Imogen is 46 and adopted her son as a single mother, 12 years after being diagnosed with PH.
“I was 30 and in a relationship when I was diagnosed, and my partner and I both wanted a child. We went to see my consultant to discuss it and he told us about the risks. We decided we weren’t willing to take them.
I always wanted my own children, and it was hard to get my head around the fact that having them could kill me. I ended up suffering depression, which took five years to get over.
When I was with my partner we thought about adopting but we ended up splitting up, so I put it to the back of my mind.
Time passed and when I turned 40, everything just changed. I was no longer in a relationship and I thought if I couldn’t have my own children, I would adopt instead. I was ready for a child.
To me it felt like the right time. I was feeling healthy, studying childcare and working part time. Adoption seemed the natural route for me to take. And it was the only way I was going to be a mum.
My friends and family told me to go for it. Even my lung consultant told me to go down that route; she said I’d be a good mum and it would be a good option for me.
At the time, I wasn’t worried about doing it on my own. I was quite fit and well, despite the PH. Now, I do struggle a little bit as I’m on oxygen, but I get a lot of help from family.
When I first started the adoption process, I was told that I wouldn’t be fit enough to have a child, even before undergoing medical assessments. It broke my heart, it absolutely killed me. I employed a lawyer as it wasn’t fair that a disabled person wasn’t being given a chance, and I won the case.
The adoption process then started again and ended up taking four years. I had to go through four medical assessments, followed by a ten-week course run by social services. It was then a case of waiting.
The process felt like it was taking forever, and in my head I was thinking ‘I bet they are going to say no’, because of what happened at the start. When I was told I had passed, I cried.
Just a few days later they told me they had a child for me to meet. I didn’t expect it to happen so quickly at all. As soon as I met this little 16-month-old I knew he would be my son.
I spent a week visiting him at his foster home every morning, a week visiting every afternoon, and a week visiting every evening. Then he came to my house every day for a week, and finally on 9th October 2015 he moved in.
It was all very quick. But they did explain that it could take a lot longer. I was open to any age or sex, which is why a child was found so quickly. The only thing I said I couldn’t do was take on a child in a wheelchair, because there’s no way I would be able to carry them.
My son is now five years old and he understand my illness. He didn’t at first but when I started using oxygen two years ago, he asked me why and I told him I had poorly lungs. They were talking about oxygen in school recently and he told them his mummy has it to help her breathe – how good is that?
He knows he is adopted; I talk to him about it all the time. We started to have the conversations about a year ago, using a book about a mummy bear adopting a baby bear, which he loves.
He does understand. I’ve shown him photos of his birth parents, but he doesn’t want to know at the moment. In the future, if he wants to, I will help him contact them via social services. I’m open to that. His mother writes him letters twice a year, and we write back.
My advice to anyone in a similar position to I was is if you want it – go for it. It is a bit hard if you’re a single person, but if you have family around you who are willing to support and help you, that’s great. Sometimes I do think I wish I had a partner to help me, but other than that, I wouldn’t change it for the world.”