Can you adopt if you previously had minor mental health issues?(8 Posts)
After finding out me and hubby are infertile we've been discussing adoption. However, I don't think they would consider me as a mum due to my past. In my doctors records it will say I was referred to counselling for a minor alcohol addiction at age 18. Also I have had 2 episodes of being admitted to A&E drunk and a bit disruptive in my early 20's. And the worst one of all is 'attempted suicide' aged approx 22/23. Which I do not even class as such. I took about 10 antidepressants to try and stop a boyfriend from leaving me, I didn't want to die.
I realize this all sounds really bad and I was the type of person they are removing children from. The thing is that that was a person I don't even associate as being me! Today I am a well balanced 34 year old. I have a degree and registered as a health professional. We are home owners and have a good joint income. Will they even take a second look at us or just see my records from a lifetime ago?
I would think, and hope, they would certainly take a very good look at you and take your application very seriously. I would think they would want to know how you deal with stress, disappointment and sadness now and to see that way is healthy. They will want to know your support network and your relationship would be scrutinised you would need a medical and in our LA the GP writes to some medical person who gets a summary of your past medical history and he/she makes a recommendation so it is not up to the GP.
Don't forget a large proportion of the population have MH issues. Good luck
Mental health issues should not be an automatic barrier. Many foster carers and adopters have histories of MH difficulties, and many have physical health issues also. Any physical or MH issues should be looked at
With a prior issue like alcohol addiction, an agency should be looking at:
- How long ago was it? (you need a reasonable distance between alcohol/drug issues and adoption, it seems you have 10+ years which is good)
- Did you seek help with it? (seeking professional help and engaging with medical treatment/counselling is seen as a positive)
- What insight you have into the issues you had? (having insightful into why you may have had these issues etc, is very good)
- What has changed in your life since then?
- How likely are you to have struggles with this again?
With a current/ongoing MH issue like depression (you can adopt if you have had depression, or are currently taking AD's etc):
- Again, they want to know how you manage your own health, whether you have sought treatment?
- How does it affect your life?
- How would it affect your parenting, and how would you manage that? (an issue which might affect your parenting is also not an automatic barrier, for instance people with chronic pain, or who need a wheelchair, can be approved)
- What supports have you got to help you?
Everything should be looked at in the context of you - not about the condition/past issues itself, but how it affects you. Or with a past issue like addiction, how you sought help and what insight you have and whether it is likely to happen again. To refuse you, they should be able to to justify based on current concerns.
Some agencies are more cautious than others, and whilst I hope that any agency would consider you, you may need to contact multiple agencies to find an agency who are positive about what you can offer (which I recommend doing anyway, so you can find the best 'fit' for you in an agency)
Also - welcome to the board I hope you find it helpful and supportive, we'll do our best to answer any questions you have!
Lilka is talking a lot of sense as ever
You may find it reassuring to know that the agency doesn't sit there with full access to all your medical records. You have to attend for a medical with your GP where they fill out a standard form. It's for the GP to decide how to phrase your past experiences and while they will be honest in their assessment it's not quite the same as social workers poring over every A and E attendance.
I can't see from what you've said any reason at all not to give it a go. I had minor depressive episodes and one quite entertaining severe depressive episode following a bereavement - seen by psychiatrist and all - and now have two adopted DCs. And despite some fairly testing times with DC1 my mental health has withstood the challenge!
Re the alcohol I would expect them to ask about your drinking behaviour now and to be clear that you are well past any concerns - adoption is likely to have some pretty stressful moments and turning to drink as a coping mechanism would not be a good plan. As long as you can show that you drink moderately and sensibly these days and don't see it as a way of coping -much- then I think that should be fine.
I barely drink these days due to the sad fact that small children are no respecter of hangovers
Good luck - hope you go for it!
Wow, thanks for the replies. I feel much happier now! I really thought I'd be a write off!
I had been watching all those tv shows that have been on lately and all the adopters seemed like 100% perfect number 1 citizens, if you know what I mean!
I also worry about me and dh's work situation. We both work full time, with me earning more money. We always said that if we had our own baby it might have been him that would give up work to be a full time house husband. How would they look upon that? Do the sw give advice on how money can be managed with a child and things like that? Maybe there are ways of us both being part time to parent more equally that I haven't thought of? But we need to find a way to be the best parents we can whilst still paying the bills. After 8/9 years together I'm used to budgeting with 2 full time incomes, can't imagine getting less money to play with and affording child things!
With regards to my past. Yes its been 10+ years since my last battle with depression. It all coincided mostly with university and leaving home and stresses of exams etc. I think drinking too much actually caused the depressive moods. And yes I used to turn to booze to cope which made for a viscious circle! I don't drink like that now and get horrendous hangovers from 2 glasses of wine! Urgh. I always sought help though and have been to mood management courses and now cope with disappointment in new ways like mindfulness and thought processes. I've turned into a right old hippie :-)
Oh yet another thing that worries me! A support network! Both sets of parents are not terribly local. They are both around an hour's motorway drive so not massively distant but still cannot be called upon in a moments notice. I'm sure if we needed help they could come and stay for a few days and that kind of thing. Our siblings are also an hour's drive.
I wish we still lived in a different decade where the husband went to work and the wife stayed at home and had all the time in the world for children. Life is full of complications these days huh?
Life is very complicated. You are right!
There was someone on my course who had battled with alcoholism 20 years ago - and he and his partner were approved.
Support network is very important - look at your friends as well as family. You do need some close (proximity) people but if your parents are a reasonable distance but would be prepared to come and help if necessary - then that will work. You need to think about who you would call if you were suddenly struck down with e.g. a bad dose of 'flu when you can't get out of bed...would your parents come and stay with you? Who would you call if you felt utterly exhausted and drained and just needed a couple of hours of relief/help?
As for you being the main breadwinner - and your DH being stay at home - that is our plan in 4 or 5 years time. Remember, you can always say what your "intention" was - and that intention might change because of different circumstances. You have to look at what is best for your family - and if that is your DH being the Stay at home parent then that should be fine.
We are talking a year into the future at least though before we would apply to adopt. We still have to grieve for our infertility issues. Things are still very raw and counselling would be good for us. Plus next February/March time I will be going through a massive upheaval at work. We are due to move into a new building and merge with another department. Also they need to discuss staffing levels/grades and hours which may include compulsory evening and/or weekend/bank holiday work! Eeeeeek! How they can put us all through this uncertainty is just not ethical and morale is crap in both departments! So a year or so we will know exactly where our lives are. Not that I'm wishing my life away but roll on normality :-)
Thanks for the advice everyone. I feel much happier that our lives may not have to be childless and empty.
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