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.

motherinferior Sat 15-Sep-12 10:54:57

God, Kew, I had no idea. Very little. And I live in dread of the whole parenting lark going tits-up as my children enter adolescence. We all do. Adoptive or birth parents. Of course we do.

Narked Sat 15-Sep-12 11:05:19

I am going to post in the Chicken Keepers section. I have never kept chickens and don't have much direct experience of them but I think I need to warn people that those little feckers have feathers. And they don't produce eggs all neatly in 6 packs like in the supermarket.

Maryz Sat 15-Sep-12 11:13:56

What Kewcumber said (as usual).

And I get a bit sick of everyone assuming that all older children will be damaged, and all babies unscathed.

In my experience people adopted as babies can have issues about being voluntarily abandoned by their parents; people adopted as older children can have issues about the neglect/abuse they suffered before being adopted.

But children left with their birth families can also have issues relating to parenting - you only have to look on the Stately Homes threads and half of the relationships board to see this.

I get a bit sick of the continual quoting of the figures for adoption breakdown, and the continual stories of children who are unhappy with their adoptions, or of adoptive families that break down.

Because something like 80% of adoptions don't break down and more adopted children grow up to be happy functioning adults than don't.

Just like birth families - many are successful, a minority are disasters.

But we don't go around saying to people "don't have children, because some children have SN, some families break up, some children go off the rails, some have mh issues".

When we have children, by whatever method, we are taking a risk. For the vast majority, that risk turns out well, sadly for a small minority it is more difficult. But that doesn't make it a risk not worth taking hmm.

Kewcumber Sat 15-Sep-12 11:19:26

Also I'd say that it was only the motivation that I was desperate for a family that kept me going through the tougher times. If you limited adoption to only those who wanted to help out a needy child, I'm not sure many would get as far as actually adopting.

Kewcumber Sat 15-Sep-12 11:22:15

runamile - this thread runs the risk of sounding like we adoptive parents are dismissive of your experiences and really I hope you know we're not. If you would like to chat please do set up a new thread or feel free to pm me.

HappySunflower Sat 15-Sep-12 11:23:23

Many people seem to believe that people who adopt are on some kind of 'save the world' crusade.
Speaking for myself, I was single, knew I'd have issues conceiving, and wanted to be a parent, wanted to share life with a child, which- let's be honest, is why most people have children, isn't it?

Maryz Sat 15-Sep-12 11:26:44

Yes, it's the desperation to have children that makes us all go through the hoops we do before adoption. And it's the love we have for our own children that makes us happy to deal with any issues/problems they may have as they grow up. And in some ways that makes us better parents - not better as in better people, but better as in more prepared for what the future may bring.

I read some teenager threads on here where parents are ridiculously needy about their children, they expect their kids to be grateful for their existence almost. They are horrified at their children's attitude to them, they are totally unprepared that not all family life is fuzzy and warm and loving. Whereas I have a much more realistic view of being a parent, I know that the drive to parenthood is intrinsically selfish, that we have children to fulfil our own needs, not to give the children life, or a home, or anything like that.

And in that way, adoption is no different from having a child the so-called normal way.

Kayano Sat 15-Sep-12 11:33:17

This tread is so rude it is ridiculous. From
Someone who hasn't adopted!

Op have a biscuit and do one

motherinferior Sat 15-Sep-12 11:35:38

I know that the drive to parenthood is intrinsically selfish, that we have children to fulfil our own needs, not to give the children life, or a home, or anything like that.

EXACTLY.

Kayano Sat 15-Sep-12 11:39:11

I do NOT think society has an unrealistic view on adoption

I just think that those who have no desire or need to adopt and have not bothered to look Into have a different view.

And then come on here all shock when they realise it's not all a bed of roses. You're the only ones who thought that in the first place so to post here like an adoption authority is a bit of a piss take no?

I'd hate to think potential adopters are put off by you because ultimately - that's a child you are causing to suffer just because you didn't do your homework and have had a surprise hmm

Lilka Sat 15-Sep-12 11:44:12

I totally agree with Kew

You have to be very very determined to adopt. You won't 'think twice' you'll think hundreds of times. You'll get scared and wonder if you're doing the right thing, read books and more books on every adoption issue imaginable, sometimes you feel very confident you're on the right path, and then a few weeks later you'll think again for the two hundred and thirty third time

And as Kew said, I really think you have to want a family to get through it. Not sure any other motivation would be strong enough

Personally, most of the adoptive families I know are dealing with some extra adoption/abuse related issues. And nearly all are happy families with no regrets! I think there's too much of an image of a small number of adoptions which break down, then the vast majority where people have zero problems. I think a large percentage of adopters are dealing with problems, but are dealing with them as a (mostly happy) family unit or with some outside support, and do not regret their decisions. I do also get tired of mentionning issues, say therapy or PTSD or agression, and people thinking 'yikes, what a negative experience'.

You can be a very happy family dealing with some minor-moderate issues, and indeed, I think that is what the majority of adoptive parents will become

tabulahrasa Sat 15-Sep-12 11:47:29

Pfft I have no experience of adoption, but I think parents who do ate infinitely more prepared for what it involves than many parents.

All you need to do in preparation for giving birth is ovulate and have sex, that doesn't magically prepare you for parenthood nor does it stop your child having issues that you weren't expecting.

My DS has AS, in no way was I prepared for that, adoptive parents at least are able to inform themselves about likely issues beforehand never-mind whatever preparation work is done before adopting.

Lilka Sat 15-Sep-12 11:49:09

Totally and utterly agree with Mary

The decision to have a child (by birth or adoption) is a selfish one, and it should be as well.

