Film following Saira Khan and her husband on their journey to adopt a baby from an orphanage in Pakistan. The couple embark on a rigorous adoption process lasting eight months.
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Saira Khan, TV presenter and entrepreneur,
is best known for her stint on the first series of The Apprentice.
But despite all their success, Saira and husband Steve Hyde
long for another baby, the one thing that remains
beyond their control.
What do you say after you've finished? What do you say to Mummy?
If somebody said to me now, "Zach is the only child you're ever going to have"
that would upset me, and it wouldn't feel right,
and we'd want to do something about it,
and that's why I am going to adopt a little baby girl.
We want to complete our family.
Four years ago, Saira made a life-changing visit
to an orphanage in Pakistan that she's never been able to forget.
There was something that was left behind from that visit that I brought back to England...
..and it has always stayed with me and in my mind.
I believe in fate that I was meant to go there for a reason.
Pakistan is one of the most dangerous countries in the world
but despite that, Steve and Saira are determined to return to the orphanage in search of a baby.
-They're desperate, aren't they?
Before they set off on this journey into the unknown,
they'll have to be approved through the gruelling adoption process
here in the UK.
This whole journey is going to be painful, it's not going to go according to plan,
people are going to wind me up.
If we jump in at the deep end, I'll be challenging, I'm afraid.
I'm going to get crazy.
Stop saying "regulate"!
'Steve's going to do my head in, I'm going to do Steve's head in.
'I can visualise all those points,'
but the bit that I'm thinking about
is the day that I get a little baby in my arms.
Four years ago, Steve and Saira discovered they couldn't conceive naturally,
and, to have Zach, they had to go through IVF.
Give Daddy kisses all over his face.
'The moment that Zach kind of came into the world,'
it was like somebody had taken another heart and put it into me
and it gave me a whole new capacity to love something else or love someone else.
It was just a completely overwhelming experience from that point of view.
And kiss Daddy's ears.
They wanted another child, but their second IVF attempt failed.
Saira was nearly 40.
..then Mummy put you to bed.
'We were both older parents but, Saira in particular, the clock is ticking.
'We actually agreed,'
before Saira went for a second bout of IVF, so this was after we had Zach,
we actually agreed that we'd give it one go
and if it didn't work, we'd look to adopt.
In the UK, so few infants are given up for adoption,
Saira and Steve know they could be waiting years for the baby they so desperately want.
We have a higher chance of getting a newborn baby from somewhere like Pakistan
whereas in England it's very unlikely that, in the timeframe we're looking at, that we'd get a baby.
And the reason adopting a baby is important to us
is because we already have a child, and Zach is two,
and we're thinking about how that would fit in with his life. It's not just about me and Steve,
it's about bringing a new baby and giving that baby attention and love alongside Zach.
What's more, Saira has her heart set on bringing home a sister for Zach.
Babies are abandoned and left to die on the streets of Pakistan every day.
There are no official records of how many. Most of them are girls.
The Edhi Foundation Charity took in 240 of these infants last year.
Some of them were found in special cots,
where babies can be left at any time of the day or night.
I know that baby girls are thrown into the skip in Pakistan
because they're girls, because the women who have them
are really poor, they can't look after them.
We also want to be able to give this child an opportunity
for a fantastic life, to be brought into a really loving family.
And, for me, that's something to fight for.
SHE WHISPERS: I love you, I love you, I love you.
I love you, baby.
Only 140 children were adopted into the UK from overseas last year.
PACT, Parents And Children Together,
deal with inter-country and domestic adoptions
on behalf of 35 local authorities.
Hi, I'm returning a call from Liz Chalice. My name's Hannah Penny.
Even though they're hoping to adopt a child from Pakistan,
Saira and Steve have to undergo the same rigorous assessment as anyone who adopts within the UK.
The process that prospective parents have to follow
is almost identical, so anyone coming to PACT,
whether they want to adopt in the UK or overseas,
will need to have the same regulated checks and procedures undertaken,
the same application process, very similar preparation groups, identical home studies almost.
Saira and Steve have applied to PACT, and, if they're accepted,
their already pressurised lives will be placed under close scrutiny.
OK, so it needs to be seen, does it?
Steven, the social worker is going to say, "Why have you got the child's toy right at the back of the garden?"
And I'm going to say, "Oh, it's because my husband doesn't like the lawn to look bad."
These social workers who have been going round to loads of people's houses, they do it for a living,
they know what they're looking for,
and I'm saying, we've got to forget what's perfect and what's right, cos I think you and I,
what are we going to be like?
We'll be fine, Saira, but the one thing I'd say,
I've got no problem with having it but, you know, it needs to go towards the back of the garden. OK?
An introductory assessment with an experienced PACT social worker
is the first step on the process.
We haven't even started and we're stressed out, honest to God.
Hello, Sarah, I'm Saira, nice to meet you.
I'm Steve, nice to meet you. How are you?
Sarah Pepys will examine who they are and how much they understand
about being an adoptive parent.
-I was born into a Muslim household
and I am a Muslim.
I was Christian, so I'm a Christian.
-So both your parents were Pakistani?
