Charlotte Dryden-Kelsey

Charlotte is an illustrator, designer and adoptive mum based in the Wiltshire countryside. She began her career as a clothing designer and still has a strong emphasis on textiles in her work. Charlotte works primarily in ink and watercolor and loves drawing from life and capturing little family moments.

“As lockdown began in March 2020 my IVF had failed and after five years trying to conceive, I discovered that I was completely infertile and would never be a biological mother. I was utterly broken hearted. During that first lockdown my husband and I began our journey to become approved as adopters. We began our Stage One social worker visits and training over teams and made tentative steps to becoming a family.

My illustrations are all part of an ongoing picture book project The Patchwork Family. I began sketching the beginnings of this story during the 2020 lockdown and it has evolved and developed over time. This is a story aimed at gently raising the subject of a unique family make up that would help adoptive families, as well as those who have been through donor conception, surrogacy, SGO/foster families and those raised by step parents. The subject of being part of a non-biologically related family is raised in an abstract way to start conversations around identity, family and belonging.

This project has been my way of thinking about how I would bring up themes of identity and family with my child and hold space for them to speak about how they feel as they grow and understand their life story. It was also a way of imagining the little family moments I wanted so desperately, the bath and bedtime routine, snuggling on the sofa as a family and having a house full of toys.

My husband and I were approved as adopters in October 2020 and that winter lockdown was a long one as we waited to match with a child. In January 2021 our social worker told us of a little boy in foster care who she thought might be a good match for us. It took six months of court orders and social worker panel meetings for the match to be approved. In the Summer of 2021 we welcomed a beautiful little boy as our son. He has been home over a year now and has made us such a happy family. He is a constant joy and inspiration, our hearts and home are finally full.”