AN inspiring woman from Maldon who was adopted as a baby is taking on this year’s London Marathon to thank the charity who found her the “perfect family”.

Childcare worker Emily Darling was just 18 months old when she arrived in the loving home of adoptive parents Christina and David Darling.

The couple decided to adopt Emily, who is now 25, with the help of children’s charity Barnardo’s, the largest voluntary adoption agency in the UK.

On Sunday, April 21, Emily will join thousands of other runners in the capital to tackle her first-ever marathon.

So far, she has raised more than £1,400 in aid of Barnardo’s.

Emily said: “Being adopted is all I’ve ever known, and I don’t view my life as being different from anyone else’s. 

Maldon and Burnham Standard: Smiles - Emily with her dad DavidSmiles - Emily with her dad David (Image: Emily Darling/Barnardo's)

“My parents are the most caring people in the world, and I have the perfect family.

“Of course, there are ups and downs sometimes, but I’ve also experienced love. 

“I have a good job, and being adopted gave me the chance to achieve my full potential. 

“Things could have gone very differently, and so many children deserve the same opportunity.”

Her parents’ only child, as a teenager Emily began volunteering with her mum to support other families who had adopted.

Christina left a career in banking to be a 'family finder' for Barnardo’s in the east of England region, working with local authorities and other agencies to provide guidance and well-planned adoption placements for children.

Emily said: “I volunteer at activity events for adopted children who have been matched with new families. 

“It’s about giving back and being able to talk to them. 

“Understandably, some children are a bit scared about the process. I’m able to explain how things are and have fun with them. I had a great childhood and there’s a lot of support out there.”

Emily has also followed in her mum’s footsteps, embarking on a career providing support and care to children with complex needs. 

As a support worker in a residential children’s home, Emily provides personalised care and stability to help children unlock their potential.

She said: “Mum had always said I was going to work with children one day, and she was right.

"I had a job in a tearoom during lockdown, and the moment I saw the advert for the children’s home, I knew I would be good at helping children in challenging situations. It’s what I love doing.”

With just weeks to go until the TCS London Marathon, Emily, who was inspired to run after seeing a friend take part last year, is stepping up her training in the hope she can encourage others to consider adoption.

Maldon and Burnham Standard: Fundraising - Emily Darling, from MaldonFundraising - Emily Darling, from Maldon (Image: Emily Darling/Barnardo's)

She said: “Barnardo’s does such a lot for children. It’s about keeping them safe, and this can’t be done without charitable donations. 

“Being adopted is the best thing that ever happened to me. While I know there can be difficult parts to any adoption journey, there are also great ones, as you would find with any family situation. 

“It’s an amazing thing to experience love for a child, and it’s hugely important that we’re able to continue this work.”

Brenda Farrell, head of fostering and adoption at Barnardo’s, said: “At Barnardo’s, we welcome adopters from all walks of life, and Emily’s story is proof of what a stable, loving home can bring to a child’s life.

“As more families struggle to make ends meet, we are aware that without the right preventative support, more children could end up in care. 

“We are passionate about making a positive difference to the lives of the children and young people we support, as well as our adopters.

“We offer adoptive parents support and training every step of the way.

"We hope that more people will consider this life-changing journey.”

To find out more about Barnardo’s adoption and fostering service, visit

To support Emily’s fundraising efforts, visit here.