Is it always really hard?

(24 Posts)
NotSureBitScared Thu 29-May-14 20:57:48

DH and I are just starting stage 1.
We've been so excited for so long about this but now the more I read the more I worry.
I've just read 'No Matter What' by Sally Donovan, and a few threads on here and other sites and wonder if we can actually handle the reality of adoption.
Is there always going to be violence, anger, accusations, distress etc to the extent that these threads and books show or do some (most?) adopters just have a normal - while diffeently parented - family?
I'm not saying we couldn't handle it, I'm more just wondering is it an absolute given? Something we should prepare for as more likely than not?

I'm sorry if this seems crass or belittling - I really don't mean it to.
I just wonder do any adoption families ever end up just being boringly happily non-dramatic 'normal'?

excitedmtb Thu 29-May-14 21:20:50

Hey, I have to be honest, I cannot answer this question as we are only just about to start introductions in the next few weeks. What I can say is that, shortly after embarking on this journey, I started reading up on attachment issues and 'googling' adoption. This resulted in me really scaring myself and wondering if I could cope and if I even wanted to have to cope. But we attended pre adoption course and kept gathering information in the knowledge that, if we didnt feel it was right for us, we could walk away. I am glad now that I didnt allow myself to be scared off. But you have to do what is right for you.
Happy families are never certain - whether it be through adoption or a birth child.

GrimbleGrumble Thu 29-May-14 21:23:28

There are probably as many answers to your question as there are families and so much depends on the child's experiences, needs, age at adoption etc. I think the preparation/assessment process often focuses on the hard stuff and of course often adopters post on support boards when things are tough going and we need support. It is really important to be aware of the potential issues as things are bound to come up at some point for the child(ren) and for you. We had a very hard few months at the beginning but now, 2 years in, I don't think things are any more difficult at the moment than for people I know with similar age kids and mostly it is just lovely family life - boring and non-dramatic. Having said that, DD is only 4 and so we may well have the tough bits to come as she develops more of an understanding of what has happened to her and I am sure there will be lots of ups and downs. Good luck with your assessment.

MooseyMouse Thu 29-May-14 21:28:45

We're a year in with a delightful little boy of two. I know some problems might come up further down the line but so far it's fine.

I think it's a case of deciding which issues you would and would not be prepared to deal with (obviously there are no guarantees for the long term). For example, our little boy's speech is delayed but they think he'll speak perfectly in the end. So we toddle off to speech therapy and play talking games. He's learning to sign and we're all having a lovely time. No big deal.

We said we'd consider a child with some illnesses or some life experiences. But we said no to lots of other thing. You can say no to anything you can't deal with and weigh up which risks you're willing to take.

I know exactly what you're feeling. Stay away from scary message boards (not this one!) which are dominated by a few posters who have had horrendous experiences. Get to know lots of real adopters with real kids. Most are very happy.

prumarth Thu 29-May-14 21:30:51

Hi, like excited, I haven't yet adopted but our intros are imminent. But I agree, research in the early days can scare the socks off you. However as you progress, you will talk through your fears with your SW and learn what you can and can't cope with. Whenever things scared me too much, I would read some of the threads here and while some issues are obviously painful, the utter love and joy becomes apparent too. I'm sure more experienced adopters will be along soon to offer you a view from the other side of the process - and best of luck to you on your journey.

Hels20 Thu 29-May-14 21:47:12

No - 7 months in and I feel as though we have had an easy journey.

I adore our DS who has just turned 3. He is very loveable and v loving and - although we started v slowly and barely introduced him to anyone in first 3 months - the other day I was hanging out with my 2 BFF and their 6 kids between them and I didn't see him for 3 hours because he was having so much fun playing hide and seek, doctors and nurses, playing on the swing and slide. I couldn't believe that it was the sort of Sunday I would have spent in my own childhood. He didn't want to leave my friend's house at the end of the afternoon!

So I think we have a pretty normal family life and the issues I have I don't think are any worse than other children his age (he hates the word "no" and will have a tantrum if I tell
him he can't have more chocolate!).