-Pakistani, Kashmiri, yep.
I grew up in a family with a brother and sister, and they're both married.
My dad died in '98 when he went for the first time in 30 years back to Pakistan with Mum.
'We have to start from the understanding that adoption is a very difficult thing,
'and social workers are often accused of being negative about it,
'"You always say how difficult it will be".'
Well, it is for some people, and it is for children as well.
So the whole process is about helping people know themselves,
and we all go through life managing as well as we can
and we cover up those bits
that are uncomfortable or make us vulnerable
because we're achievers. And part of what the assessment is about
is to say, "Let's look at the cracks".
Because it's likely that those cracks are going to show themselves when a child's come.
How would you envisage it being
when you bring a little girl home from Pakistan?
I'd do exactly the same as I did with Zach,
is take the baby with me wherever I went
and Zach would probably, by that time, be in a nursery...
But if you think that from the outset, Zach knew your smell,
he knew your voice, he quickly learnt how you held him,
and any baby you pick up from Pakistan will have been held by loads of other people,
so there's no certainty inside them about what feels safe.
In fact nothing feels very safe.
-Yes, of course.
-I mean, even tiny babies know that I'll cry and...
'We're not playing games that this is happy ever after'
because it isn't always. I mean, life isn't like that, so let's be real
about what people are going to need to make it as good as possible.
Saira and Steve will now undergo
an intensive series of social work home visits,
each lasting up to three hours.
-There's an issue of them running the agenda.
You're going to have your agenda
but they'll also have their agenda, of course, that they want to get through this process that we've got.
And I'd think it might be useful for you to have some of those...
-unexpected questions that sort of get underneath what they're expecting.
'Over the next six months, Hannah Penny will examine their lives, relationship and backgrounds.'
..particularly, maybe, with Steve cos he's the quieter person, is he, from what you've written?
Well, if he's quieter, it's because Saira's quite extrovert.
OK, in an individual session, he won't be quiet.
At the end of the home study,
Hannah will present a report to the PACT director
on their suitability to become adoptive parents.
The assessment will demand and then test their ability
to be completely open and honest.
In their first sessions,
Hannah wants to talk to Steve and Saira separately.
..talk a bit about, you know, your kind of personal history and how you are today as a person.
Thanks for your family tree, that's great.
If you could talk me through it a bit, cos that's a good way
-to start understanding your family and where you come from.
My mum and my dad were both born in the same town in Epping in Essex.
Yeah, and what about your mum and dad's relationship?
-They had an arranged marriage, I think you said?
-Yeah, they had an arranged marriage
and interestingly enough - which isn't typical - they weren't related to each other.
I was born at home in Epping in a very, very pleasant family environment.
I had a brother and sister.
'When Mum came to this country, she was dumped in the middle of a place called Long Eaton.'
Bloody hell, look at it, just a complete shit hole!
'Dad was always at work'
and he was working in a factory along with lots of other immigrants that went over at that time.
My mum was very good at getting us to kind of appreciate classical music.
She'd always invent lots of different stories to classical music
and we'd end up playing and being whatever it was, dinosaurs to the Rites of Spring.
Mum was really dependent on my dad
because my dad was the one that could speak English and he could drive.
My dad had a really bad temper and it was uncontrollable
and we saw things that, you know, we'd come home and we'd be watching Grange Hill
and the TV would be flung out. He didn't want us to watch it.
We'd spend a Sunday, for example, we'd go off to picnics,
a stately home, walk in the forest,
zoos, into London to see the sights.
I think, like any relationship, they bickered a lot.
I don't remember my parents arguing.
Frankly, I'd probably been overly mollycoddled.
-He's so calm, he's so measured.
-Just sort of solid. And Saira's more energetic.
-In control of his emotions.
And I guess that's what I found really attractive about him.
-I don't get angry, um...
-You do sports?
-Yeah, I do. Yeah, I do.
You said that you've had no previous relationships before Steve.
Nothing at all, or just very brief relationships?
I haven't had anything serious and so my mum
hasn't met anybody else apart from Steve
and I've never taken any other man home and said, "Mum, this is my boyfriend."
-But that's not to say...
that's not to say that I haven't spent time with other people than Steve.
-Would you like me to take you to cricket?
-It's good fun!
We raised money for the tsunami and that was Pakistan and England,
-and I made curry pasties.
-I think I came once, too.
'Steve's parents, Mac and Margaret,
'and Saira's mum, Hanifa, all support their plan to adopt.'
-Will you baby-sit for me?
But they're naturally anxious about what will happen in Pakistan.
If you do get a chance to adopt a child, does that mean they choose the child for you?
-This is the thing, because babies come in every day.
-Every single day.
-What, as newborn babies?
-As newborn babies or whatever.
We'll have no idea who the mother is.
We'll have no idea.
These babies are, they come to this orphanage
and they are just dropped there and that's it.
I think part of the emotional point would be all the babies that we're leaving.
-You know, that could be the...
-That's very true.
-You know, I don't think it's...
-It will be emotional whatever happens.
-That's going to be tough.
Really emotional, you'll have to be quite strong.
