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Thinking about adoption...

(28 Posts)
milkmilklemonade12 Sat 16-Jan-16 21:27:31

Hi everyone,

DH and I were talking recently about looking into adoption. We both said we could see ourselves doing it. I won't bore you all to death with my story, but we have 1 DS who is 5 and we are in our late 30's. We live in Surrey, quite close to London and work as contractors. We currently rent our home, but plan on buying in the next 2 years. My mum is going to move in with us in order to care for our DS when we are at work. School runs, this sort of thing.

We have a good income, and enjoy a nice life. I suppose I just think, we could share this. We are considering expanding our family, but after experiencing a difficult birth and traumatic PND... The whole thing has kind of lost its shine for me, doing it naturally that is. I am frightened of PND again and I am scared of birth again.

I have a lot of love to give. We all do. And I know DS would just make the best big brother.

So here I am. What is the process like and what does it entail? Will they only allow me to match with a child of my own heritage? (I am White British, would they discourage or make difficult a match with a mixed race child, for example?) Would they even consider our family, can people see anything in this above that would put them off us? (Renting, work full time self employed, mum helping out?)

I've already turned an intentionally short thread into a bit of a saga, so I'll leave it there smile thank you for any input you may have thanks

user7755 Sat 16-Jan-16 21:38:07

Am sure that someone with more recent experience will be along soon, but my thoughts.

Renting, no issue.
Working full time - might be an issue because of attachment.
Mum helping out - I think you need to have a clear plan about how the child knows that you are mum (if that makes sense?) - if you go for it PM me and I will tell you how we managed with adult DSD at home
PND - there is still a risk of depression and anxiety, post adoption. Although obviously there isn't the hormonal element.

The fact that you have family support could be a huge help - is your mum supportive of adoption?
The fact that you are already a mum, and your son is 5 is a plus point.
The fact that you have a lot of love to give is massive!

When we adopted they were very clear that we would be matched according to ethnicity - not sure if that has changed?

Adoption is very challenging, its parenting and then some. Supporting traumatised kids is hard work but the rewards are massive.

My advice is always, go into it with your eyes wide open but if you think it is the right thing for you all, do it - it was the best decision we ever made. Keep us up to date with your plans

(oops nearly put an x there, flowers

milkmilklemonade12 Sat 16-Jan-16 21:49:37

Yes the working full time I did think might be an issue... But then food has to be put on the table. I would undoubtedly take a couple of months' leave to get settled in.

DH and I have talked about raising a disabled child, and we have decided it is (unfortunately) beyond our limits. DH grew up with a (severely) disabled sister and so knows the difficulties.

My mum would be home full time when we are working, and yes I suppose you'd have to ensure the child knew who was mum; although you could possibly have that issue with a child you gave birth to in that arrangement?

I don't know what age group is best, people tend to prefer younger but I'm not sure. I do worry an older child may have problems we wouldn't know how to adequately deal with; issues with past neglect etc. I'm not sure.

It feels like such a massive step; it is of course, but strangely... I can relate to it more than pregnancy and birth again. I'm not sure why.

Thank you thanks

user7755 Sat 16-Jan-16 21:59:07

I can understand your last sentence completely, i always felt that adoption was for me so when I married dh who I already know had fertility issues (long story) it wasn't an issue at all.

I think they would want there to be about 3 years between your ds and a new child so that they were at very different stages and therefore not 'competing'.

Re: disabled child. When we adopted (11 years ago), the SW came with a list of issues which we had to discuss and tick yes, no or maybe. It's really important to be honest and on the same page as your partner.

In terms of attachment, even a 'baby' will have known at least 2 'mums' so they may 'attach' to people in an inappropriate way, which can cause issues later on. Perhaps you could chat about part time work or flexible working, especially in the early days to help the child attach securely.

