Do adoptive parents really realise what they're getting in to?

(143 Posts)
Zavi Fri 14-Sep-12 20:19:41

I know that many infertile couples, or established families, turn to adoption as a way of creating happy family units but I wonder how many realise that having an adopted child - especially if it's not newborn(ish) - realise what they're getting in to. Children that are available for adoption almost always come from horribly dysfunctional families and that the children, unfortunately, have inherent issues, some of which will never be overcome by love/best intention.
It's my view that if childless couples/singles think that they will be able to form ready-made happy families with the type of children who are up for adoption then they are going to have a rude awakening.

Kewcumber Fri 14-Sep-12 23:47:17

Asmywhimsytakesme - when was this? It was very common at one time and although it does still happen, it much less common now.

StillSquiffy Fri 14-Sep-12 23:47:56

Oh FFS, your ignorance is outstanding.

Of course you know what you are getting into. DH and I walked away broken from the whole process when we realised we weren't good enough people to handle the issues that would come our way.

Your posts are the most offensive I have read in a long long while.

Maryz Fri 14-Sep-12 23:51:41

Parenting is about giving, giving, giving. And if you aren't prepared to give, it is probably better not to have children, adopted or not.

I have an (adopted) child with issues. A friend of mine has a child born to her with more serious issues. We both love our children, worry about them, parent them to the best of our abilities.

Of course, with hindsight, maybe I should say "I only wanted a perfect child, I was sold a dud. I should have been warned".

But could she not also say that - could parents look for more ante-natal testing, genetic research (God knows, if we all looked for possible genetic problems in our families - mh issues, autism, premature birth and the problems it brings, educational needs etc etc would any of us have children?)?

Asmywhimsy, I agree, much more information about background/abuse should be made available to adoptive parents, and I hope that is changing as research shows that love isn't enough. I also believe that adopted children deserve the same health and educational support as foster children would have (so that children don't get shifted from possible adoption to long term foster care because of additional needs).

But to say (as the op does) that all adoptive parents are going to have a rude awakening is not true. The vast majority of adoptions are happy, the vast majority of adopted children do well. The trouble is that the media aren't interested in those ones, they are only interested in the "horror stories".

Kewcumber Fri 14-Sep-12 23:52:16

Zavi - its not that I actively disagree with anything you have said. Its just a bit like being lectured by a very earnest first year sociology student.

Can I ask you a question?

What makes you think any prospective adopter is going to listen to someone who has zero experience of adoption (I'm assuming thats what "second hand" means) when there are older, wiser, more experienced heads on this forum some of whom has faced the problems you philosophise about, who can and do, give sound realistic advice?

Zavi Sat 15-Sep-12 00:04:41

At least with our own kids we know where we've gone wrong and we know how our behaviour effects our kids ( they're like sponges right,!) but with kids that have had to be adopted all you know is that their upbringing has been so rubbish that they have has to be removed from that environment.
Kids that are up for adoption are usually very damaged.
What I'm saying is that those who want to adopt should be people who are primarily interested in homing damaged children - not people who are looking to create or build on an existing family.
And child-free people who are looking to adopt ought not to think that gaining a child through adoption will simply fill the void.
Adoption, under any circumstances, has family/relationship breakdown at its core and every adopted kid will have to face those issues in relation to that breakdown. Natural kids may have other issues but they will never have to face the issues that adopted kids face.

HappySunflower Sat 15-Sep-12 00:05:05

I've read your original post three times, but I'm struggling to understand why you have posted really, Zavi!

You have posted in the Adoption topic, hence many of us have been there, done it and have the children (and grey hairs) to show for it.
Speaking for myself, after a 3 year process, dozens of assessment sessions, meeting and talking with with many people who had adopted already, and hours and hours of reading and research- yes I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting in to before I made the decision to become a parent through adoption.
It was not a decision that I, or any of us made without great consideration.

I find that most of your comments are applicable to any parents, really, not just adopters and your posts are actually coming across as rather patronising considering that you have no first hand experience of adoption.

I get the feeling that there is a back story to this that you are not sharing- might you care to explain your 'second hand experience' of adoption to us?

Flojo1979 Sat 15-Sep-12 00:05:52

I didn't have a clue what I was getting into. That's cos I didn't get interviewed and go on courses etc, that's cos I give birth to my kids. Not a clue.
Adoptive parents are much more informed than birth parents, why do u think these kids r in care in the first place? Cos birth parents ain't a f***ing clue.
Bit like u then.

'our own kids'? hmm

I think you'll find that adopted children are their parents' 'own kids' too.