One of the first questions a lot of people ask is, "Are you going to be able to chose the baby?"
And that's, that's something we, we're, we're sort of thinking,
"Well, I don't, I don't, I don't know how that bit works".
I really don't know, and I don't whether it's important but, at the moment, sitting here in England,
thinking about a baby and trying to connect the two, it's a bit weird.
And so you are thinking, "Well I'd like to be able to choose",
but then like Steve says, what if you haven't got the choice
and they say, "Your baby's come in, come and take it"?
With so many unanswered questions about Karachi,
Saira has managed to contact a couple who have already been through the experience.
Sobia and Amjad live close by and have two children,
both from the Edhi Orphanage.
What you do, you arrive in Pakistan, you ring Edhi
and you say to them, "Whenever the next girl comes in, call me."
We got there on the 23rd in the morning,
we rang at ten o'clock, they said, "Nobody's come in".
By six o'clock, a little girl had come in, Sabrina, which we named.
We went to see her and...
At 8:30pm. A few people had seen her before us,
who were local or something, but didn't take her - she was only three pounds
and was quite dark. Those people didn't want a dark, skinny little child.
-And she had a funny-looking head.
Yeah, she was quite dehydrated and... If you want me to show you...
Yeah, she was quite skinny. And so, we just got there
and we were walking up the steps and when you walk up those steps
it's probably the most scariest, emotional thing, Amjad was crying,
I was crying, his mother was crying, it was very emotional.
I was shaking.
I thought I was going to faint going up the steps.
Um, I'll never forget it, and, um...
And then we went up, um, they took the child,
you could hear all these kids making noises and babies crying,
and this, um, kind of nanny-type lady brought the baby out
and they sort of said, "Oh, she's very dark..."
I thought, "They're not selling her well".
"Would you want to still take her?" Amjad said, "Yep".
I had on my mind already that I'm going to get this child
no matter what condition she is. So I decided when I saw her,
I said, "No, this is my child, this is my baby now,
"no matter what condition she is, I'm her father".
I don't think Amjad really saw her, but he just went, "Yep",
and, and then I held her in the taxi on the way home
and I just cried all the way.
Did, did...can I...?
You know when you saw her,
did you love her immediately?
I can't say that loves comes just straight away. I can't say that.
I don't think it did. Emotion comes, you know, it kind of takes over.
And I was shaking, I was scared that I might drop her on the way down the stairs.
I was shaking. Then we just signed a form,
you give the 25 rupees admin fee,
and then we had a taxi
and then we took her back in a taxi and...
-It's the best thing we've ever done. Without a doubt, both of them.
And her in particular I have to say, her in particular.
I was just thankful to Allah that he fulfilled my all, you know...
because we wanted to have a...
a family, with a child.
So he gave us that, you know, that special girl, Sabrina.
So, I'm always thankful to Allah, and that's it.
Sobia and Amjad knew nothing about Sabrina's background when they collected her.
Back in the UK, eight months later,
they discovered she has the genetic blood disorder, thalassemia.
She will have to have a blood transfusion every three weeks for the rest of her life.
Can you also tell me about when you first found out that she had... what was it called?
-Thalassemia. Because I don't know... you see, that for me,
I don't know how I'd feel if I found...
Do you see what I mean? That is a concern of mine.
Yeah, there are...you know, Hepatitis C, AIDS, thalassemia
and other illnesses, which I said, I've got a whole list of them... They are prominent.
And obviously, children who are left are coming from deprived areas,
malnutrition, the mother's had a hard time.
Cos I, deep down, feel nobody wants to give up their child, that's what I feel.
So, you know, these mothers are going through a lot,
they have problems physically, mentally and genetically.
Sobia and Amjad went on to adopt their son Sharik two years later, also from Edhi.
But Sabrina's illness means the family now live
with the legacy of thalassemia.
See you later, bye-bye.
If Saira and Steve are given a baby,
they too will have no idea of its medical history.
It's a dilemma they'd never dreamt they'd have to face.
I actually got the impression that when we went to Pakistan
you'd have about 50 babies, and you'd go round and you'd think, "I want that one".
When a baby comes in, they phone you and they say,
"There's a baby coming in, would you like to come and get it?" And they just went along.
What if we went to see the baby and we think, "Oh, we didn't..."
I don't think you can judge how you're going to... I don't think...
-No, that's not the key thing to focus on, is it?
-No, no, I don't think you can anticipate that.
When she said that there's a lot of thalassemia
and there's lots of babies born with AIDS, I was a bit shocked when she said AIDS, because I...
For some reason, you never hear the Pakistani community talk about AIDS or anything,
so you don't think it's a problem.
But I do agree with you. I think we have to be pragmatic.
The problems of adopting from Pakistan are becoming a major worry.
-'Good evening from Islamabad.'
And now a country already in political turmoil
suffers its worst natural catastrophe of modern times.
The floods have left 20 million homeless,
making the country even more unstable.
-They're desperate, aren't they?
Despite the chaos in Pakistan,
Saira is still determined to adopt a baby from Edhi.
But for someone usually in control of her life, this is a step into the unknown.
She's come to talk things through with her brother Tazz,
and Sadhi, his Pakistani-born wife.
