Questions for experienced adopters, please

(39 Posts)

Hi all, a few quick questions, please....

1) Is it normal/appropriate to buy a small gift or flowers for our social worker. She is only taking us as far as panel and not taking us on to matching?

2) When you start matching process do they normally suggest one child at a time? 3) How much info do you get on a child? 4) How long do you get to decided?

5) Are holidays with your new child appropriate in the first year?

6) If a child is placed with you can you have a holiday abroad before the child is finally declared your adopted child? 7) Might it depend where you go, e.g. close by overseas, France/Ireland where ever or far away overseas?

OK enough questions, would welcome any answers here or by private message, please.

Thanks.

Lilka Sat 17-Aug-13 12:11:12

1) I think a small gift or flowers would be nice and appreciated

2) Depends on how you and your social worker decide to do it. Some would bring you several profiles at once and then you can ask to see the CPR of any you are particularly interested in. Other workers might prefer to only show you one profile or CPR at a time. So basically they select the child they think is the best match for you before approaching you. Mine showed me multiple profiles/several form E's at once but told me which ones she thought were the most likely potential matches. She was right. I did it that way because I wanted to be proactive and see all the potential matches myself but many prefer to let the sw do the initial selecting.

3) all the profiles I've seen have been a few hundred words, and the form E's (old name for a CPR) were much longer and had a great deal of information in them. The profiles are only an initial introduction to the child so you can decide whether or not you want to see the CPR but the CPR itself should give you enough information to know whether or not you want to adopt this child. It should have a lot on the child background, experiences, development, behaviour, medical etc.

4) you should get as long as you need, I took a good 2 weeks with DD2' s form E before I said I wanted to proceed and adopt her. But I had a great deal to consider because she had many needs, some people don't even need an hour before they know they've found their child.

5) Depends very on the child and how you're all doing. I would personally suggest avoiding holidays in the first 6 months entirely, and then using your best judgement after that, and maybe try a short low key break in the last 6 months if you feel you'll all manage it.

6) I don't think there's any legal barrier to a child in lac going abroad for a week or two, although you would definitely need the permission of social services and a signed letter from them if you wanted to do so. However if your child doesn't have a passport then avoid it because getting a passport would be hard - they'd need to involve the birth mum and try and get her own bc etc and she might just try and obstruct everything. Plus social services would have to do some of the application and that takes time. Many people find it takes ages and a lot of stress so IMHO it's just not worth the hassle. Go somewhere in the uk and wait until you're all finalised before dealing with the passport office.

7) I don't think so

allthingswillpass Sat 17-Aug-13 12:15:27

1) no we bought no presents for SW's, we felt its their job, and they didn't go above and beyond.
Yours might be different.
2) We had no offers from our LA in 10 months so eventually took matters into our own hands and went on BMP & CWW and banged out emails to any children we were interested in. Finally found LO through NAR.
3) firstly we got profiles, different LA's work differently some hand out CPR straight away, others do not. We actually sort LA's that didn't practise competitive matching - it's bad enough IMO!
4) we read info ASAP and said yes if we were interested so they wouldn't look at other adopters.
5) depends on the child. They need to attach to you and your home. Our LO is used to family holidays, a lot of LAC are not.
6) taking a LAC away anywhere IME requires permission from LA. You will have one less obstacle if they already have a passport, however, then you have to go through customs with a child with a different surname to you and I believe this can be a pain but have no personal experience yet!
Hope that helps.

Kewcumber Sat 17-Aug-13 12:33:12

1 - I didn't buy presents for social worker

2-4 - Uk matching wasn't relevant to me

5 - it really depends on child AND you. I didn't but then I was so glad to be home and getting into a routine that the thought of disrupting it all was a nightmare. I also suffered from PAD for a while and really didn't want to deal with the stress of a holiday. I found holidays to be really more of a chore than a pleasure for a while (certainly the first year). But I was a first time parents and DS was very young and delayed and attached to me like velcro... the thought of doing that somewhere else without all my home comforts wasn't my idea of a holiday!

6 - technically you can but the hassle factor of arranging it would have put me off even had I wanted to (see 5 above) - I stuck to the UK for quite some time even after DS was legally mine.

7 - I doubt where you go will be relevant although friends of mine who have a house in France and go out there for the whole summer did get permission and went right from the beginning but tbh it wasn't really a holiday as such more a second home so the whole disruption thing wasn't so relevant.

I don't really think you can decide this in advance because age and behaviour makes a big difference - but you might find a child who has challenging behaviour makes holidaying very stressful for you and not a break at all.

Bucket and spade holidays close to home for many years until DS was about 5 worked well for us.

Kewcumber Sat 17-Aug-13 12:34:38

Oh and if you have a child with food issues going to another country can cause big problems even if you have learnt to deal with it at home. Sleep issues (from experience!) can sometimes be exacerbated terribly in strange places.

