Adoption for unusual reasons?

(25 Posts)
BillieKentIsHeavenSent Thu 22-Nov-12 13:57:10

Sorry if this has been asked before. I'm a regular-ish poster, not sure why I wanted to name-change for this, I guess it's quite personal.

I am wondering, would it be considered odd/worrying if a couple wanted to adopt even if there was no physical reason they couldn't have a child of their own? My problem is anxiety/phobia around pregnancy and childbirth - I am really not sure if I can do it, even with a C-section birth and formula feeding (which would be the only options for me). Despite this I badly want to be a mum, and have been thinking more and more about the possibility of adoption lately.

Also when I think about adoption, what I imagine is a slightly older child, maybe 3-5 years old, rather than a baby. I wonder too how this would work - I guess most potential adopters are ideally wanting a baby, so we might have a better chance than some of finding a match, but obviously I can imagine that perhaps an older child is more likely to have issues and difficulty bonding and settling with a new family. I feel like we could cope with those issues, though maybe I'm being hopelessly naive. I know I have a lot to learn.

Any thoughts are welcome, really.

TataClaire Thu 22-Nov-12 14:30:23

You are not alone, my partner and I are also considering adoption for partly the same reasons. I've had a lifetime of dealing with anxiety and a particularly bad phobia and although it doesnt really affect me now, I really have no desire to put my body through the stresses and strain of pregnancy or child birth. On top of this my partner is ten years older than me and would like an older child as he feels he's left it a little late for a baby.
I don't know what adoption agencies would make of us, but we would like a family some day, and this seems to be our only option. We have a lot to offer, but obviously don't know how we would be viewed by those assessing us.

Hopefully someone will provide an answer that will inform both of us!

Lilka Thu 22-Nov-12 17:43:51

Hi and welcome both

It's less common, but there are still plenty of adoptive parents who choose adoption ahead of even trying to have a baby, so you shouldn't be too unusual in that respect

However you come to adoption, they'll be looking for strong and well thought out reasons why adoption, and a strong committment to the process, although there will be a preparation course before you begin assessment, where you can learn more and decide after whether adoption is for you. A phobia of childbirth, although it might influence you a lot, won't be enough on its own to justify adoption to them. It might play a role, but they wouldn't want it to be the main one/s. They will want to see that you understand some ways in which adoption is different to having a birth child and that you don't desire to have a/nother birth child or a genetic connection. I think the biggest reasons anyone will bring for adoption is simply a very strong desire to be a parent, and most adoptive parents who go to adoption first, don't really care about genetic connnections or pregnancy or newborn babies in any big way. You have to be comfortable with not having that. So they need to see that it's not just that you would like a birth child but are phobic about pregnancy/birth (I do understand that that isn't a small thing to have), rather you want an adoptive child

I personally didn't want a baby when I adopted, and I said that from the off. I had a wide age range (3-12 first time, 4-11 second time) but they certainly were very pleased that I wanted older children. There are certainly plenty of children aged 4+ who need homes. It's fine to specify older only, everyone has to analyse themselves and decide on their preferred age range (and gender and special needs and backgrounds and other specifics as well), because they want to match you with the right child for your family, and most importantly make sure you are the right family for the child. I know there are a few families that choose adoption largely because they wanted an older child only and felt far too old for a baby.

All children in care have suffered some trauma, sometimes major trauma, and so they all might show emotional/developmental/educational/behavioural issues in an adoptive family and need extra supports. Although older children have spent more time in care or in dysfunctional situations and so there is a greater potential for issues, IMHO the biggest factors are past experiences and individual personality, not age. It's possible for a baby to be very traumatised and suffer long term problems (it isn't true that young people, purely because of age, can just forget bad experiences and move on) just as it's possible for an older child to have few or no real issues. However older children are more likely to have worse experiences than babies. If you decide adoptoin is the way forwards, there will be time to read and talk more about this and about possible issues and ways people handle them etc and consider what background issues you think you can handle in a child. Many adoptive children have issues - many are mild to moderate and so you have a happy family life with a wonderful child with some extra challenges, a smaller but still quite significant group of chilren have severe problems

Hope that is helpful, sorry for the essay, I never realise how much I'm writing till I finish blush !