But Tazz, what happens if they come back
and they say the baby's got thalassemia or HIV or AIDS?
It's not fair on Zach that we're going to have this baby and the attention will be
focussed on its health issues.
If it's got a genetic issue that means it's going to affect our life, we can't take that on board.
But that sounds awful. That's like designer babies, because it's like,
if we have a child and he's got a disability,
we can't say to the hospital, "By the way, you can keep him and we'll try again."
That's what it's like. It's going to be awful.
Adopting a baby in Pakistan
means being in Karachi for up to three months.
Whether to take Zach or leave him in the UK is now a real concern.
Steve's not getting worried about Karachi, but it's what we do with Zach.
Um, are you... Oh, right, OK.
So, you see, no matter what happens, we have to leave him for quite a while. What would you do?
Do you think you'd be scared, Sadhi?
Would you go with your children now?
It is difficult and it's different now, the situation changes.
You've got to, haven't you, really?
That's what I think, I've got to, I'm adopting a kid.
You know, it's not like we're buying a house.
We're adopting a child and there's... I don't think, in Pakistan, there'll ever be a right time to go.
We know Steve, people don't know Steve, they see him as a westerner
adopting a Muslim child.
You can... You know, there is, there's, there's fanatics out there,
there's nutters out there.
I'm worried about that because it does play on your mind a bit.
-Does play on your mind.
As well as their worries about safety in Pakistan,
one of the most dangerous countries in the world,
Saira has to make sure they're registered with the orphanage in Karachi.
She had thought her visit there four years ago would help make things go smoothly.
But she's having real problems getting hold of the owner,
I'm trying to phone the orphanage, trying to speak to Belquis, who runs it.
I've got this lady called Almas, who keeps saying,
"Oh, um, Saira from England, why are you phoning?"
I'm like, "I'm phoning because I want to adopt and you've got my file."
It's so frustrating,
so I've got to make sure that I don't piss this woman off.
I've decided that's it, I'm not going to now contact them until I go to Pakistan.
With no formal process to follow, Saira knows a lot depends on
making a good impression with Belquis.
She alone decides who adopts from Edhi and which baby they're given.
Are you going to play with Sabrina, Zach?
Saira and Steve need someone to put their case at the orphanage.
-He's got something for Zach.
Amjad's going to Karachi on a family visit,
and knowing they need help, has agreed to meet Belquis there.
The other thing I was going to say was, obviously, you're going to Pakistan.
And what we want to talk to you about is, is there anything that we can do
to kind of develop a relationship with Belquis, in terms of we have no...
we don't know what to expect.
Because it's not face to face, even if they did have email, Saira,
there's no point, you need to speak to them, you know what it's like.
I know Pakistan is totally about being...
Amjad and Sobia have been through the procedure at Edhi twice,
and they know handling Belquis can be tricky.
Two weeks later, Amjad returns from Karachi.
It's not all good news.
He struggled to convince Belquis to accept Saira and Steve
onto her waiting list, because of their mixed marriage.
The thing that Belquis seems to have been very concerned about,
was the fact that Steve was not a Muslim.
And that was the point that Amjad, sort of said to Belquis,
"Look, Belquis, I've met Steve, he's better than a Muslim".
When they first got together, religion is something the couple never really dealt with.
When I met Steve, I can honestly tell you,
I don't think I ever, ever discussed being a Muslim with him.
He just saw me as Saira, one of the lads, cheeky, fun, let's go and party.
And that's what he fell in love with.
Saira's faith only became an issue when they decided to get married.
And it was... I really... it came up because of my mum.
One thing, my mum is religious...
and it means a lot to her.
So, I said to Steve, "Look, you're going to have to convert to Islam."
It took a while for it to dawn on me what they were asking me to do,
because I come from a...you know, come from a background where,
it's a bit trivial to say, but we don't do religion, really.
I think I did feel, at the time, compromised.
In some ways, I guess I felt that I might've lost a part of my identity by going through that.
You know, it wasn't something that I would have done
if I had been given a really clear choice in the matter.
He did it and it made my mum feel really happy.
But then after, like a year afterwards,
we did sit my mum down and say, "Mum, just so that you know,
"Steve said he was a Muslim just to marry me.
"I'm really sorry that's going to break your heart, but we had to do it.
"You ain't going to see Steve praying five times a day and doing all of those things."
In our culture, there's this thing about, you do one thing in private
and you do another thing for the public.
And d'you know what?
I've had to lie for my existence, with my parents, for most of it,
definitely up until my dad died.
Everything I did was a lie.
"Where did you go?" "To a friend's house." I'd been to a party.
"What were you wearing?" "I wore trousers."
Took the trousers off and got a short skirt on.
"How much did that cost?" "Oh, it was only £5."
£100... You know, to protect them.
But I just wanted, like, with my mum, to say,
"Mum, I'm going to a party and I'm wearing this and I'll be back later."
But I couldn't have that conversation with her, because it just didn't...
you just don't.
Are you going to change?
Hannah's here, you know Hannah's here, don't you?
-It's absolutely fine.
