Proud mum: ‘Adopting Jack gave me the family I’ve always wanted’

As the nation celebrates Mother’s Day, Mel James has opened up about the heartwarming way she became a mum

real life mum adopting story

by Kaya Terry and Bella Evennett-Watts |
Updated on

When Mel James was told she couldn’t have children of her own, she and her husband, Anthony, 43, refused to give up on their dream of starting a family, so decided to adopt instead.

During their application process, Mel, from Wokingham, came across the profile of Jack. With the same piercing blue eyes as hers, she was sure this little boy was meant to be her son – only Mel and Anthony weren’t approved for adoption yet.

But a month later, when they were finally given the go-head, Mel was stunned when their social worker called to say they’d been matched with Jack, who still hadn’t found his forever home. Later that year, the pair became Jack’s official mum and dad.

Mel, 40, says, “As soon as I saw Jack’s picture, I felt instantly connected to him. I love him with all my heart – he has given me the gift of being a mother and, for that, I am forever grateful.”

 Mel and Anthony adoption
She longed to be Jack’s mum ©CARDWELL & SIMONS

Mel and Anthony began trying for a baby shortly after they got married in 2008. She says, “Each month I was upset that I wasn’t pregnant. Then I began suffering irregular periods and, in 2011, I was rushed to hospital with an ovarian cyst. I lost a huge amount of blood – it was so scary.

“Afterwards doctors told me my chances of natural conception were almost zero – I was heartbroken. My doctor suggested IVF, but I’d been through so much already that I didn’t feel strong enough, both mentally and physically.

“I work as a Senior Family Worker supporting challenging families. I knew there were children out there who needed a loving home, and Anthony felt the same, so we started exploring adoption.”

In September 2013, Mel and Anthony started the process. She says, “It’s a long journey. You fill in medical and suitability questionnaires, and there are background checks and training days too.

 Mel and Anthony adoption
Mel and Anthony are “forever grateful” for Jack ©CARDWELL & SIMONS

“Then you have to wait while your application is processed and checked. It was during this time that we were sent a profile about a baby boy called Jack.

“He was six months old and as I gazed at his photograph, I couldn’t believe how much he looked like me. His birth mother had been a heroin user while pregnant and, as a result, Jack was born addicted and taken into foster care.

“Somehow, I knew this baby was meant to be ours. But we hadn’t been approved for adoption yet, so I was sure he would find a home elsewhere.

“As we continued through the process, I couldn’t stop thinking about Jack. I longed to be his mum.”

Then, in May 2014, the couple were finally approved for adoption. Mel says, “We were elated! After six months, it had all been worth it. Since I’d seen Jack’s profile, I’d made sure our social worker knew how interested we were in adopting him. Days later, I got the call saying we’d been matched to him – I was so happy, I felt like my heart was going to burst.”

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The couple met Jack, who was just eight months old, for the first time in June 2014. Mel says, “We met for the first time at his foster carer’s house. I made him a photo album with pictures of Anthony and I, so he could get used to our faces. After that, Jack came to our house for visits and loved it.”

But Mel admits that it took a while getting used to having Jack around. She says, “Because I hadn’t carried Jack in my womb, that instant bond wasn’t there. Although I cared about him very much, I didn’t love him immediately.

“But then, six months later, Jack and Ant were at home while I popped out. I was in the car and caught sight of his empty child’s seat in my rear view mirror. Seeing it empty, my heart flipped. I missed him so much! I realised I couldn’t be without him. He was my son.”

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Then on 23 December 2014, the paperwork came through that meant Mel and Anthony were Jack’s official parents. She says, “Jack is now seven, and we’re open about his adoption, in an age-appropriate way. We tell him that his birth mum and dad couldn’t keep him safe, so he chose us instead.

“As for the fact he was born addicted to heroin due to his mother being an addict, he shows no signs of any developmental delays, and he has no other issues.”

And Mel says that every year, the family love celebrating Mother’s Day. She says, “Jack, now seven, usually gives me a bunch of flowers or a homemade card – it’s such a special day, because it reminds me how lucky I am to have Jack.

“Adoption is such a rewarding experience, and it has given Anthony and I the family we have always wanted.”

To learn more about adoption, visit

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