Twinkle twinkle little star

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Parents: Leanne and Kim Brown 
Children: Soldier, Ryder and Vera aged 10, 8 And 6 Respectively
 INTRO Thank you for allowing us a glimpse into your adoption journey and beautiful family Kim and Lea. We are continually in awe of the work that you do not only at HOLAH but within your four walls with your three beautiful children too.
Q1. You could say, Your journey to adopting your eldest son started out a little differently to some, you weren't actively seeking to adopt is that correct? but rather establishing a crises home? Can you tell us what changed for you both and how the adoption process of Soldier unfolded?
 Yes we had just set up a crisis home. Soldier was the first child to come into our crisis care. When we talked about setting up a crisis home, everyone we spoke to said "wont it be so hard, wont you get attached? How will you let the children go. Don't fall in love with the first child that comes into your care" Within a few weeks we had 3 children and that number grew quickly. But from day 1 Soldier had crept into our hearts, although we didn't admit it for a while. Once Soldiers family decided that they wanted to give him up for adoption as they felt this would be better for him and his future. The social workers were asking for photos of him and information about him and his personality, so they could start looking into suitable families for adoption. We kept holding back and just not responding to them but without really discussing it or talking about why we were holding back. Leanne often dropped comments about keeping him and Kim would keep quiet. Then one day we went to visit a school with all the HOLAH kids so we could talk about what we do. While we were there the kids all sang twinkle twinkle little star. Leanne was holding Soldier and Soldier was trying to sing along. in that moment, something clicked and I (Kim) decided that he was NOT going anywhere. We were lucky enough to be in touch with Soldiers biological family and they knew us so we were able to ask them if we could adopt their son. From there we started the screening process. Some of it was already done as we had already been screened as Crisis parents. It took a while for everything to be finalised but we were so relived and happy the day we went to Camperdown Court to officially become his Moms.
 Q2 We have spoken about how Soldier came to find his forever home, can you tell us a bit more about how your middle son Ryder and daughter Vera found their forever home with you both?
 It is always suggested to adopt in the natural order of age. So not to adopt an older child than a child you already have. Ryder and Vera-May were both at other Crisis homes. Ryder was at La Lucia baby house with Skip and Shelia (Gogo as Ryder calls her). Sheila kept talking to us about Ryder and how he looked so much like Soldier. We got to meet this beautiful boy, first time we saw him he was such a cool little dude with his cap backwards on a push bike. He has so many similarities to Solider. We had spoken a little about adopting a second child but it was not something we had fully committed to. However after meeting Ryder we knew we wanted him to be part of our family. The day we were going to meet the social workers to talk about a way forward was scary, unlike Soldier this was a little guy we had only met once, he wasn't a baby anymore he was already 2 and by then he was living in another home where they were struggling to find him a forever family due to some health issues and being a little older. All part of a bigger plan for us to could adopt him 🙂 Vera-May was living in a crisis home in Joburg. Leanne was in contact with Karen who runs Tshwani Haven as they also take children with Special needs. Leanne has always had an interest and passion for special needs, she worked within this field in the UK for 8 years. So it was bound to happen that we would adopt a little one with special needs. Vera needed a forever home, she was getting too old for the crisis home she was staying in and she would have to go to a children home soon. once these kids land up in a  children's home it is not very often they have the opportunity to be adopted. I (kim)  was not convinced, having 2 children already with some challenges, would we cope with another child with challenges? However after lots of photos and lots of chats with Karen we hit the road to Joburg and met our soon to be daughter. it was a bit of a roller coaster because we met her in the evening as we arrived, the next morning we picked her up went to court and she was in our foster care. for a lot of couples this could have been a little intense but i think given the nature of the work we do, we have gotten used to different children coming into our care at a moments notice, this was of course different as she was going to be part of our family forever. it was tough at the start with Vera. Not because of her having Down Syndrome, but simply hard to connect with another little human that is full of personality when your hands are so full already . But that personality won us over very quickly. Vera is currently in our Foster care pending adoption. There has been some issues with paper work and province to province adoption. We really hope things will be sorted soon and the adoption will be finalised. But she is our daughter !!
 Q3 Vera has down syndrome, how have you found her older brothers have accepted and adjusted to this special need in their little sister?
 We talk about Down Syndrome and what it means with our kids. I don't think the boys really see her as being any different from everyone else. perhaps this is because they are surrounded by children in wheel chairs and various challenges, we try to teach them that everyone is different and special and that we need to accept people/ children for who they are. We also talk about how it can be very difficult for children to be in a wheel chair or not be able to talk or battle with speech like Vera-May and they need to help others. we really hope it all sinks in through teenage years and adult hood.
 Q4 Has their sibling bonding [& typical sibling rivalry!] been something that has come naturally for the three of them?
 yes, we have seen the connection between the three of them get stronger and stronger all the time but there was never a real issue over jealousy or bonding not happening. It all flowed very naturally. We couldn’t ask for them to be any closer than they are now. They get on so well, they love each other, help each other and look out for each other. We feel very lucky.
 Q5 Have you discussed your children's adoption story with them and if not, do you plan to once they reach a certain age?
 yes we have. We feel it has been the best decision for our children. They have always known the basic story and we add onto this story more detail as they get older and mature and are able to understand and accept more. We feel growing up understanding is so much better than one day being told everything and having to grasp and understand that. We also have contact with our sons biological families so they need to understand that dynamic. The best and most simple way to start is "Your tummy Mommy couldn't look after you and give you everything you need so we are lucky enough to have you and love you forever"
 Q6 As a crises home do you believe that adopted children should have access to their biological parents where this is a possibility?
 Yes, definitely where possible this is best in our view. Although some circumstances are not healthy for the adopted children to be explode to so we think this should be very case specific. It should be a discussion with the social worker, adopting family or crisis home and any stable biological family members.
 Q7 What, in your opinion @Lea has been the greatest highlight of adopting your children?
 There isn't one highlight, but every time I get a spontaneous hug or "I Love you" I am reminded that these 3 children are my greatest gifts in life.
 Q8 What in your opinion @Kim has been the greatest highlight of adopting your children?
 This is a very hard question as there can never be just one highlight. Every single day something happens or one of them will say something or do something and I am reminded how lucky we are to have them. The love they have for each other and the love we have for them is something I could never imagine possible. That alone is pretty dam incredible !
 Q9 if you could give your HOLAH friends and followers, who are considering fostering or adopting a child but have too many uncertainties around the idea,  one word of encouragement and / or advise, what would it be?
 Don’t be put off by paper work and meetings. Think of the life of that child you could be changing. Every child deserves a family.