-She's flapping around, she's uh, she's been to a photo shoot.
So, she's dressed in the style that her mother wouldn't approve of.
Saira and Steve are four months into the home study assessment,
and so far, they've found opening their lives up to Hannah, therapeutic.
The home study seems to be going well.
Thanks for your presence, we really appreciated it.
'Throughout this process, I'm talking about things that I wouldn't,'
just wouldn't talk about them.
About my dad, about my mum, about my relationship
with my brothers and sisters, what does it mean to me?
And she's laughing cos she... It happens every bloody day.
'You know, and I actually look forward to Hannah sitting there,
'every other week saying, "Today we're talking about relationships."
'"Tell me about your relationship with Steve."'
Women would understand.
I have to dig deep and think, you know, yeah, actually,
regardless of the fact that I bicker and point to him
and shout and scream, I love him so much.
'And to be in touch with that and remember that is a really lovely feeling.'
-All right, Hannah.
-OK, take care.
-Thank you bye, bye-bye.
But as part of the process, Hannah has private meetings with referees,
the couple's close friends and family.
One of Saira's referees has told her some new information about Saira's past relationships.
Until now, Saira has only felt able to give an edited version of the truth.
She's never talked about boyfriends because she wants to protect her mum.
Having agreed to let the cameras follow the whole adoption process,
Saira's been caught between wanting to tell Hannah everything,
and feeling unable to do so
because of the distress talking publicly could cause her family.
..Your relationship history, I wanted to talk about that more.
And obviously, because, you know, that's information that's just about you,
that's why I've asked Steve to sort of go away, if you like.
-So that we can revisit the session, almost.
So, um, I think what you said is that you hadn't had any significant partners.
OK, I've only had really, like, two proper relationships before Steve.
-One was a boy, who was my very first boyfriend when I was 18
and we split up when I left university at 21.
OK and what about Maurizio?
So, Maurizio, um, I'm just trying to think.
-I lived with him in Brighton for, I would say for probably two years.
I am worried because we may need to look at seeking a reference from Maurizio
-because you did live with him.
-I've got his details.
But I never introduced any of these boys to my mum because
it's just, culturally, I could never do that.
I want to protect her. I don't want to say,
"I slept with Maurizio, but we're not getting married." That would destroy her.
I can understand where you're coming from with your mum,
but I'm slightly concerned that that's impacted on what you've told me in the assessment.
I don't know, I just wonder what you think about that?
We have been honest about everything and that's something that I perhaps should've...
I didn't think it was important so I didn't raise it.
Saira has withheld information to protect her mother and her family.
That omission, the presence of the TV cameras,
and cultural differences, have to be weighed up by PACT director, Satwinder Sandhu.
I spoke to Saira on her own about her individual profile and the gaps that I felt I had.
And it actually transpires that she has had two significant relationships,
although she doesn't consider them significant.
One of them was a university boyfriend and the second one
was a more significant partner and they did live together for two to three years.
I explained to Saira that I was concerned that she hadn't considered it necessary
to mention that partner, particularly on the basis
that they did live together and she'd been asked.
-For three years?
'This assessment process is about minimising the risk to a child.
'So if an applicant withheld any sort of information in the process,
'we have to take it seriously.'
And that very recommendation about approaching partners for independent references
came out of a case of a child that was killed by an adoptive father.
And had that local authority at that point gone and verified those references from an ex-partner,
they would've known this man had psychopathic tendencies,
because his ex-wife and child would've told them.
-Previous relationships are discussed at initial interview stage.
-So there's been the initial interview.
-Yeah. There's been the...
-Cos that again clearly asks for significant relationships.
Has she done the chronology? Have you seen that? That's not on there.
You know, it's very hard to sort of assess, you know,
what the exact reason was, but part of it was to do with the fact that
her mum doesn't know these partners, these previous partners as partners.
She didn't really feel able to discuss it at that.
We do say, right from the word go,
from our initial information, that the whole process is based on openness.
And we'll be open and transparent with you and we expect the same in reverse.
'I think we're all grown up enough and sensible enough
'to understand that there's always going to be a tier
'that we're never going to get. And whatever you do, it will always be a snapshot'
of a moment in time or of the present.
It's the future we're trying to almost predict.
What's going to happen when this child joins your family and brings these issues?
I suppose there's two issues.
-One, I completely understand the cultural context.
And the relationship issue between any mother and daughter.
That still doesn't take away from the fact
that it raises all these questions for me,
about how she feels she's perceived by friends, family, whoever it might be.
-So, in three years' time, you know, she's struggling.
-She's got two children under the age of five.
-Things aren't going according to plan.
-You know, what does she do? Is she going to struggle on and keep it a sort of secret?
-Or does she come to somebody and ask for support?
Again, adopting from overseas, particularly in Pakistan, is a completely unknown quantity.
They don't know the background of the child they're going to be taking, so anything can happen.
Well, I think we need Harriet to do a second opinion for us, really.
-And if anyone can thrash it out, she can.
-I'm Steve, how you doing? Welcome in.
-Come on through.
PACT now asks Saira's ex for a reference
and senior social worker Harriet prepares a further report.