KristinaM Thu 22-Nov-12 18:33:15

With regard to the " stresses and strains of pregnancy and childbirth" -I've done both and from my experince ( admittedly a small sample size of 4) I can say that pregnancy and childbirth were a short and easy walk in the park compared with the process of adoption. And I had poor health during pregnancy and difficult births.

And if you feel that your mental or emotional health could not stand teh stress of adoption, it's unlikely you will be able to cope with the assessment alone, let alone teh actual adoption.

That's only comparing the actual process. Obviously you get very different times of children when you adopt rather than give birth . Generally raising adopted children is more stressful and more risky .

I'm sorry if that sounds harsh.its not meant to be . I'm just trying to be realistic. Adoption isn't a less stressful, quicker or easier way of becoming a family. That's why for most people, it's a last and not a first choice.

I wonder if you have considered getting some therapy or counselling for your phobias? C section for psychological rather than physiological reasons are not uncommon and most woemn recover well from a planned section. And while formula feeding put a baby at risk, then pales into insignificance when compared with pre natal exposure to drugs and alcohol, which is the fate of many adoptable children .

monsterchild Thu 22-Nov-12 18:39:41

There shouldn't be any requirement you prove you are not willing/able to have your own child. You just have to show you are a good placement for a child, which you don't have to do to have your own (hence the kids in care).

I agree that adoption is not less stressful, but it is certainly less biological, so if that's the part that worries you, you'll be ok.

And wanting children who are over 5 will give you a leg up in the process.

KristinaM Thu 22-Nov-12 19:27:11

Yy, you will get preference if you want a school aged child or children. But bear in mind that abut half of all placements of over 5s break down, usually because the child is too damaged to cope in a family setting :-(.

KristinaM Thu 22-Nov-12 19:30:30

Sorry, I shoudl have added that a very few of these children will succeed in another type of family placement, ,often with a single parent, or a family with no other children or much older children. However, many of them can only cope in a therapeutic or residential setting

monsterchild Thu 22-Nov-12 20:26:20

Kristina, I beg to differ. I have seen many kids come through some horrific abuse and be quite successful in a family setting. But I do agree it is dependent on the child, and many do require ongoing services, but as long as the family knows what they will be dealing with and don't think kids will "just outgrow" some of their issues, the placement tends to be secure.

I haven't seen any numbers like half of placements breaking down. I'd be interested in where that comes from! I am also in another country, so it could be the difference...

Lilka Thu 22-Nov-12 20:54:28

There is not a great deal of data on disruption, but this subject interests me aa lot and I have read around trying to find research studies and found quite a few, mostly about older children. Disruption seems to average at around 20%. Only about 3 ish I could find reported disruption rates over 40% - of those 1 was looking at children placed for adoption aged 9+, another 1 was children placed at aged 12+. Most of the placements aged from about 5/6 up to 11 years still averaged about 15-20 ish %, some as high as 25%, others 10% or under. Many are American studies, but the children were all in care same as British children. In the UK we have even less but I have not seen anything reporting very high disruption rates. Tghe Hadley report into older child adoption found about a third having serious issues, this is not including disruptions which were a much smaller group

Anyway, this is sidetracking the thread, but I am wary about bandying many numbers around for disruption with little to go on, but I would suggest 20% is reasonable to say with a pinch of salt. Older children only.