Ours were 5 months and 11 months when we adopted (brothers adopted within 6 months of each other), I wanted to have a family where we could all grow together but the reality of this is that we waited longer to be matched. Was worth it though!

firefly78 Sat 16-Jan-16 22:01:15

there are currently very few children being placed for adoption. adopters are often waiting 1 to 2 years.

Tamponlady Sat 16-Jan-16 22:39:14

Hi I am a former foster carer and also BP

I think the issue here may be your mum moving in full time
Sw may want to look deeper into you under standing of attachment and how that my effect a child if they are being looked after by someone else be it your mother also they will ask the question

What will happen if the child cannot cope with you being at work or your mother cannot cope with a child who has suffered trauma and neglect or abuse.

Not trying to scare you but I know very few adopters who have managed to stay working full time if one of the parents are not pt or stay at home already

Most sw will be looking for the full year off

Also in terms of adopting a mixed child

What exprince do you have of Diffrent cltures

What's your understanding of white privaillage

Is were you live diverse

Is your friendship and family network diverse

How will you feel about people's views and assumptions about you if you have a mixed child

And how can you give a mixed child the self confidence to live in a family that looks nothing like than and we're is obvious to everyone they meet that they are adopted.

And have you considered that having a mixed child may uncover amoungst your family and friends views that may lead you to end your relationships


Not trying to be mean but things to think about

Also your adopted. Hold has to be 2 years younger that birth child so you would be looking at age0-3

Italiangreyhound Sun 17-Jan-16 01:23:00

I agree with Tamponlady that there may be some issues around your mum providing lots of childcare for you both while you are working.

Re My mum would be home full time when we are working, and yes I suppose you'd have to ensure the child knew who was mum; although you could possibly have that issue with a child you gave birth to in that arrangement?

With a birth child you might have that issue but a birth child would hopefully not have any confusion initially about who is mum. A child who joins your family by adoption will have a birth mum (and dad, although they may or may not have lived for long with both parents, they may have done), they will have had a foster family (potentially more than one) and then will move in with a new mum and dad. So it would be very understandable if there was confusion. 'Mum' will be easiest to identify by the care she gives, if another woman is giving that day to day care, especially early on, I think it could be difficult.

Usually the parent/s are expected to do everything for their new child initially, it is called funnelling. At the very least I expect your mum would need to be accessed if she were part of the process, if she will be living in your home.

This makes interesting reading...

www.theguardian.com/society/2011/jan/06/adoption-diary-building-attachment-first-step

tldr Sun 17-Jan-16 01:34:13

I would undoubtedly take a couple of months' leave to get settled in

You need to do some reading. Read threads here, try the Adoption UK website, try these orgs; www.mumsnet.com/Talk/adoptions/2546176-Signposting-to-reputable-expert-organisations

Adoptive parenting is not parenting without the hard newborn bits. It's not for the faint hearted, and it's not for outsourcing to mum. (Except sometimes, when that's probably fine, but mostly it's not.)

Italiangreyhound Sun 17-Jan-16 01:46:49

In answer to the rest of your questions....

So here I am. What is the process like and what does it entail?

The process is a series of visits to your home 9called home study) which begins and end usually with a course at your adoption agency offices (or maybe another location). For us this was an initial half day on 'loss' (our loss at not having a birth child/another birth child, and the child's loss at the loss of their birth their family etc), and then a prep course at the start and a parenting course at the end. The assessment stage before the parenting course, for us, lasted about 1 year to get to approval.

Then after that it was about 5 months to being matched and another 3 months before our son came to live with us (20 months), I think that is fairly fast, the fastest I know in real life (not things read on here or elsewhere) is one year from initial meeting to children coming to live in new family. This was my friend who did not have any birth children and I do think maybe having a birth child/ren adds a little in terms of time because your child is consulted and, of course, your existing child's needs will be taken into consideration.

The longest I've known in real is over two and a half years.

Re Will they only allow me to match with a child of my own heritage? (I am White British, would they discourage or make difficult a match with a mixed race child, for example?)