We'll get you a cup of tea, or coffee or whatever you like. What would you like?
-Black tea would be really nice.
-Black tea, OK.
Hello, sorry I'm late. It's one of those days. Hello, Harriet. Lovely to meet you.
Well, let's start at the beginning, really, which is...
What do you think I'm going to ask you about?
I think probably one of the first questions you might want just reassuring is why we're adopting?
-Why do we think we're suitable?
-Yeah, why do we think we're suitable?
You know, is there anything that we're withholding that you,
you know, that you, you think you should know about?
But, I mean, I think we've said to Hannah that there absolutely is not, so...
There's some of those questions I think will come up.
I suppose, for me, if we jump in at the deep end
-and I will be challenging, I'm afraid.
-OK, that's OK.
Um, the first thing that comes up for me is,
is that you withheld significant information.
I suppose I'm wondering why that was
and how you came to the decision
that you were going to be honest in the process.
-OK, can I answer this one, because it's relating to me?
The reason that I didn't mention one previous, um, partner was a cultural thing.
The repercussions of me saying I've had a previous boyfriend,
and I was not going to marry him, that is huge.
It's not a big thing in British, white, Western culture.
In my culture, that is something very significant.
And my family would be branded as having a daughter that was a slag and a slut and all that.
So it, it...
I imagine that the process was explained
about the need for being honest and open.
-I genuinely think...
-Saira, let me explain.
I genuinely think Saira didn't consciously lie.
I mean, I've known Saira for ten years
and I know with our relationship, she's incredibly honest with me.
But I do know that she withholds information from her mother.
I've read the report. There are lots of qualities, lots of strength,
but the reason for us going on at length
is that the breakdown of adoptions is quite significant.
And what we want to do is make sure that you're successful at this,
that you're as well prepared as you can be.
-We all make mistakes.
But I think there is an issue that is of concern,
which is about being open and honest about the adoption process.
And if you've understood that, I'm pleased.
Steven, do you know what really annoyed me?
It fucking annoyed me that that one thing...
they've just latched onto it,
I don't know whether they're doing it to catch me out.
They're not. That's part of the process.
All right, but the thing is, right, it's about me
living with Maurizio in a rented house for a year.
-Yeah? And then, OK, I'm really sorry, I didn't tell you,
these are the reasons why, this is whatever.
-He's even sent them a reference. Why can't they put that to bed?
-I'm going to tell my mum about Maurizio.
-I think you should.
Yeah, I am going to tell her, because it's going to be raised at panel.
I said to her, "What do you want?
-"Me to cut my heart open and say what..."
-OK, calm down now.
-How can I prove to you...?
-Before you tell your mum...
I'm not going to calm down. This is really important to me.
It's not like you.
"Steve's really measured, Steve's really this, really that...
-I've got to be!
-You know why? Cos he's had a fucking great life...
-Hey, hey, hey, Saira.
No, but that's what annoys me, Steven. It's like good cop, bad cop
and I feel like the bad cop.
Do you know why? Because I am expressive,
-I am loud - but that's my culture, that's how I am.
-I'm making a cup of tea, OK?
Listen, I've got to tell you.
You know one of the questions she was asking me was...
Do you remember my friend, Maurizio? The Italian guy?
Who came to my wedding, who stayed with us, you really liked him.
Well, in London, I lived with him because we shared the rent.
That is true.
No, this no lying.
You can't protect them forever, so it's just, you know...
So that's all it was, that's why... Mum's fine.
PACT now have all the information they need to compile the report.
The final decision whether to approve Saira and Steve
as adoptive parents will only be made
when they appear before an independent panel.
Yogurt, check. Well done, Daddy.
But in the meantime, the situation in Pakistan continues to intensify.
"An explosion has all but destroyed a police compound
"in a high security zone in the Pakistani port city of Karachi,
"the base for officers investigating militant attacks,
"and at least 20 people are dead."
-That's a Edhi ambulance there.
-Yeah, I know.
Oh, my God.
I mean, there's stuff going on, you know,
we've just got to keep an eye on it, it's happening all the time.
It seems to be happening more in Islamabad now, as well.
Having looked at that report, let's say you had to go next week, would you still go?
-I would go.
-Yeah, that's the thing, I would go.
It does scare me a little bit now that I'm a mum, because I think about Zach.
Mm. Like you say, we just have to think,
we have to be clear, to keep a close eye on what's happening out there
and at the moment, my mind is firmly made up
that Zach is not entering the country.
We've just got to keep an eye on it.
I think we have got to have some options.
I think whatever happens, one option that is not available
is we ain't adopting from anywhere but Pakistan.
Saira knows if they do get approved,
it makes sense to leave Zach behind in Oxford with Steve.
She has no idea how long that might be for.
You go to pick up the child, you get the abandonment certificate.
She'll need as much help as she can get
with the Pakistan side of the process.
Keep the original, make sure you have lots of copies.
That goes out everywhere, keep that.
Then contact a lawyer and we'll give you the lawyer's name.
But Sobia's experience of being given a seriously ill baby has been playing on her mind.
Can I ask you a really personal question?