Statistics mean a little, but as mum of two 'older children' I am positive about older child adoption. There are challenges and issues involved which are unique. And unique rewards. And all the children are unique. Not for every family, but perfect for some families

KristinaM Thu 22-Nov-12 23:14:03

I agree lilka, it's also complicated by the way in which data is collected. Many studies only look at afoptions which disrupted after placement but before an adoption order is granted. They don't look at those where placement later failed. When these figures are considered together they are obviously much higher. Eg rushton and dance in their 2005 study over 6.5 years showed rates of 20-30% for children aged 7-8 and 40-50% for those aged 9+

I can't find more up to date studies for the UK but have no reason to think that rates have improved.

It may be hard to see th relevance of all this research when you are at an early stage. But I just wanted to make the point that its not as simple as saying " oh we would prefer an older child because we are too old for babies". Both infant and older child adoption carry their own sets of risks.

BillieKentIsHeavenSent Sat 24-Nov-12 12:12:28

Thanks for the replies, good to know it wouldn't automatically be considered a problem. I haven't had counselling for the issues with pregnancy/birth/bf, tbh it's not something I find easy to talk about in real life, especially as I suspect it's linked to abuse I experienced as a young child. No one except DH knows about any of this.

No I certainly don't think adoption is a quick or easy option, not at all, having seen relatives go through it. I am thinking seriously about it though. Even phobias aside I've never felt broody or sentimental about tiny babies or the need to have a biological child that's genetically 'mine'. Also I have a family history of certain problems (autistic spectrum) and definite traits of such myself, so there is a fairly good chance a bio child of mine might have some additional needs anyway.

I'm at an early stage looking at all this, of course, and I can see there's a lot to think about.

KristinaM Sat 24-Nov-12 14:33:37

I'm sorry to near about your experiences billie. I strongly suggest that if you do decide to explore adoption, you get counselling now . There is a good chance that any child you adopt may have been abused and yu may find this impossibly difficult to deal with if you've not had some help youreslf .

FamiliesShareGerms Sun 25-Nov-12 08:33:39

Billie, sorry to hear about your experiences.

I'd say that social workers want you to be clear in your heads, and comfortable with the fact, that by adopting you would be raising children without a biological connection to you. For many people this is a big step, and often they will have some sort of counselling to come to terms with this. generally SW like this, as it provides some reassurance that you're not going to get pregnant half way through the assessment process and that you can genuinely bring up a child who isn't a mini-me.

The majority of adopters have some sort of fertility issue which precludes birth children, but SW will look at each set of circumstances differently during initial assessments. Eg we have a birth son, and I suspect that if we had repeatedly tried we could have had another birth child. But we didn't want to go through any more miscarriages, and had always talked about adoption, which led us to adopting our daughter. Our SW was happy that we had come to terms with not having another biological child.

I would cautiously (because I'm not an expert) recommend counselling before you seriously explore adoption, if only because the preparation process is likely to bring out any unresolved issues you have from childhood. So it's not just about learning how to parent a child who may have suffered abuse, it's also about ensuring you are in a good place yourself, if that makes sense?

I found it impossible to compare pregnancy and adoption preparation- they are such different processes, it's hard to say which was "easier". At least with adoption there was no fiddling with my cervix. But when I was pregnant no one asked us how much sex we had or explored our relationships with our parents smile

Do keep posting with any other questions

hopingtodrive Sun 25-Nov-12 17:05:20

Hi I had a question. I have been following some American bloggers who are adopters and they are very positive about the experience and always encouraging about adoptions.We went to an open day here as I wanted to know a little about if but everyone was so pessimistic.
Is there any difference btw the adoptions/ support here and in the US.

I don't mean to offend anyone but I really don't have any idea about adoptions and just wanted some information.
Thanks

FamiliesShareGerms Sun 25-Nov-12 18:18:37

Others here have more experience, but I think the process is very different here (where voluntarily relinquished children are rare, and adopted children tend to be older and to have had some degree of abusive background) and the US (where it is possible to adopt a newborn, possibly meet the mother a number of times before the birth, children not necessarily subjected to neglect or abuse). So the challenges as an adoptive parent are very different, I think.

