A U.K. woman says she decided to return an 18-month-old boy she adopted after he started having uncontrollable seizures and she realized she wasn’t capable of taking care of him.
Claire Patterson was in her mid 30s, career-oriented, and single when she decided she wanted to adopt a baby on her own. While going through the process of finding the right child, Patterson was shown a video of a little boy, and she knew in that moment he was the one.
“He was sitting down and then suddenly he smiled and that was it,” Patterson said, according to the Daily Mail. “I didn’t want any child with a disability as I was a single adopter and I couldn’t facilitate that. It said in his child performance report that he was a healthy, babbling baby boy and I was thrilled when I was told I could collect him. It was such a special day and he was going to be my very special boy, I was very excited.”
Patterson says she found out that the young boy was mildly developmentally delayed, but she felt hopeful that she could make it work.
“I thought he couldn’t crawl because he had been in care and thought with a bit of determination and one-to-one care from me, it was only a matter of time,” Patterson said. “I was concerned about the shape of his head. It seemed to be very flat at the back, but even then, I didn’t know what was to come. He didn’t do anything you would expect a child of his age to do. He couldn’t roll over, he couldn’t talk or crawl and had very poor muscle tone.”
Patterson says she took him to speech therapy, but he never learned to say anything more than “mummy.” By October 2012, the year after she adopted him, Patterson’s world had turned upside down when the young boy started having seizures.
“I’d just pulled into a petrol station in Preston when I turned around and he was in the back of the car and started to jolt - he was having a seizure. It was one of the most terrifying moments of my life,” Patterson recalled. “He had neurological damage, or brain damage, and had been born that way. He was having 36 seizures a day and his epilepsy was a symptom of something much bigger. He didn’t know who I was. At one point we were sleeping downstairs with a bag packed, always ready for the ambulance. His seizures were out of control.
“He had breathing difficulties and once was in a coma. At one point it was thought he might even die,” Patterson continued. “‘It was very, very stressful and I had reached the end of my physical and mental strength.”
Sadly, Patterson reached a point where she realized that she had no other choice but to return her adopted son, and after reaching out to social workers, they also agreed that she was not fit to be a single mom to a boy who had so many challenges.
“It was a heartbreaking decision, I loved him,” Patterson said. “It’s certainly not something I took lightly at all, but I had nothing more to give and had to hand him back.”
Claire went to court to make sure it was clear that she gave the baby back through no fault of her own. This was essential for her if she ever wanted to adopt again in the future. Luckily for Patterson, a judge agreed.
Now, Patterson has started a website to help parents who have decided to return adopted children, and she says she is currently looking to try adoption again. As for the young boy, Patterson says he is living in a “home environment” and is being cared for 24 hours a day by four adults.
“I’m hoping to have a child between three and six years old,” Patterson said. “I’m very hopeful for the future and through my website, I hope I can help support someone who might be feeling as isolated as I did.”
Photo Source: Claire Patterson via Daily Mail