There is an odd societal view (expressed on MN plenty of times) that adoption is selfless which I dislike very much, because it implies that the children are all awful or charity cases, and parents are martyrs. Actually, adoption is a selfish decision where the parent wants a family

tabulahrasa Sat 15-Sep-12 11:50:41

Hmm that reads a bit strangely, lol

Basically what I mean is that parents who become parents by other methods are IMO more prepared, precisely because they've used that method - they are the parents who had to think about it more and put in more effort, so are then better prepared.

funnychic Sat 15-Sep-12 14:38:11

The people on this forum never cease to amaze me in how thoughtful, eloquent and polite they are when replying to others, I however am not so polite and think you Zavi are a not as Kew has so kindly proffered think you are someone that is trying to "warn" propspective adopters I think you have come on here in order to get a reaction which clearly you have. How dare you come on here as someone with no first hand experience and preach to the people who do have. Your arrogance and sheer audacity has astonished me.
Do I seem pissed off? I most certainly am!

Thanks to everyone one else who as usual have offered insightful, thoughtful RELEVANT responses.

Greythorne Sat 15-Sep-12 14:58:48

OP - are you a bored teenager? I have never read such immature crap posturing as concern for the poor misguided parents who might adopt and - gasp - have a child with issues. Because it is just so different when you have a bio child, isn't it? No risk at all if unexpected problems. Oh, no.

MissFenella Sat 15-Sep-12 17:15:38

Agree with all the parents who have adopted on here.

What a banal opening post!

lljkk Sat 15-Sep-12 17:15:59

Can't be asked to reply to OP.

Does anyone have UK statistics about adopted children, the ages when they leave their bio parent, typically, and age when do they get adopted? I must admit I don't approve of UK system, in that the children spend so long in care typically before being adopted, even if the mother knows before birth that she wants to give up the child for adoption. In US system (much family experience), newborn can live with adoptive parents virtually from birth.

Lilka Sat 15-Sep-12 17:38:27

lljkk - The average age at adoption is 3 years 8/9 months or thereabouts. I believe that's the age when the adoption order is granted though. I'm not sure there are any reliable statistics on how old children are when they go to live with their adoptive parents. I know that the '60 under 1's adopted in 2010' means 60 finalised adoptions of under 1's. Given how many months it can take to finalise (could easily take 5-6 months) I suspect that double that number of under 1's could actually have moved in with their adoptive parents in that year

You can find out how many new care orders were applied for in any given year by SS, but I'm not sure if they keep statistics on the ages of children. Only a small proportion of children in care get adopted though, so not sure that would tell you anything about how old adopted children are when removed from BP's. However, i suspect the majority of adopted children were/are aged 2 or under when removed. Older child adoptions are not common

Very few children are relinquished in the UK. Nearly all are taken away and adopted without the consent of the birth parents. In America foster care adoptions (though much more concurrent planning) are by far the most common kind of adoptions, and the way things work varies enormously from state to state, so you can't generalise anything for the US as a whole. There's an American family on the US based forum I'm on, who have just finalised their son's adoption - 9 years after he moved in as a foster baby. It took that long for their county's foster system to do it. Newborn adoptions are an entirely seperate private system, and there are far far more relinquished babies population percentage wise than in the UK (although there are far less newborn adoptions than foster care adoptions anyway. About 14,000 private infant ones, 50,000 foster care ones at least, maybe more)

Lilka Sat 15-Sep-12 17:41:40

ps. If you want to find the available statistics, look on the ONS website. Search adoption or foster care, they are seperate statistics

auberginesarenottheonlyfruit Sat 15-Sep-12 18:07:08

The following was published in the Telegraph last year. I found similar statistics in the Guardian.

"It is not known exactly how many families in this country go through the agonising process of having to end an adoption. But the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF), estimates that one in five adoptions fall apart before the adoption order is granted, which, if all goes well, happens a year after the child is placed.

Meanwhile the charity Adoption UK estimates that as many as one third of adoptions break down after the adoption order has been granted. Its director, Jonathan Pearce, says, 'Two thirds of adoptive families need significant support to overcome the history of abuse and neglect children bring into their family. Contemporary adoptions are becoming more and more complex; adoptions are at higher levels than they used to be 15 years ago.’ "

I know a couple who recently had a disrupted adoption. They had thought long and hard over many years about adopting, and had been thoroughly vetted. They are everything you would hope adoptive parents to be. But the mother told me, through her heart-rending tears, that they had not been told quite how badly traumatised their children were, or that one of them didn't want to be parented at all and had been assessed as being more suited to fostercare. Tragic all-round.

Lilka Sat 15-Sep-12 18:36:50

aubergine - I am so sorry that happened sad Sadly I am not surprised that the LA hid the assessment, but it makes me so angry when I hear these tales. I hope the couple can find some peace and move forward with their lives after that awful experience and grieving x

Kayano Sat 15-Sep-12 18:39:47

We need a focus on getting the children from neglectful abusive homes out of their quicker sad it makes me so sad that children suffer with all sorts of issues that could have been much less extreme if the children rather than the biological parents had been put first (obv just in some cases)

gringrin at Narked, make me splutter my tea over my laptop keyboard.

Kewcumber Sat 15-Sep-12 18:50:52

aubergine - I think it would be interesting to see the statistics broken down by by age becasue I stongly suspect that disruptions increase based on the age of the child on final removal from birth parents.

In one of the problematic adoptions I know of (not disrupted but one child in secure boarding school) its assessed that the damage occurred probably mainly as a result of the child being abused by birth parents, removed then returned (6 times over a 3 year period). But this was quite some years ago.

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