Essex: Couple give up their high street shop to adopt two children

IT takes a brave person to close down a business to adopt two children.

But that is exactly what Kelly and Ruth McManus-O’Connell have done.

The couple had their last day of trading as O’Connells in Dunmow High Street on Friday as they start a new chapter in their lives.

For once, it was not a lack of trade which forced this small business to close but the decision to adopt two children, a five-year-old boy and two-year-old girl.

“It explains why we’ve closed down so quickly,” explained Ruth. “We only put the signs up that we were closing a month ago and we were out as of Saturday.

“We had been trading for 12 years, so it sad to move on but we think we are making the right decision.

“The economy is on the downturn and things are looking gloomy but we’ve been telling everyone why we’re leaving. People shouldn’t lose faith in Dunmow’s High Street.”

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The McManus-O’Connells have been foster parents for the past four years but decided to go to the next step by adopting.

The couple, who will be celebrating their second wedding anniversary in October, said it was the idea of life without the children that brought the adoption forward.

“We have had them since they were three-days-old and two-years-old and it got to the point where we couldn’t imagine living without them,” said Ruth.

“People have asked us if it is because we had them when they were babies, but it’s not that at all. We have cared for babies before but it is different this time around.”

And the pair have no intention of stopping there. Asked if their fostering days are over, Ruth replied: “Definitely not. Fostering is the make-up of our family so we’re taking a year off to let the adoption settle before fostering again next year.”

She also had advice for others who have looked at becoming foster parents.

“It is definitely a lifestyle change but it is one of the most rewarding things you can do. People seemed to be worried about taking in foster children but we have had an amazing amount of support.

“We moved to Elsenham three years ago and the residents and the school, as well as Essex County Council, have been amazing.”


• In order to provide every child with a home 100 additional foster carers are needed in Essex

• There is a particular shortage of foster carers who can keep brothers and sisters together, carers for older children and for children with disabilities

• More local carers are needed to enable children to stay close to their family, friends and school

• Foster carers come from a variety of backgrounds

• What foster carers have in common is patience, determination, understanding and the time to give to a young person • Foster carers may receive a carer’s fee and will receive allowances, full training and ongoing support.

• To find out more about fostering an Essex child call 0800 801 530 or visit