Carrie and David Grant are a couple with copious amounts of love to give after deciding to adopt another child when they were already parents to three.
The spouses, who are best known for coaching on shows like Pop Idol and Fame Academy, share three daughters Olivia, Talia and Imogen.
Around eight years ago, they began the process of adopting a two-year-old boy, Nathan, who would complete their family.
However it’s been a particularly challenging journey for the TV stars as Nathan has special needs – the now 10-year-old has attachment difficulties and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).
Raising children with learning difficulties wasn’t new to Carrie, 55, and David, 64, as each of their biological children have similar challenges.
But they were more than ready to give Nathan the support he needed.
‘Nathan’s complex in a different way but we understand what it is to be shape-shifter parents,’ Carrie explained to Metro.co.uk as part of our Adoption Month.
‘We parent in four different ways for four different children.’
Carrie and David were approached by a friend who fostered children about taking in a small boy.
Nathan was ‘child number 79’ but the foster mother just knew there was just ‘something so amazing’ about him.
She spoke to the vocal coaches separately about whether they’d be interested in adopting him and the rest is history.
They have initial hesitation though as Carrie explained: ‘We were also thinking we’re too old because I was 44 at the time we went for the adoption training and David’s nine years older than me.
‘Then we thought maybe we’ve got too many kids already, there were so many things that we thought were barriers when actually, the fact that we’d had three kids with special needs was a huge advantage because already we understood complex children.’
The couple stress that it wasn’t a fairytale, happy ever after.
‘Nathan was very happily living with his foster carer and then when he came to us, he was completely traumatised by that move. He stood by the window and cried everyday waiting for his foster carer to come and pick him up,’ Carrie said.
‘That was so hard to watch this little two-year-old trying to process their grief. That’s why I’m saying the adopted lose everything. They get a new surname, they change their birth certificate. Even their nationality is changed often.
‘That’s something we have seen work itself, and continues to, in Nathan. It’s a lifelong commitment to standing alongside this incredible child as he grows and understands and finds his wholeness. That’s not something that can happen overnight.
‘We see amazing wins, great strides of growth and healing and wholeness. It’s not easy for him, he had the hardest start,’ Carrie admitted.
Fortunately, the couple didn’t have to worry about Nathan bonding with their older children as it turns out, they were already familiar with each other.
David revealed: ‘They all met Nathan, what we didn’t realise was that the younger ones had met [him] when he was with his foster family. They met him before we met him from the time he was four months old and playing with him. They didn’t know it was that Nathan we were talking about.
‘They were really all positive. One of the things we decided is we had to have the whole family on-board, it couldn’t be something that Carrie and I wanted to do if any of the children were reluctant or resistant about it.
‘It’s a whole family decision.’
As the weeks went on, Carrie and David realised that they needed to seek professional help so they were better informed about Nathan’s special needs.
Carrie explained that there were times where she found it difficult to build an emotional connection with him.
‘We saw some very negative behaviour but behind that, we ask this in all our relationships which is, what are you actually trying to say?’ she said.
‘By week 12 it was like, right kiddo you’ve got to sort this out. It did feel really rejecting and it was really hard sometimes.
‘And as a mum I thought, I can only give to him as much as he’s willing to receive.’
The couple began an online course called Non-Violent Resistance (NVR) which they say ‘completely transformed our parenting for Nathan’.
It eventually led to a breakthrough moment that Carrie will always cherish.
‘He cried with me for the first time, proper tears,’ the musician recalled.
‘I think that was September 2019 and it was like, my boy’s found his tears. It was such a precious moment to have him cry and then it was like he couldn’t stop. In a way, even though it was hard for him, I really felt relieved for him that he had found his tears and that he could communicate sadness.
‘If you’ve got a child with special needs or adopted, this is an extraordinary win. When those moments happen, it’s life-changing for the child and it’s life-changing for you as a family.’
Perhaps the only thing Carrie and David would change about the adoption process was the connection with Nathan’s birth mother.
‘There was one point at which we felt the right thing to do – and I wish this had happened in a way because I think it’s the best thing for the children – is that we adopted his birth mum,’ Carrie said.
‘Because I think if families can work together with birth families who are really struggling and end up losing their children in the case of Nathan’s birth mum, I think that’s the worst possible outcome.
‘That’s the thing we have to remember is this is not a great outcome for an adopted child. This is a really difficult outcome, they lose everything but they’re no longer in danger hopefully.’
She recalled: ‘We wanted to adopt his mum and they kind of laughed at us. We were like, “Oh, that kind of makes absolute sense in our world”. But it didn’t happen. So we went to our local authority, signed up and six months later, Nathan walked through the front door. It was really quick.’
David and Carrie were initially unable to reach Nathan’s birth mother but they finally made contact around five years ago and have incredibly stayed in touch.
‘We message each other at least once a fortnight, I send pictures and then the other side of Nathan’s family made contact, so we have a relationship with them that we’re absolutely intent on developing,’ Carrie shared.
With regards to Nathan having personal contact with his birth mum, Carrie stated: ‘It has to be at the right time for Nathan… making sure that relationship’s there so that one day in the future if he wants to explore that then [he can’t].’
It’s a fairly widespread assumption that celebrities who want to adopt have an easier ride compared to the everyday person due to their wealth and status.
But Carrie and David wholeheartedly disagree.
Carrie said: ‘I would actually say that for social services, adoption is probably something that is not a good word.
‘Celebrity as we see it is not seen as stable, secure and permanent so I actually think it probably was a disadvantage to be honest and probably took some convincing.’
She added: ‘I think it was probably that we were married for so long, it was 22 years at the time, we’re in a mixed race marriage, we’ve got three birth children with complex special needs, because of those things, that’s meant we ticked all the boxes.
David agreed: ‘I think the perception of celebrity is one of self-absorption and the reality of parenting is your focus has to be on the other person and serving. So in some ways, we would’ve had to do more convincing than we would normally have to do.’
Adoption Month is a month-long series covering all aspects of adoption.
For the next four weeks, which includes National Adoption Week from October 14-19, we will be speaking to people who have been affected by adoption in some way, from those who chose to welcome someone else’s child into their family to others who were that child.
We’ll also be talking to experts in the field and answering as many questions as possible associated with adoption, as well as offering invaluable advice along the way.
If you have a story to tell or want to share any of your own advice please do get in touch at [email protected]
- Why we’re talking about adoption this month
- How to adopt a child – from how long it takes to how you can prepare
- The most Googled questions on adoption, answered
- How long does it take to adopt a child in the UK
- Adoption myths that could be stopping you from starting a family
- How to tell your child they are adopted
Visit our Adoption Month page for more.
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