Lilka Sat 15-Sep-12 00:16:22

Actually, people who adopt should be looking to build a family. Our children are not some kind of charity cases taken in to be healed by parents with some martyr rescuer complex

I was childless - I adopted to gain a family. And what have I got? A family!! I have no regrets, like Mary. And yes, we deal with plenty of adoption related issues

Kew - grin Should be a bestseller!!

KateSpades - Nearly all children adopted nowadays are taken away because of abuse, neglect, doemstic violence, drugs misuse etc. Then frequently have moves in foster care. They may face self esteem issues as you said, but we are talking more about the effects of abuse. Attachment issues, behavioural problems, foetal alcohol syndrome to give a few examples

Asmywhimsytakesme Sat 15-Sep-12 00:27:06

It was a while ago and I agree it is becoming rarer (friends recently adopted with full history which was a very bad start for the dc sadsad )

Lilka Sat 15-Sep-12 00:27:36

Edit to last post to Kate - self esteem issues are a pretty common in children in the care system, so scratch that. Actually, all of the things you listed are things you might expect to see in adopted children today. But I wouldn't necessarily expect to see them in adoptees from 30-40-50 years ago, because it was rare to be adopted as anything other than a baby then, and most were relinquished babies, not abused

Lilka Sat 15-Sep-12 00:35:27

Asmy - I think the trend is far more towards more disclosure. I have fought to get scraps of information relating to my older 2 children, who were adopted in the mid 90's and early 00's. However I there are still a few bad LA'a who do deliberately mislead sadly. Many places still do not allow adoptive parents to view their childs full files. Even if they are totally honest, the reality is that they won't know everything about the child, sometimes they will know surprisingly little. The birth parents may be unwilling to give them information about the childs early life. If there was no SS involvement in early life, there may be little records of the child save medical. Information is in many different places held by various people eg. police, SS, doctors, school and so on. That means that a full history is very unlikely, because it's rare for records to be organised together. Of course you may get a good picture, but even in the best most professional LA, I would say that a total full history is impossible. It's a leap of faith. But, one that results for the majority in a happy family!

Lovesoftplay Sat 15-Sep-12 08:46:24

I am genuinely shocked by your OP and subsequent posts. I don't even know what to say other than.....I can't believe that someone with "second hand" experience of adoption feels its appropriate to lecture a group of parents on a subject that they have years and years of experience in and live with every day.

I most certainly was looking for a family when we adopted, and I find your terminology of "homing damaged children" extremely offensive. They are not dogs, they are children who through no fault of their own have been royally fucked over by their birth parents.

Also, my adopted children are "my own".

KateSpade Sat 15-Sep-12 08:53:17

Thankyou for replying. I was never abused, and was given up as a baby, & never really felt anything negative about being adopted, so I just wondered if their was anything I could relate too.

Adoption is a wonderful thing, I wish more people wanted to do it.

OP your lack of understanding of the adoption process, the tests we go through as prospective adoptive parents, the training we undertake, and the follow ups when the child is initially placed in the family is astonishing. And laughable.

FWIW I have two children. One is a birth child and one is adopted. The birth child has cerebral palsy, epilepsy, & hydrocephalus. The adopted child has no health issues and is a loving & happy person, with lots of friends and doing well at school.

The adopted child came with a huge range of information regarding their background, and any potential issues. The birth child just arrived, and we learned how to look after them and to understand the diagnoses as we went along.

On a day to day basis OP, who do you think is the hardest to parent? The adopted child or the birth child?

And do you really believe the adopted child is not 'my own' or that I don't love them and value them as much as the birth child? Because I do, and I never forget how blessed I am to have them both

Adoption is hard. To get on the list to be trained as an adoptive parent is so difficult. The intrusion in your life whilst you are assessed is very hard to take. But I don't regret the adoption for one second, and I am so proud to have my adopted child in our home.

To prospective adopters, please don't let ill-informed views that are not based or personal experience or fact cloud your thinking.

Yorkpud Sat 15-Sep-12 09:13:51

Well, that is why the system is so thorough so that adoptive parents are aware what they are getting into and are ready to tackle the challenges as best they can.

4goingon14 Sat 15-Sep-12 09:33:37

I am not adopted nor have I adopted any children, however I do know a couple of people that have adopted. I think that people that go through the adoption process which seems to be long and incredibly intrusive, delving into corners of your life and relationship that would never normally be delved into, to bring a child into their home and nurture and love that child. To try and give that child everything that they never had before is simply amazing!

I wish I could be one of those amazing strong and incredible people that takes another human being into their home and heart and tries their utmost to give them the compassion, love and the time that they deserve. All human beings deserve this. All children deserve a chance at a life.