Thanks so much Lilka, allthingswillpass and Kew.

allthingswillpass, what is NAR?

Thanks so much. The only holiday we might want to consider would be to visit friends where we could shop at local supermarket and buy food we knew little liked etc. We have had a bit of an invite abroad for next year and due to passport issues I think it is best to decline for now and see if we can do it another year. I very much hope little one will be with us by next summer but doubt they will be legally one of the family so it is just too many 'ifs'!

After little one comes to live with you, now long before you actually adopt them legally? I mean on average etc.

Thanks

KristinaM Sat 17-Aug-13 20:36:31

I wouldn't do a holiday with friends, even in the uk. Too unsettling . Most kids have many moves, they need stability and structure. Adapting to a new home and family and nursery /school is quite enough for them.

It's really not like having another baby ( born to you) where you just expect them to fit into your existing routine. Everything has to be adjusted to suit the adopted child. Every decision you make you have to think " how might this affect x? "

Even if they see quite flexible,too much change is very stressful for them.you want them to use their energy to attach and bond, not cope with MORE changes.

Thanks Kristina wise advice.

Lilka Sat 17-Aug-13 23:20:44

NAR = National adoption register

KristinaM Sun 18-Aug-13 09:23:03

If you think about it,for most of us, packing up our cases and leaving home means going on holiday, a happy positive time. We go with the ones we love, we are in control. We have choices. And we know everything with be back to normal in 2weeks.

For many of our children it means the terrifying experience of leaving everything you know ( even if its bad) ,your family , home,school /nursery, bedroom, family, toys, family food and smells, routines and moving to mars. It could only be the other side of town but it feels like mars to a 2yo. It's like being abducted by aliens. It doesn't matter how nice the aliens are, if your SW tells you it's your "forever family" and they show you a nice picture book of their home and cat. .its still mars and they are still aliens .

Thanks, Kristina, for reminding me what is important.

KristinaM Sun 18-Aug-13 18:11:59

Of course, if you don't have a child placed by next summer you will be mad with me for spoiling your holiday ;-)

I there any chance you could decide nearer the time ?

Of course, I just wanted to give our friends a heads up, they all seem to have more money than us and so the reunion holidays are going from a day visit to a weekend locally and then to a week internationally. It is (for us) our main holiday and does involve staying in somoene's house. For our daughter it is bliss but I am aware another child may find it all much more difficult. I am hoping in time family holidays will be part of the picture and that the stress and sadness associated with moving to a place for a week will go away but maybe I am kidding myself!

KristinaM Sun 18-Aug-13 20:42:54

I hope it will too. I think most adopted kids are ok with holidays or days out after a while, but some always find them difficult. I think it's probably hardest for toddlers, as they can't verbalise or rationalise their worries or feelings. I've no evidence for that BTW, it's just my opinion :-)

Do you mean when they are toddlers or those who are adopted as toddlers always feel that way, am assuming the former.

MuseumOfHam Sun 18-Aug-13 21:22:22

We did give a small gift to our SW.

We were only told about one child at a time. We initially saw just a very out of date A4 page about DS, the when we said we were interested we also got to see the CPR, meet his SWs, medical advisor and FC. Any movement on their side was pretty glacial, so how long WE got to decide was pretty much a theoretical question.

We took DS for a low key short break after he'd been on Mars with the aliens (like it KristinaM!) for 6 months. It was, um, a mixed success. DS is 6 now and likes the idea of holidays, and does indeed enjoy them, but still gets anxious and manic, with lots of behaviour we thought we'd seen the back of.

MuseumOfHam Sun 18-Aug-13 21:30:44

Oh yeah, Don't forget to tell them that you will be coming BACK from holiday. Or that there will be a toilet there confused. Two years ago DS was particularly away with the fairies pre holiday, and I decided to show him pics of the hotel online to reassure him about where we were going. The point where he visibly relaxed was when he saw a pic of bathroom, turns out he'd been worried about where he was going to GO.

Oh MuseumofHam (very interesting name!) how lovely, I think going to the loo etc is quite a worry for some kids. I do usually remind me DD about it when we go out and if we go to a friends house she has not been to be before I sometimes ask the friend to show her where it is. DD is not adopted but like all kids she might feel worried about stuff so I can see where your ds is coming from. Thanks for the tips.

Any more tips about travel with children adopted into your family very welcome. (DH tells me we will not be going on any more holidays for a while anyway! sad

I mean the friend who is a child her age! Like a girls go to the loo together type thing sometimes! They are sometimes both in the loo chatting!