As far as I am aware you could adopt a child from a different heritage to yourself, but usually social services like there to be a link to the heritage of the child, and so if people of a suitable similar heritage to any children are available they would probably get priority if the social workers felt they could meet the child's needs.

I had always imagined we may adopt a child of a different heritage to us because I had lived abroad and we had considered adopting abroad. in the end we adopted domestically and have a child by adoption who is the same ethnicity as us. It also depends where you are, geographically, most children in the care system are white British and in some areas (such as mine) the vast majority of local children were the same heritage as me. But if you are in a very urban area then this may be different.

Renting is not an issue.

Good luck. Ask more if you think of things to ask.

milkmilklemonade12 Sun 17-Jan-16 03:31:35

Absolutely not trying to outsource to mum... Simply saying that as she looks after my existing son around school time, she would probably do the same for another child, and it looks like it could be an issue...

Unfortunately we have to work and there is no way around this, and doesn't look like there will be in the near future short of some kind of lottery win. Hmm. I didn't think it would be an problem but perhaps it is. Still, I'd rather know now. So it seems like I'd need to be a SAHP; which unfortunately isn't an option open to us sad

We really are just poking around at this stage and seeing if it's for us. Thank you for all the info/reading material and I appreciate the realism. thanks

MrsH1989 Sun 17-Jan-16 07:45:22

You don't need to be a sahm but you will have to take adoption leave just like you would take maternity. We have said that unless DH gets a pay rise, I will only be able to take 9 months off leave, they were a bit put out like you but I did say going part time when returning was an option. Your mum caring for the child is only an issue if she is doing it early on in the placement. If you were to hold off moving her in until a month or so before you returned to work then it would be less of a issue but in this instance I think you would have to take over care the minute you got home to enforce the message of who is mum here. Your mum reinforcing this when you are not home would help "mummy is coming home soon" but I think if you do some reading and put a plan in place then they will be more accepting of the arrangements.

tldr Sun 17-Jan-16 08:39:40

You don't need to be SAHP, but you would need more than a couple of months leave, firstly because SS expect it and more importantly because your LO would need it. Even if they are very young, they are likely to have had at least two moves/changes of primary carer.

Adoption leave is similar to mat leave; entitled to a year off and pays some money.

Beyond that, what any adopted child can/can't handle is massively variable. One of mine could absolutely handle school then after school club or childcare; other one absolutely could not, needs after school time clinging to with me.

What I'm saying is don't assume you can fit an adopted child in with your current life like you might with a new baby. Adopted children generally need to be parented differently.

tldr Sun 17-Jan-16 08:42:30

It's also amazing and I feel privileged every single day that I get to raise my DC so don't be put off, just be a bit real.

Kewcumber Sun 17-Jan-16 11:52:44

What everyone else said really and an additional caution.

I had to give up work for a while as DS really needed me to be around and it wasn;t in the first few months but a few years later - your child might continue to have issues which make it tricky for both of you to work full time. DS could definitely not have coped with after school club when he started (and only occasionally rather than as a standard even today)

Also - say you would take 3/6/9 month off instead of 12 might not necessarily stop you getting approved but in the days of more adoptive parents than possible children you may be looked on less favorably by the childs social worker.

I know all children are different but I can;t imagine any child being able to cope with another significant adult caring for them as soon as 2/3 months after placement. . You might be lucky but you would be unlikley to be allowed to plan for that. I was back at work part-time after 4 months and in hind sight it was a big mistake.

milkmilklemonade12 Sun 17-Jan-16 14:13:40

Oh no no! I would take adoption leave! Sorry, did I not mention earlier?

No, I would take as much adoption leave as I would materntiy initially? Maybe longer, I haven't thought too much but tbh I think that's a given really that you have to. 12 months would take a bit more planning but it could be done. As when you think about it if anything at all went wrong with a birth by me, I'd have to take 12 months and that'd be just that really.