If you knew that a funny shaped head
could be a sign of thalassemia, and you saw a baby with a funny shaped...
-what would you have said, do you think?
-I don't know.
You see, because this is what I think,
if I saw a sign and I can make those sort of judgments...
-We all do.
-Yeah, if I can make those judgements I may have to say to Belquis,
"I'm really sorry, but because of the shape of the baby's head,
"there may be some issues there, so could I have another look at one?"
Do you have any idea how she would react to me on that?
I think you've got to play it...
Just be careful what you say and how you say it.
How do you say that without...?
You could possibly say, "Is there another baby you could show me?"
-She's going to say, "Why?"
-Well, I don't know, we haven't...
We saw two and we brought two home.
-Yeah, I mean you can't talk for me...
-I can't talk for you.
It's so unpredictable.
Saira is now feeling the pressure
of going to Karachi to get a baby on her own.
-So, you know when I went to see Sobia?
There's quite a lot for me to do when I get over there.
Well, yeah, let's not get started on it.
We've got to start on it. I'm not being silly,
but we've been going through this process for quite a long time.
We don't really talk about it that much.
You're always so busy with work.
I just feel like I understand what I've got to go through
and you are emotionally detached from that,
because you haven't sat through those emotional meetings.
You know, I'm thinking I'm going to be there, in Pakistan, on my own,
they're going to give me a child.
I'm thinking, "What is my reaction going to be like?"
What if the child, you know, doesn't look right?
How do I say to Belquis, "I don't think the kid looks right"?
Like, you've sat there with me, with social workers
and we've been asked 100 questions.
You sat with me and I feel we've coped with that, that's fine.
-But this part, I understand...
-The most crucial part, I'm not being silly,
but you've said to me, I've got to go.
Someone's going to give me this baby and I'm going to make a decision
about the baby that we have for the rest of my life, you're not going to be there.
-How does that make you feel?
-I don't think it's...
After eight months of preparation, it's the night before panel.
They're almost there.
But there's still no guarantee that Saira and Steve will be approved.
And what you do is you let me talk about it and you listen and you go, "Mm, yeah."
But Saira, I've asked, and we've talked about it regularly and constantly, now we...
Steven, stop saying "regularly"! When have we talked about it regularly and constantly?
Oh, Saira, it's just like... We are living in different worlds, clearly. Totally different worlds.
When have you talked about it regularly and constantly?!
Just about every day, I think, every single day.
We have talked...? Right, so I'm a nutcase, sitting here?
We've talked about it every single day for the last six months
and I'm a nutcase, sitting here saying you don't talk about it?
Yeah, I think you are a nutcase, to be honest with you.
I'm going to bed.
Saira still has hours of work to do tonight
and there is no-one to care for Zach
whilst they attend the all-important panel hearing in the morning.
Did you see Zach before he went to sleep?
-Yeah. Not before HE went to sleep, no.
I mean, he's...
Well, there's no way... We can't take Zach there, can we?
-What time have we got to leave? Did you say eight o'clock?
We could drop Zach off at half-eight at the nursery on the dot.
That won't give us enough time, though.
All right, have you got to write this article?
Yeah, I've got to go down and do that then, so...
-What time is it?
-I just said, twenty to midnight.
-Yeah, yeah, all right, then.
Saira and Steve will appear
before a panel of lay people and social workers.
Thank you. Well, we thought it was a great report,
we really enjoyed reading it and feel we've got a very good picture
of Steven and Saira. So you've done lots of hard work, thank you.
OK, so matters we'd like possibly a bit more discussion about.
-A very successful career lady.
There may be conflict for her,
between childcare and pursuing her career.
And I just wondered whether he's running his own business
and how much that might impact
on his willingness to make time for his family.
Their little boy is already in nursery seven hours a day,
every day, and he's only two.
I think it really seems that we have a consensus
on the concerns we've all noted, that the little boy is only two
and he's in nursery full-time.
Supposing an adoptive child is not...
that's not appropriate for an adoptive child, how will she cope?
Which will come first, the career or the child?
Oh, thank heavens for that.
I'll just sort that out, do you want to go in and grab Hannah?
-I just want to say I love you.
After an hour of deliberation, the panel take a vote.
Oh, my God, I'm just going to start crying already.
Well, you do what you need to do, Saira, if you need to cry.
The beginning of their journey. Thank you.
Say good luck to them.
-Yeah, it was unanimous.
-Thank you so much.
-Thank you so much.
Now they've been approved to adopt by the UK Social Services,
Saira will travel to the orphanage in Karachi.
She will have no idea until she gets to Pakistan
when, or if, she will come back with a baby.
People assume the assessment's going to be the tough bit
and then the waiting and finding the child will be euphoric.
Each stage can be equally difficult.
You almost haven't had time for your emotions to catch up
with the reality of what's happening,
so it can seem very surreal
and start to almost feel a bit like a dream.
Because, actually, even though you know what's coming,
you haven't quite yet prepared and adjusted emotionally for it.
And for some people, those emotions and drives will be paralysing.
And it's not unheard of to have people at that late stage
just not be able to do it.
