A Home For Maisie: Why we adopted our ninth child

Monday 11 April 2011, 12:30

Sue Clifford Sue Clifford

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My husband Jim and I have always enjoyed a challenge.

Having adopted eight children over 18 years, all placed with us as older children and each with differing needs, we were already reasonably challenged.

But then we saw Maisie's profile in Children Who Wait magazine published by Adoption UK and couldn't resist putting ourselves forward just one more time.

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As a seven-year-old who had already had two failed adoptive placements, we felt she deserved a chance at having a family who might just be able to make it work.

All of our eight children understood that Maisie would struggle to trust and become part of our family, but they all wanted to help her make the journey which they had, each in their own way, made.

By filming part of her journey, with her and all the children's agreement, of course, for BBC Two's A Home For Maisie, we hope that Maisie will have something to look back on, which will remind her that she is special and that we all believe in her.

We hope that the film will also encourage others on their journey of adoption.

For Maisie, her early life of abuse and neglect, together with the various moves she had experienced, had left her with an inability to trust and engage in relationships with anyone.

She had put up a protective wall around herself and would hit out at anyone who tried to break through.

It has been very painful for all of us to see just how much early rejections have affected Maisie.

However, with persistence, we have gradually helped Maisie to remove that protective wall and enjoy the pleasures of being a little girl.

Maisie, held by her adoptive father Jim, and her adoptive mother Sue

We have been supported in helping Maisie with therapy provided by the adoption support agency Family Futures and funded by social services.

To help us record Maisie's journey on film, Family Futures have, for the first time, allowed cameras inside the therapy sessions.

One of the things we recognised immediately was that Maisie, like all of our other children, had missed the early childhood experiences of nurture - being made to feel special, safe exploration of her environment and other play experiences that children get from growing up in a caring, loving and safe family.

So although she was seven when she joined our family, she was still a baby in terms of her life experiences.

As a family we have helped Maisie not only to trust, but also to experience feeling cared for, nurtured and we have given her the play experiences that as a baby and toddler she should have had.

You'll see in the programme that she really enjoyed us spoon feeding her at the table and being bounced on the trampette to create the same fun and developmental effects as a baby being bounced on a parent's knee.

As a result she is now beginning to allow herself to be part of our family and enjoy having parents who love her, and brothers and sisters to play with.

It has been a hard road over the last two and a half years and there will be more rocky patches to come but for now we can all enjoy the funny, cheeky, loving and caring child that Maisie is becoming.

Sue Clifford is Maisie's adoptive mother and features in A Home For Maisie.

A Home For Maisie is on BBC Two at 9pm on Monday, 11 April.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.

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    Comment number 1.

    Just watched the programme and I just wanted to say that you and your family are truly inspirational. Gorgeous, gorgeous family. Good luck!

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Dear Sue,
    I just watched the documentary on the BBC and I just wanted you and Jim to know that I was deeply moved by what you are doing for all your children and I could feel the love you have for them through the televisionscreen. Thank God for people like you and Jim, who are making the diffrence. All the best, you will be in my prayers.
    Greetings from Holland, from Hettie
    p.s sorry if my English isn't that good, hope you'll understand what I am trying to say.

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    Comment number 3.

    You are an amazing couple with a wonderful, inspiring dedication to those who need a chance in life - it's people like you that make differences in this world.

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    Comment number 4.

    just watched the programme.found it really interesting as we have adopted a boy who has similar problems to maisie.it would seem that as usual it all boils down to money.when are local authorities/government going to wake up and smell the coffee and make finance available to help these children.would have liked a bit more on the background of sue and jim.
    thought you were both great by the way and good luck to maisie

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Hi Sue,
    You are truely an inspirational family. I have been totally moved to tears by Maisie's story. I am so glad that you were able to give Maisie a hope for a happy future. I wish you all every happiness and success in your future lives together.
    Very Best wishes


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