I hope I will still be saying the same in 5, 10 and 15 years time.

One thing I would say - we didn't rush a match. I read a lot of profiles but none seemed right and then with my DS nothing seemed wrong so with a huge leap of faith we dived right in.

RhinosAreFatUnicorns Thu 29-May-14 21:49:30

DD has been with us two years and is now three. I sometimes feel like a bit of a fraud on the adoption boards as we have a relatively problem free family life, although certainly not boring grin We were pretty sure about what we could cope with, and as such, DD has no major difficulties. We have our moments but it is manageable often with wine!!

My advice is that you have to be very honest with your SW about what you feel you could deal with and what you couldn't. We said no to many things on the list - very hard, very guilt ridden at the time, but it would have been unfair on a child and us to have done otherwise.

I scared myself with all the reading I did, and the training we went on. We haven't faced anything that we can't cope with. Who knows what the future holds, but you know what? We will cope because she is our daughter and we adore her.

My very honest opinion, is that I am pleased I couldn't have a BC, because then we wouldn't have DD. I wouldn't change a thing smile

Lilka Thu 29-May-14 21:53:21

Forgive me the long post please!

First of all - being a bit scared is really normal. One of the things that makes the adoption process so different to having a birth child, is the way you talk about potential issues and problems from the very off. Yes, it is more likely that a child who has been traumatised and in the care system, will have some additional needs or issues, but they really make you consider this from the off, and when you're talking about abstract, theoretical children, it can be really daunting. And even though i don't generally compare adoption and the 'standard' route to having children, but I can't help wondering how many birth parents would have been daunted if it was required before conception to attend workshops which explained in detail how many children have various disabilities and special needs. Whereas in adoption, as part of preparing people, they really do shove you in the deep end and make you think about it straight away, and that's an experience!!

I can speak anecdotally, and say that of the families I know, the biggest group of families by far, are those whose children do have some additional issues - not necessarily diagnosed special needs, but perhaps their kids have insecurities, milder issues with attachment and trust, or they need some extra support in school, or they have some social delay, or act younger than their age, etc, or some combination of that. Or perhaps it is diagnosed special needs. But what these families have in common, is that they are strong families with much happiness! Yes, sometimes they need to parent their children a little differently, or may need to access a bit of support, and so it's not always the same as if they had birth kids. But everyone is used to that, that's life, and there are no serious problems.

And of course there are some families whose children seem to have very few or no issues at all, which is great! So yes it can happen

There are also families who have more serious issues, which means parenting a lot differently and accessing support and going through a lot of struggles. BUT, that doesn't have to be hell, and by thinking about it in the abstract and not seeing these families, is you miss the unconditional love, and fact that they are indeed a family and you don't see the good days or the progress children can make.

There's just no way of guarunteeing or knowing exactly how things will pan out, and it's the uncertainty which is difficult

If I speak for me....I have one child who has some issues based on his past, but for the most part, I don't parent him significantly differenty than I would parent a birth child. And two children, one still at home, who have had much more significant issues. But with all my kids...parenting differently, just becomes the way of life. I love them utterly unconditionally, and I take such pride and joy in their progresses and achievements. Yes, sometimes it's been very very hard, and i can't deny or downplay that, BUT i have never regretted adopting them, because they are my beloved children, I would not be without them for the world, despite the difficult things. And that's what you miss when you talk in the abstract. Also, there are good days and joyfull moments going on all the time, whether big things or little things. I've had a tough, but utterly 100% worth it ride.

I think it's wise to prepare for additional issues. I really don't think it's good to be scared into assuming you're always going to be miserable or regretting it, because that's not the reality for the vast majority of people.

prumarth Thu 29-May-14 21:56:54

Aw, Lilka, what a lovely post. I feel a tear coming on!