Cos it's all becoming, like, really...
when we were trying to have a baby and when Zach came along,
there's a point, you get your three-month check,
and you get a little bit happier, a bit more optimistic
and there's little stages through a pregnancy,
but it's also very visible.
You've got a bump appearing by about, whatever,
six or seven months.
You can feel little kicks happening, you have another scan,
whereas with this, we're in the final weeks.
In two weeks' time,
I could be the proud father of a little baby girl
but to me, there still feels like a lot that is in the...
There's a lot of unknowns.
It's nerve-wracking as well, cos you don't know anything about the baby
-and you just go.
-Have you had any contact?
No, nothing at all, so I'll just be turning up.
It just feels a bit weird, buying for a baby that I haven't met
and I don't know anything about.
I've bought some baby clothes and they're stunning
and I thought this might make me feel better but it's making me feel worse,
because I don't know how big this baby is,
what this baby's going to look like.
You know, is she seven pounds? Is she ten pounds?
Is she three months? Is she two months? I don't know.
I... You know, if, if I was...
I remember when I bought Zach's first teddy
and there was so much warmth and so much connection
and I thought, "I'm buying this,"
even though I hadn't seen Zach, obviously he's growing inside you,
everybody is rooting for you to have that baby safe.
They want to know, you get cards, people send you cards,
"Congratulations, you've got pregnant."
"How's your scan going?" All of those things.
With adoption, I'm still getting a child at the end of it
and I know that as soon as that child's brought back,
my family will come together. Great.
But I actually need the support right now.
I haven't been able to talk to Steve about it
and instead of, you know, perhaps...
and I'm not blaming Steve for this...
..because I've been trying to get him to open up a little bit more,
we've just been arguing.
I want to attack him, I just want to have a go at him.
It's like, "Give me some emotion!" Because inside my head,
there's all these things going on and if I'm feeling it,
why aren't you feeling it? How can you just go,
"If that's what you've got to do, it's what you've got to do"?
He does feel it, but doesn't know how to articulate it.
You can't just tell me to be instantly emotional about something.
I tend to talk almost every day about what we're doing
and sort of say to her, "Are we doing this in the right way?
"Are we doing the right thing for us as a family?"
But she's got... It's the old, you know,
the classic sort of male/female differences
-about how you talk about stuff. People are different.
I feel like I'm just going out on my own
and people are just like, "Bring the baby back and you'll be fine."
OK, I know I'm a tough person and I can handle it,
but I do feel really scared about that moment.
And the other thing that I can't get out my head is
I'll go into the orphanage and they'll give this baby
and it's not mine until I know that it's OK.
I've got to go and have pins and needles stuck in it
and what if there's something wrong with it?
It might take a week for these results to come back,
but the orphanage give you the baby
so what happens if there is something wrong with it
and I've bought all these little lovely clothes
and hats and amazing things,
you know and, and I... You know, what will I do?
-I love you.
-I want to go with Mummy.
-I want to go with Mummy.
You go with Daddy.
Zachy, Mummy's going to go and then you'll come with Daddy another time.
-Can I have a kiss, please?
-Please. I love you.
-I love you, sweetheart.
-I love you too.
-I love you too.
-I love you too.
Bye, Mama. Bye, Mama.
Nanny's crying, that's right. Nanny's crying.
You'll look after Nanny. Will you look after Nanny?
Oh, my God, Steven, quick!
Halibi's just come in and apparently there's a little baby girl
and they want us to come and see her and sort of...
Oh, I guess... Do you want us to take her away? I don't know.
Oh, my gosh.
I think I'll have to take a bit of a... I'll just have to just...
-Oh, no. Hold on, I just feel really weird now.
You've waited for this moment for so long to happen, I can imagine.
-Come on, Saira.
-I know, but just hold on for two minutes.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail - [email protected]
These two 60-minute documentaries follow Saira Khan and her husband Steve on their journey to adopt a baby girl from an orphanage in Karachi, Pakistan.
The first programme follows the couple as they embark on the rigorous UK adoption process. Even though they hope to get a baby from the Edhi Orphanage in Karachi, they have to go through the same home study as anyone who wants to adopt within the UK. Over eight months, they undergo visits lasting three hours from their social worker every fortnight, where they're asked to open up every aspect of their lives, backgrounds and relationships.
As the couple have many questions about what will happen in Pakistan, Saira contacts a couple who have already adopted two children from the Edhi Orphanage. Sobia and Amjad have a son and a daughter. However, their daughter has the genetic blood disorder, thalassaemia. They were not aware of it when they picked her up at the orphanage. After Saira and Steve visit the family, they realise that they too will have no idea of the medical history of any baby they are given.
The problems of adopting in Pakistan continue to intensify. Then the country suffers one of the worst natural catastrophes of modern times; the floods leave 20 million people homeless.
Saira and Steve have to make a tough decision. If and when they do travel to Karachi, Steve will have to stay behind in Oxford with their two-year-old son Zach. Saira will go on her own to try and find a baby.
After appearing before an independent panel, they are finally approved. It is time for Saira to fly to Pakistan in search of a baby. She has no idea how long she might be away or even if she will be given a baby at all.