CHARLOTTE Brown was worried that her troubled past would be a barrier to adoption.

But as the mum and her husband Peter found out, adoptive parents can come from all kinds of backgrounds.

A new campaign is launched to dispel myths around adoption and encourage more people across the Thames Valley to consider it.

Ahead of its launch the Browns (not their real name) shared their experience of life with adopted daughter Patricia.

Charlotte said adopting their little girl was 'the best thing that me and my husband have ever done'.

ALSO READ: Brookes' students are ashamed of their partying peers

But she added: "If I’d allowed my troubled past to define me, we would never have done it."

They had tried for a child after moving in together, but after a miscarriage and an ectopic pregnancy, Charlotte started to think again.

She said: “The ectopic changed my mind about becoming pregnant. Suddenly, it became something that could kill me. We thought about fertility treatment – but why not use that money to create a home for an adopted child?"

It was a decision that took them a long time.

"I think everyone needs to go through a process of grieving when you know you can’t have a birth child," said Charlotte.

"So, it was two years between me having the ectopic and making the decision to adopt. During that time, we got married. I remember seeing Peter playing with a little girl at our wedding. He was making her a bubble wrap dress! And I thought: yep, that’s it, and we need to go for a girl."

The process was not easy, and Charlotte's own past began to haunt her as they met Adopt Thames Valley.

"I admit that I was scared of my past," she said; "I had been in an abusive relationship and had had a traumatic childhood."

She added: “We were accepted for stage one of the adoption process on the condition that I agreed to see a professional counsellor. The counselling was tough. There were days when Peter would come home and find me crying my heart out. But so much good came out of it, and I’m a much better parent for doing it."

And once the Browns reached the tough questioning of stage two of the process, the difficulties of counselling had made it much easier for Charlotte to open up.

ALSO READ: The meaning behind a new mural painted over an empty Oxford shop

“Eventually, we were approved," said Charlotte. "Patricia’s profile was the first one we were shown, and we were determined not to automatically go for our first one! While Peter connected with her straight away, I wasn’t sure.

“We were allowed to go for a short visit at her foster carer’s house. The first thing she did was poke me in the face! And that was it: I was smitten. I didn’t want to leave that house. She owned me from that point on."

In a few weeks, they brought Patricia home.

There have been ups and downs: in the early days Patricia became 'too attached' to her dad, and was distressed when Peter finally had to return to work.

But after Charlotte had an accident with a blender which sliced off the top of her finger, he was back home to nurse her, and he and Patricia bonded more closely.

Charlotte added: "Like any child, she has her challenges. We’re currently teaching her how important it is to listen! Luckily, Adopt Thames Valley offered parenting classes, which we found very useful."

Now, the new parents would not change their life for the world: "We’ve been there for all the ‘firsts’ – the first step, first word, first bike ride, and first day at school. It doesn’t feel like we’ve missed any part of her life," said Charlotte.

“If you’re thinking about adopting, go into it with open eyes and an open mind. Whatever you have in your past, just go to an information evening or pick up the phone. It’s important to accept your past and own it - but it doesn’t define who you are.”

The Browns have been a poster-family in a new Adopt Thames Valley campaign.

The campaign, called 'You Can Adopt' seeks to dispel misconceptions, including that single people, older people, and those who are LGBTQ+ are not allowed to adopt.

Oxford Mail:

The You CanAdopt campaign seeks to dispel myths about who can or can't adopt. Picture: Adopt Thames Valley

Teresa Rogers, head of Adopt Thames Valley, said: “We are very excited to be supporting this campaign and keen to encourage more people to explore adopting with us.

“While welcoming all to apply, we would particularly like to hear from potential adoptive parents who can consider adopting older children, sibling groups and those with complex health needs or a disability."

Since April, there has been a 14 per cent increase in enquiries to adopt with Adopt Thames Valley.

ALSO READ: Five Oxford restaurants we all miss (including Mick's Cafe)

And a backlog in the courts due to Covid 19 means there will be a rise in demand for adoptive parents come the autumn, as many more children's cases are processed.

Most of Adopt Thames Valley’s assessment and training has transferred to virtual platforms to ensure the ‘recruitment’ process continues, despite the pandemic.

To find out more visit

Earlier this year, a new report revealed that 45 per cent of adults in the UK have considered adoption or would consider adoption in future.

But, despite this, 62 per cent of them feel they do not know much about the adoption process.

This lack of knowledge may contribute to many people not even taking the first step.