Lilka Sun 18-Aug-13 22:52:20

Oh God girls and their toilet breaks!! As soon as they get to about 11 they want to go to the toilet in little gangs! What an enticing place to have a gossip hmm They've grown out of it mostly at 17 but a few years ago, if DD2 was with friends, they would all want to go at the same time without fail. If one goes 'I need the loo' suddenly they all do.

Kristina has great advice smile

I agree you have to reinforce the concept that you are going home again. Many children in care won't have experienced holidays before adoption even if they are older children so you are introducing a new idea to them which as Kristina says also involves leaving home with a suitcase so might be very anxiety provoking. Because my kids are quite visual I have used pictures timetables in the past of where we are going, what we are going to do there and include the return journey with pictures of home at the end Eg on the last box it might say when we get home we will eat a small snack and go to bed, with picture of the kitchen attached. The holiday timetables would get displayed on the wall throughout the holiday so they could see we were going home by looking at it (as well as when we were eating dinner that day)

However I think for many children although preparation and anticipation helps, it's really only the experience of actually coming back that convinces them. You can say anything but deep down they might not believe you until you have really pulled up in the driveway. After the first holiday subsequent holidays should hopefully be less worrying for them as they have already experienced coming back.

How best to introduce the idea, Lilks a weekend or just a nighht away? Would it be easier if first weekend away was relaties (with or without other kids?) or to a B and B or hotel (travel lodge??). We don't do fancy hotels?

Devora Sun 18-Aug-13 23:43:11

1 - Normal but not necessary. We gave posh chocolates, because our SW had been a star.

2 - What Lilka said.

5 - I think it depends, but tread warily. We didn't go away for nearly 2 years.

6 - What Lilka said.

yy to telling exactly what will be happening and that you will be coming back. I still forget this sometimes but it is important. I met an adoptive dad once who said that they moved house about a year after adopting siblings. He thought they were very well settled, and was shocked when his dd went into a meltdown. Turns out she thought the parents were moving house, and leaving the children behind sad

Oh how awful about the moving house thing. Yes, will make a mental note to explain all carefully! Is it good to ask them what they think and then explain or just explain?

Meita Mon 19-Aug-13 09:37:03

I hope you don't mind me adding a question here, as people have been giving such good advice: How about 'holidays' that are basically just 'travelling to grandparents' house' (but, gps live far away or even abroad, and the travelling may involve getting on planes or such)?

Surely visiting grandparents would be possible at some point, but would the added distance likely make things harder?

When you helpful ladies (thanks!) say you didn't go away for x years, does that include not going to stay with grandparents?

KristinaM Mon 19-Aug-13 09:58:06

Yes, for me that's included going away at all. It's the packing, leaving home , travelling , living elsewhere with different people, food, smells, noises and routines that's so upsetting for traumatised children .theonly thing that's slightly better about staying in a home rather than a hotel is that you MIGHT have a littel more control over foods. Otherwise it's just like moving foster homes again, or from their birth famiy to foster care.

If grandparents who live abroad want to see the child, they can always travel to you.

If they are too unwell to travel, then it's probably better for one of the parenst to go and see them and the other remain at home with the children, although that's not ideal. TBH if you have very elderly frail parenst who live abroad and you have to vistsi regularly, then you already have your hands full and probably don't have enough time and space for an adopted child in your life right now

I know this is hard, people always say" of course we will alter our routine to suit an adopted child" but she it comes down to the reality of it, many aren't so keen .

If a child doesn't attach and feel secure , then you are MUCH more likely to have seriously problems later on, especially in teenage years. It's not just that you might have a difficult holiday . It about the child's long term psychological development .

Of course I'm not saying that one holiday will create all these problems. But it's it really much to ask , is it, to have a " staycation " for one or two summers? Anyway , as other have said, you probably won't be able to take the child abroad until the adoption order is granted and then you have to apply for the passport, so that coudl easily be a year or so .

KristinaM Mon 19-Aug-13 10:02:09

BTW, what I'm taking about here is attachment and bonding and the child's welfare . . I'm not talking about whether or not your Sw " lets you" . Most SWs have very little training or understanding of these issues and if you ask them they will simply tell you the legal position ie

" once you have the adoption Order you can do what you like "

Or the " common sense view " " yes my children love visiting their grandparents, planes are fun, I'm sure they will love it "

Magslee Mon 19-Aug-13 16:24:11

I got my sw a present as she was great. They won't usually be allowed to accept more than a small token. A letter to their boss saying they were great is also a nice thing to do (if they were great of course)

I agree with the wise words about holidays. We went nowhere for 6 months and then went for a night with a friend who lives about a mile away so ds could get the idea that we go away and come back. I laid both our things out on the bed and then we packed t

Magslee Mon 19-Aug-13 16:29:42

Sorry posted too early ....
Packed together 'ds toothbrush in bag, mummy toothbrush in bag' etc.
after a couple of little practice one night trips we went on holiday - I got all the maisy goes on holiday type books before hand and talked about the holiday house etc. I think I may have overdone it as ds announced 'mummy holiday wee' etc throughout. Anyway, he was fine but i think that is probably largely due to personality etc. I definitely won't be going anywhere we couldn't just pack up and head home from if he got distressed for a while so it'll be buckets and spades and anoraks for a few years yet

Thanks so much for all your advice.