I find the US adoption sites interesting in terms of insight into parenting a non-biological child etc, but they don't help with navigating the Uk system or the implications of a system where children are generally older etc when adopted. The BAAF website is a good place to start, and your local authority website should also have a section on it about how their particular process works (eg restrictions on where you live etc)

Personally, I didn't find the approval process positive or negative, it just was what it was. But I am completely positive about adopting our daughter and would always encourage anyone thinking about adoption to explore it thoroughly, even if eventually concluding that it isn't right for them.

Lilka Sun 25-Nov-12 18:19:05

Hi hoping

Well they have one extra kind of adoption than we do here, so it depends what sort of adoption they did. Most adoptions in America are through foster care like here, except you generally have to be a foster carer if you want to adopt a young child, then there are a minority internationally, but there's also private adoptions of infants. Those are very different, both in the process and the children themselves are all very young, a couple of days old. So, if the bloggers adopted infants privately, i don't think there's much you can get from it that is relevent to UK adoptions. On the other hand, there are some great and informative US based bloggers who adopted through foster care, and i read several of those myself. I find them just like adopters in the UK - realistic, and they tell both the positives and the negatives. Make sure you're reading blogs of people who adopted from care, especially children who were not under about 1 years old.

Support will depend largely on where you live, over there as well as here. Different NHS trusts, therapists, CAMHS teams....over there, if you are very rural you would be many many miles from any support services and need lots of time and money indeed, or have to move house

Personally, I am positive about adoption as are most here, but I don't tell people do go this road. I give as much information as I can if asked, and I speak in positive enough terms, but it's not right for everyone so I certainly don't tell people they should adopt. They'll have to decide that for themselves

However, open evenings can be very focussed on the challenges of adoption. There are plenty of rewards and postives as well...and at the end of the day, would I rather be a parent to a challenging/special needs child, or be childless for life? I knew always which way would be better for me. And i am blessed and lucky to have the most wonderful, challenging, beautiful children in my life, and go through sometimes rather big difficulties with them, because being a mum is what I always wanted.

Stick around and read and talk to real adoptive parents. They should be able to give you an honest picture

hopingtodrive Sun 25-Nov-12 18:38:56

Thanks lilka and FamiliesshareGerms

It may be a few years before v decide as we are both in our mid twenties but I just wanted some information as I try to be as prepared for everything I do. I love children but due to fertility issues for both myself and DP it may not happen naturally.
I found th open day very troubling. The answers v got were like they didn't want to be bothered or that we were trying to waste their time which we really weren't. I think I will read back in the adoption pages here

The American bloggers/vloggers I follow have adopted many older children internationally, including sibling groups and children with special needs .

and their children seem very well adjusted despite the very hard life they have had, or it may be that they just highlight the positives, I dnt knw. It was just a such a contrast at the open day. I got the impression that no matter what you do there is no way you can help your adopted childrenbe happy or well adjusted.

Thanks once again. I will read the archives.

FamiliesShareGerms Sun 25-Nov-12 18:53:48

There's a theory, hopingtodrive, that social workers are a bit downbeat at the beginning of the process to help weed out those who aren't really cut out for the challenge of either the assessment process or the potential challenges of parenting an adopted child.... And of course there are good local authorities / SW and bad local authorities / SW

If it's any help, my adopted daughter is an absolute delight, very well adjusted, and has no (known) medical issues. Ridiculously advanced for her age, and beautiful too. She was removed at birth, so although we will no doubt have issues at some point to get through re losing her birth family, she didn't suffer abuse or neglect - and her FC were so good and experienced she had a brilliant start in life. I should say that we know our situation is not normal and we are very lucky, but I think it's important to say that it can happen this way and adoption is certainly not always a gloomy story.

FamiliesShareGerms Sun 25-Nov-12 18:55:07

Sorry, didn't mean to boast! Someone said something to me today about how "you'd never know DD was adopted, she seems so normal", which has obviously hit a nerve...

hopingtodrive Sun 25-Nov-12 23:24:34

Thanks families, your DD sounds lovely. I can't believe how rude some people are.