I think that it is incredibly sad OP that you have such a jaded view.

wannaBe Sat 15-Sep-12 09:49:32

I have never adopted, but I stumbled across this in active convos so I am going to opinionate on it anyway.

I think every parent is different. I think there are some who go into the idea of adoption with their eyes wide open to the challenges they are going to face, some who go into the idea of adoption with less of an idea and have their eyes opened during the process, and some who fail to take on the reality of what it's going to be like and then find themselves in unknown teratory when they finally get to adopt.

It will never be a one size fits all situation because every child is different, every set of parents is different, and every situation is unique.

What I do think however is that society's view of adoption is unrealistic. I have heard countless people say, when talking about putting off having a family that "well, if we can't have any children naturally we can always adopt." I have seen threads on mn when talking about infertility saying things to the effect of "I don't understand, if you can't have children naturally, why you don't just adopt, there are all these children out there in need of loving homes...." And of course when people decide to go down that route there is a harsher reality they must face if they haven't already done so, but I do think that there is still a bit of a romanticised view in the larger society, which possibly stems from a time when the children that were available for adoption were newborns being given up by parents who were simply unable to give them the best life, rather than the abused and neglected children of the disfunctional families of today.

jenny60 Sat 15-Sep-12 10:05:15

Guess what Zavi? Those of us who have adopted or are in the process of doing so, know a million more times about it than you do. You have NO idea about the processes we go through on the way to adoption. As mother to an adopted and a birth child, I can tell you that we were much, much better prepared for ad than bs.

Please stop telling us what is best. I don't have all the answers, but you really have no idea about what we actually MUST know and do learn as part our preparation.

Very good points Wannabe, particularly about adopting babies in the past. But these are exactly the issues discussed at great length over many weeks/months during adoption training courses. (Or at least that is my experience through the authority who took us on to train.) So the parents being assessed as potential adoptive parents are given the facts (as far as humanly possible) before even being approved to adopt. And these can include lots of pretty harrowing case studies.

Possibly the views of some sections of society are unrealistic regarding adoption. But I went into the process with my eyes open. And in fact - and I am sure we are extremely lucky, and very possibly in a minority, I cannot say - our experience (so far, 7 years in) is much less traumatic than we had been led to believe it would be.

NoMoreNotNever Sat 15-Sep-12 10:11:55

'deserving' kids! What about the undeserving, eh? Sod them? angry

And as for 'thinking twice', that's just laughable. The amount of investigation and intervention that happens before you get anywhere close to being matched with a child dispels any notion you seem to have of a couple going 'hey, let's get a kid! we're shopping on Saturday afternoon anyway, so could pick one up then.'. The chances of getting through that process and being approved without at least a thousand second thoughts and some understanding of the issues is zilch. Whether SS procedures disclose as much as they should in every case is another question.

You're making some awful assumptions here.

I know I sound a little outraged, but I'm adopted myself and would also have to adopt if I wanted a 'perfect' hmm family.

Chubfuddler Sat 15-Sep-12 10:13:03

I have no experience of adoption. But as a birth parent I have to say I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Not a clue.

motherinferior Sat 15-Sep-12 10:19:17

I have a birth child conceived five months after I met her father, the result of me thinking "oh I'll take a risk and I don't think I'm ovulating anyway". That's irresponsible. Believe me.

Kewcumber Sat 15-Sep-12 10:39:41

"What I'm saying is that those who want to adopt should be people who are primarily interested in homing damaged children" <snigger> sorry, but you do manage to make it sound a bit Battersea Dogs Home'esque!

Look, on the basis that you seem to be genuinely concerned about this for undisclosed reasons, to set your mind at rest:

a) the people who blithely say "Oh we'll just adopt" never do;
b) those of us who really had no idea what we were getting into were pretty clear by the time we'd finished our prep course which in my case had one day which became known as "the day of doom";
c) The 20% (I'm not sure how accurate that is) of adoptions which fail are because the children had more serious issues than anyone realised (including social services), the parents were unable to cope with the reality of those problems, or circumstances changed which made the parents unable to cope with the problems.
d) there are professionals whose job it is to make sure that parents know what they are getting into and to help find the best match possible for the children

If you are set on dabbling in the adoption world then you really need to sharpen up your adoption language pretty damn fast if you want anyone to engage you in any meaningful dialogue. Just so's you know - we are real parents who have real children who are our own - we aren't holographic babysitters. The fact that our children have two or three or four real parents doesn't make any one of them less real or less their own.

Kewcumber Sat 15-Sep-12 10:40:55

motherinferior - bet you knew what you were getting into though! And if your child turns out to have difficult problems you'll know where you've gone wrong.

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