I would go back but potentially drop down to 4 days a week, although that doesn't really count as part time.

milkmilklemonade12 Sun 17-Jan-16 14:34:41

As I say at the moment this is the first stage of asking questions and exploring really; realistically we could be 3-4 years off actually getting there. We said we'd spend this year researching it and finding out if it's the right thing for us. I still think it could be, I really do.

dibly Sun 17-Jan-16 14:35:48

I agree that you'd have to be seen as the main Carer and do all care after work (once you'd returned after adoption leave) however if your mum was really on board with adoption, then it could be considered a real plus to have her provide child care and give added stability My mum has been heavily involved, and it's helped my attachment to our LO to grow.

Italiangreyhound Sun 17-Jan-16 18:13:12

Agree with everyone else.

I am not a stay at home mum, I work part-time. Our son came to us at 3, almost 4, and I had almost exactly a year off work before going back on reduced part-time hours (equivalent to three days a week but spread out so that I can drop off and pick up each day).

My son has been here about 20 months and is still fairly clingy but Granddad and Grandma do look after him for bits of time, and have done so for short amounts since early on.

milkmilklemonade12 Sun 17-Jan-16 19:21:16

My mum is like a second mum to our son. She is an intrinsic part of our lives and she will live with us forever, and we are going to build her an annexe so she'll always be near us.

She is so, so helpful and I cannot sing her praises highly enough. She is essentially our wrap around care and she and DS have a beautiful relationship. She's not his mum and it's always 'mummy best' because he is a real mummy's boy, but he would HATE after school club; he needs to be looked after in his own home with one to one care. I feel personally, it's best for all children ideally.

She loves to take DS out to the park, she took him ice skating and to the theatre at Christmas too... She says her only sadness is he's growing up, and she said she'd love to see us bring another child home, be it from us or from a birth mum. She's 100% on board.

I can see a year off would definitely be preferable, and we could bring forward building an annexe so mum wouldn't actually be 'there' in the early days so to speak. There's a lady at work who is coming back and has dropped down to 4 days a week, so I know that wouldn't be an issue, so that's good. Potentially, with a few more years under my belt, I could switch to another company for a little more money and drop down to 3 days, as I'd have more years' experience by then; DH mentioned that today. So PT could be done I think.

Italiangreyhound Sun 17-Jan-16 20:24:42

milkmilklemonade12 I think it may be helpful for you to talk to social services in very general terms about things. I am not sure what would work better, the idea that you had thought it all out and had the answers (looks good in terms of general planning etc) or the fact you would be asking them for advice etc.

I think you do need to factor in the kind of backgrounds children have come through the care system with and also the issues around attachment.

This is different from birth children, and I think you will need to demonstrate that you do understand this. Your new child will already have another mum, possibly two 'mum' figures, before factoring in you and your own mum. so even how you talk about the arrangement may have some bearing because it might be confusing for the child.

Your views about what is best for your son are of course totally valid for your own child and may well be best for the new child too, but of course when the knew one comes it won't be one to one care, it'll be two to one, so your mum will be doing more.

If you mum already lives in the home when you are accessed or if it is already the plan she will be a big part of the new child's life she may also need to be assessed. It is brilliant she is on board and she may be able to access training etc so she knows some of the potential issues. I've not heard of this before so I may be wrong and others may be better able to advise.

I think the reason (maybe) that posters have mentioned adoption leave is because one of your posts said I would undoubtedly take a couple of months' leave to get settled in. Where are social services talk in terms of a year of adoption leave. I had almost a year with ds (adopted) but only about 8 months with dd (birth child), so I do think it is useful to think in terms of how some things will be different.

Tamponlady Sun 17-Jan-16 21:30:31

Also you will need to have a plan of what will happen if your mum is unable to deal with the challenge of a looked after child or your child cannot cope with out you

What then the whole reason why she will believing with you is to help with the children

ChristineDePisan Mon 18-Jan-16 23:43:51

Hello! You've had some good advice on here already, but just a couple of thoughts from me:

You need to think through the impact of adopting on your birth child. Both because you will need to show the SW that you have done so, but also because you really need to be sure it is the right thing for your whole family. The SW will not put your DS high up their priority list (their goal is to place the looked after child in their care), and although they will want to make sure that there is a good fit, you will need to look out for DS throughout the process (and beyond).