Devora Thu 29-May-14 21:58:58

I'm 4 years in. At times it has been hard (I'm finding it hard right now). But there's been really tough times with my birth child as well. Both my girls are very high maintenance, very demanding, often challenging. But it certainly isn't anywhere near like the daily nightmare that you sometimes hear described. My girls are very well behaved at school; they are very loving and funny and bright. My adopted child definitely has issues and they may get more challenging as she grows up. But she is also a delight.

I guess what you're asking is what I used to wonder: can I dare to dream of normal family life with an adopted child? And the answer is: yes, so long as you don't have too narrow a view of what 'normal' can be.

Devora Thu 29-May-14 22:00:47

Oh, and what Lilka said! I absolutely don't see myself as engaging in FT psychotherapeutic caring. I love my kids to bits and we are a happy family.

excitedmamma Thu 29-May-14 22:11:53

Another 'fraud' here...

Some health issues, some uncertainties about her future health but so far (been here 2 years) very very "normal".

Lilka Thu 29-May-14 22:38:29

You see, with "can I dare to dream of normal family life with an adopted child? And the answer is: yes, so long as you don't have too narrow a view of what 'normal' can be" Devora managed to totally sum up what I wanted to get across!

I also wanted to make it clear that life and parenting can be happy and positive when you have children who happen to have additional or special needs, whether those needs are born-with, or happened because of trauma or whatever.

The rest of you guys - STOP calling yourself frauds

We can't have this idea in words that being a proper adopter means dealing with some form of additional needs, or that it's a less valid and real experience to put across if your child has not been very affected by their past. It's just as valid, just as real, and gives you just as much right to call yourself an experienced adoptive parent when you're sitting happily years down the line smile

NotSureBitScared Thu 29-May-14 22:55:17

Oh my goodness!
I namechanged for this because I thought it was a crass question and I would come back to the board tomorrow to maybe one answer.

Thank you all so much for your amazing answers.
Thank you Lilka for a tear-inducing post.

It's wonderful to have such support and such honesty.

Please keep posting your experiences.
I'm going to come back as my 'real' posting name to add to this in a year's time, saying how right I was to worry but how wrong I was to 'worry'.

There is a gaping hole in mine and DH's lives and if it is filled by caring for and loving a child - with additional needs - I know I will find the support I need right here.
Thank you.

Kewcumber Thu 29-May-14 23:55:59

It's not a crass question at all. I suspect most of us didn't go into adoption because we wanted to be "carers" but because we wanted a family. And I know I was nervous about becoming some kind of carer rather than a mother.

And even a couple of years ago I would have called myself a fraud too (Hah! So don't get too smug all you fraudsters with children under 6!) as DS had a few issues which could be hard to deal with at times - difficulty bonding then terrible separation anxiety, eating until he was sick for months but really nothing too difficult. But the last year has flushed out some problems that I have suspected were lurking for some time and he is currently really struggling with school, anxiety and self esteem issues.

But you know it still feels pretty normal to me. Its really just what Devora said - it just depends on what your definition of normal is. DS doesn't do anything other children might not do from time to time, its just he does it more often and for different reasons and to a different degree to other children and coping strategies which might work for others just make him worse so I've had to think that through a bit more.

It has made me a more thoughtful parent than I might otherwise have been I think (at least I hope) though that is a bit of a work in progress!

But life is normal (at least my brave new world kinda normal) and he loves me devotedly just as much as I love him and I wouldn't swap him with all his foibles for any plain vanilla kid I was offered. He has guts and oomph and pzazz and makes my rather dull accountant-like world a much more exciting place. I can't believe I would have given birth to a child like him in a million years unless I'd married PT Barnum so for that I have to be grateful!

We are only a few weeks in so I AM A FRAUD! But I will say that ds has issues, I can see them but I can also start to see ways in which I can try and help him resolve them.

Like all kids things will emerge as they get older and you start to think where does that come from. With a child who joins your family by adoption you may feel like you do know (because you get information etc at the start) or that you do not because they (social workers/foster carers etc) will never know exactly all that has gone on.

