Ealing will always hold a special place in our hearts. Not just because it’s where we met, married and made our first home, but also because without that local authority, we would never have been able to raise these children.
When we contacted our own local authority in Buckinghamshire with a view to either fostering or adopting, they dismissed us out of hand on the basis that we were a mixed couple of the Muslim faith. We could have fought them, particularly as we were aware of a white Christian couple raising an Asian Muslim child, but we were in such a fragile state back then that we simply went elsewhere.
Despite having moved out of the area, Ealing embraced us with open arms. They told us that even if they could not assist with a suitable match, they would still assess us because there was such an enormous need for culturally appropriate placements for vulnerable children. Where our local authority saw us as a potential problem, Ealing were eager to encourage couples to come forward to adopt, rather than consign children in need to a life in care.
The adoption assessment process was longwinded, intrusive and tiresome, but our assessors were brilliant. Where our local authority was insensitive and abrupt, the adoption team at Ealing were excellent. Just as we were happy to travel back there for training, so they were happy to travel twenty miles out to us for home-based assessments. The entire process took over two years, but in the end we adopted a sibling pair from another authority altogether.
Our lives, therefore, will forever be intertwined with Ealing, despite moving on so long ago. Perhaps that is why we return so often, recalling fond memories. We made great friends there, although most of them have likewise moved elsewhere. Our destinies were joined there — both my wife and I, and the children we have raised. A cause for celebration, if ever there was one.