One of the questions I asked at the open day was completely ignored, made me feel quite dumb, I hope u may be able to give me some insight.

In our birth country you are only allowed to adopt babies, but you have absolutely no chance of ever finding the bio parents or siblings, or know anything about them and babies are usually left outside the orphanage. I wanted to know how difficult it would be for the child to cope with this?

I hope it's not an inappropriate question as I left the open day feeling like I had asked very inappropriate questions and wanted to crawl under a rock.

Also sorry for the thread hijack

Lilka Mon 26-Nov-12 00:33:24

I guess you are thinking about adopting from your birth country then, and I don't think that's an innapropriate or silly quesion in the slightest, I think it's a very good and intelligent question really - all adoptive parents have to talk about adoption with their children and exploring issues around that is really good

I think it would completely depend on the child. Some would grow up and feel ok about that, some would find it extremely difficult and some would have some issues not knowing but it wouldn't dominate their thoughts all the time. I believe the vast majority of adoptees would like some level of information about their background and to know why they were adopted, but how people process that information or lack of it is very individual. I think the adoptive parents being honest and open is always helpful, even if it doesn't change their feelings

I expect the person you asked wasn't prepared for that kind of question, I guess at open evenings they prepare for more predictable and easily answered questions! I am speaking at a prep course very soon, and trying to anticipate the kind of questions I will be asked, and from speaking to others, it seems most attendees ask the same kinds of questions, so I'm preparing for certain ones and hoping I don't get put on the spot by an unusual one! Although it is great to put thought in and ask this kind of thing!!

hopingtodrive Mon 26-Nov-12 01:33:14

Thanks Lilka. Yes that is what I was thinking about. I have researched about the orphanages in my birth country and the directors are very matter of fact about the need to be open and honest with the adopted children. they find the majority of babies in fromt of the orphanage or on garbage heaps or worse, that was something I as an adult found horrifying, I don't know how a child would cope with that.

I appreciate you taking the time to answer me. Thanks

Kewcumber Mon 26-Nov-12 14:33:26

Children cope with it because you help them to is the best answer I can give. And some children cope with it better than others because of their personalities and how long they were institutionalised and how good the institutional care was.

DS was adopted from an institution in Kazakhstan. We have no chance of tracing birth parents and the information we have is not accurate. However he was relinquished rather than abandoned and that may make a small difference. At the moment (he's 7) he doesn't seem to have an unusual degree of difficulty processing his birth but we are at the very early stages of him really understanding it.

As an adult you also need to consider that you weren't party to the decision making at birth so you have no responsibility for it. In other words you can help your child try to process it in the knowledge that someone in the world somewhere was going to have to help them deal with it - it may as well be you!

In our life, we don't really dramatise it. We discuss it in a very matter of fact way. We sometimes talk about why he might have been relinquished as it helps him consider what kind of person his birth mother might be. In many cases babies are abandoned are still "carefully" abandoned ie somewhere they are going to be found quickly. But if they aren't then you will at some point need to have a conversation about why people feel driven to do this. It is the behaviour of a parent who feels desperate and feel they have no other choice.

But yes you are right that it is something you need to think through quite carefully.

hopingtodrive Tue 27-Nov-12 04:30:23

Hi kew,
I am just at the very beginning of thinking about adoption, it seems very complex but I guess you have to start from somewhere so I am asking here and also reading the archives on mumsnet. I am also looking thru some other forums.

The orphanage director I heard speak was very matter of fact about it and said well it is what it is and we deal with it, but the things he was talking about made for very harsh hearing. Bcz I haven't really thought about it before and i really had a very romanticised idea of adoption it seemed very harrowing to me.

I am ashamed to admit that I really thought it was some sort of a fairy tale and after a couple of difficult months you live happily ever after. I have a lot to think about and learn.

hopingtodrive Tue 27-Nov-12 04:31:14

And thanks ever so much for your time.

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