Also, with birth kids they can have 'issues' and you have no idea where that comes from.

My ds has the most amazing little face, he is adorable. I know all mums say that. I think learning to love them whether quickly or slowly, building a life, building little rituals together, as you do that you see the normality. He is a delight, he is not always easy and I know he could be a thousand times harder to parent, but slowly slowly he is becoming mine and I am becoming his and maybe for all parents a lot of it is really hard, it is also really easy sometimes and sometimes just really bog standard - serving up meals that don't get eaten properly, listening to jokes about poo (Mummy this is a bottle of poo - DD with hand over the Sham bit of the shampoo bottle), what I think it does have in common with all parenting is that it is intense and it is for life.

Is it always really hard? - I don't know, I am less than a month in, ask me later!

Bless you, hope you find your answers.

Hels20 Fri 30-May-14 03:44:32

Ha ha ha, Italian. I have lived on this earth for nearly 40 years and never seen how wonderful the shampoo bottle joke is!! Never thought of it!!

It is 3.30am and DH is away and I had to leave DS for 3 hours yesterday with a friend - the first time he has been left (knowingly) with anyone other than me, DH or my Mum, and he has just climbed into my bed and fallen asleep!! He never does this! But I think it is normal!!

CateBlanket Fri 30-May-14 05:15:33

I just wonder do any adoption families ever end up just being boringly happily non-dramatic 'normal'?

Yes - 8 years in and so far, so wonderful. I often look at families with biological children and think "thank Christ we adopted" smile

odyssey2001 Fri 30-May-14 08:49:16

Quite simply you need to be prepared for this. All of those things you list could happen. But will they happen? That is a sliding scale of probability depending on what you are prepared to accept. If you accept a child with severe disorganised attachment issues or who had been physically abused or sexually abused or passed from home to home, all of these things become more likely. Also the age of the child may affect the things toy describe as older children may come with more baggage.

But will it happen? Who knows! Children are not a science. You just have to have a tiny place in your mind where you have accepted that it is a possibility you will experience a worse case scenario.

Floraclare Fri 30-May-14 10:11:26

We're about 14-months in with a little boy who has just turned 3 - and it had mostly been great. He had some fairly significant developmental delay in his first year and a fairly complicated birth family background, which included both mental health and learning difficulties - and this resulted in him being very hard to place even though he had been removed at birth and only had one placement with a fantastic foster family.

On paper, he was incredibly complicated and we had to accept many uncertainties about his future, but in reality he is a beautiful and happy little boy. He constantly amazes me at how well he is doing - he is now developmentally age appropriate, is very chatty and pretty much conversational and we just potty trained him in less than a week and he is now also dry at night. He has also settled really well into a few mornings at nursery and plays really well with othet children. I'm under no illusion that the future will be problem free and I will keep my eyes open for any possible issues when he starts school - however, adoption has so far been a wonderful experience and he is a very loved little boy.

The one thing I would say is that adoption can be a bit of a lottery - our matching criteria was fairly wide, but we have (so far) not experienced many problems. Whereas I know of people with much tighter matching criteria who were matched with easy to place children, who are having a much harder time

2old2beamum Fri 30-May-14 12:23:50

We are 33, 29, 25, 10 and 5 years in. It has been a fantastic journey, totally different from our -boring same age old- friends. We are an "odd" family but we all love and care for each other. We have had some hilarious times and some very sad times (3 other LO's have sadly died)

We have been so lucky but as said above it is a lottery but it is worth it.

Best wishes

FamiliesShareGerms Sun 01-Jun-14 11:29:40

We are very normal and dull smile

DD had issues around being in control - we know this now and have worked out what this means in parenting terms (eg she has to be given an "out" in an argument, otherwise she will just never ever give up). But I don't think it is seriously different from many other non-adopted children - I know I can be pretty stubborn too

Sharon09108 Mon 02-Jun-14 21:47:28

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Kewcumber Mon 02-Jun-14 21:48:10

Shove off Sharon - you're really annoying me....

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