Two things in your OP slightly alarmed me: 1) you said that you thought 1:1 care was best; and 2) your mum being a second mum to your son. On 1), with another child this will be 2:1 care. And sometimes the other child will frankly hog all your mum's attention, perhaps even more so as an adopted child (attachment issues can often manifest themselves in ways which demand being the centre of attention).

On 2), there is no space for a second mum in your relationship with an adopted child, in the early days at least (and by days, I mean months). DD's FC were much older, and we realized after a little while that DD had attached to my parents as a replacement for them and was looking at me almost like a favoured aunt rather than a mother, so we had to backtrack a little. Don't get me wrong - she and I had an almost instant bond, and continue to enjoy a secure attachment, but it took some conscious effort to move it to a maternal relationship.

You might find that DS is intensely jealous of a new sibling, particularly if he has to go to boring school while they get to play with your mum all day, and then when he gets home she is still giving most of her attention to this new small person who has suddenly turned up. And of course this might happen with a birth sibling too, but one of the great things about newborns is that they do tend to sleep and look cute and enjoy cuddles with their big brother (not all, but lots do!), whereas an adopted sibling will almost certainly be closer to a toddler than a baby and can break his toys, hit / bite / scratch him, and stay up longer than him. It's a really really hard adjustment for a little boy to make.

I don't want to sound negative: we have a birth son and an adopted daughter, and they are fiercely loving and protective of each other and it was definitely the right decision for us to complete our family in this way. But it's not without complications (at all!) and I wish I had known more about the things to consider along the way - I think that adoption post-birth child is becoming far more common, it seemed very rare indeed back when we adopted, so perhaps there wasn't the same knowledge about it as there is now. And of course I only discovered MN when I was on adoption leave shock

anyway, do stick around on the adoption board as you think about whether it is right for you, and happy to answer any specific Qs you have, either on the thread or via PM

Italiangreyhound Tue 19-Jan-16 00:53:13

Totally agree with ChristineDePisan. I have a birth dd and an adopted son with (I think) a similar age gap to 'ChristineDePisan''s children (possibly slightly larger gap).

Our honeymoon period with new son was literally one day before things went rapidly down hill! DD and DS met and had a week where they got to know each other. DD said on meeting him it was 'the happiest day' of her life!

Sadly, this did not last when he wanted to sit in her chair, wear her apron and use her spoon!

Knowing what I know now I would say to be very careful about passing on items from one to the other, at least in the early days. Having a son and daughter they do not really share clothes but we did attempt to 'hand-me-down' other items and this led to quite a lot of angst of 'he's got my stuff' from dd. Knowing what I know now I would be cautious about this stuff, which one would not think about birth siblings.

Now my daughter and son do get on well and love each other but I still feel I am more vigilante in terms of their relationship (not allowing arguments to go too far, stepping in etc) and I do think this is something I had probably not anticipated.

milkmilklemonade12 Tue 19-Jan-16 01:06:26

This is all such useful information, thank you thanks

It's good to get honest feedback; I'd rather know now and have a plan in place or a work around ready, than be shocked by it!

Italiangreyhound Tue 19-Jan-16 01:22:40

Milk it is good you are taking it all in. It is a massive learning curve. I really did not expect quite so many things to be so specific to adoption and my son really does not 'look' as if he is adopted. Tons of our friends through church and I think some through school do not know he joined us by adoption. By this I mean he does not stand out. But I as a mum know his behaviour is a bot more 'dramatic' than other kids and also that we always wonder with some behaviour whether it has a basis in adoption/birth family (it mat not!).

Is your dh on the same page as you?

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