Meita Tue 20-Aug-13 14:57:27

Mhm food for thought, thanks! Kristina I don't think it's especially hard (well in our case the grandparents would be happy to travel anyway) to not go on holiday for however long it takes, and then to introduce the concept carefully and slowly. I was just curious so as to be able to plan better!

I guess there are various parts about holidays that can be difficult, and visiting grandparents, while some parts might be easier than in 'proper' holidays (you wouldn't be among strangers; and you could, as you said, make the same foods) - other parts would still be the same as with other holidays, so definitely not to undertake lightly.

How do you know when the child is ready for holidays or weekends away? I know there may be no cut and dried-s, but any general ideas, please?

cedar12 Wed 21-Aug-13 08:15:05

For us ds was fine after a year. We took him away after 6 months for a weekend and it was very stressful! and looking back now his behaviour then was more up and down than it is now after a year. Also his speech has come on leaps and bounds which also helped.
We went away at the beginning of the summer holiday and he was fine. He was very excited about going on a plane. We talked a lot about going on the plane and playing in the swimming pool before we went and talked about coming back to our house.When we were on holiday and we saw a plane we told him we were going back our house on a plane in a few days. It is lovely when he said yes we will go back to our house with the blue door and our little dog. He had a lovely time, we kept it quite relaxed though just playing in the pool and going to the park.

Sounds lovely Cedar.

I know it must sound very selfish to some for me t be so preoccupied about holidays and going away business but I love travel and going away. Don't get me wrong, we do not do it a lot! We just can't afford it. We have one holiday a year to either visit friends or relatives. We rarely stay in hotels aside from Travel Lodge! I have one relative who lives by the sea, DH's parents who live about an hour away n the countryside three or four friends who live overseas. So it is not like we are always travelling about. I think it just feels kind of scary that we won;t be able to travel as a family and the child won't want to be left etc and although I am 100% up for it I guess this travel thing is one I will just have to mourn for and if it all works out well they may feel happy in the future to go on hols etc. I know for lots of people holidays are a case of 'it's always nice to come to home' but for me I just see the value and joy in being away from day to day life! I used to hate it when we were kids and we had 'going out for days out' holidays instead of going away holidays (because we could not afford it) so I guess it is something else to be used it.

irishe Wed 21-Aug-13 20:51:52

1. No present for sw
2. We discussed during the home study whether we wanted to be approved for 1 or 2 children, so this had been covered and decided prior to going to panel. Our sw was guided by us in this respect but was very open about the differing challenges that might be experienced when adopting one child or 2 at the same time. This willingness to have this conversation (without us feeling judged in a 'I don't think you could cope with 2 type of way') helped us explore our own strengths and vulnerabilities and come to a decision that felt right for us. Of course there will always be challenges no matter the number adopted and you can't be prepared for everything.
2. We got as much info as we needed to make a decision, and we took as much time as we needed. We were given the full form E on any child we considered. Bear in mind that some of the timings are out with your control, for example having to wait for the child's sw to make an appt to see us and waiting to see the medical officer. Our agency only showed us one profile at a time, we did not have any say in this. The agency had a policy of only showing a childs profile to one set of prospective adopters at a time so thankfully we were not in competition from other potential adopters from our own agency but were told we might be in competition with potential adopters from the LA. Luckily for us this did not happen, so we were able to avoid the whole competitive matching thing.
5. I think this really depends on the child and how the attachment process is going, what the child's previous experiences have been, have they experienced multiple fostering placements, how do they cope with change in general. 3 months into our child coming to live with us we needed to visit family, it wasn't ideal and was not in our plan, how we coped was to rent a house for a week, filled the car with bedding, virtually all her toys, anything that was important. We kept all her routines the same, particularly around bed time and food. Then we asked family to visit us rather than us trailing round different houses. So it took a lot of thought and I was anxious the whole time, worrying we were jeopardising the progress we had made. Not very relaxing! DD was unfazed, but I was a wreck! Not to be recommended.
6. Our sw told us once the permancy order was granted we could go abroad but needed the LA's consent and obviously a passport. We decided against this as it felt potentially disruptive for us all and we wanted DD's first passport to be in her new family name, which would be post adoption order.
Holidays were always important to us pre children, but I do feel differently now we are parents. Watching the joy on our daughters face as she explores our very ordinary garden reminds me that those special family moments occur in the most mundane of places.

Thanks * irishe* that is great. Sounds lovely your dd loves her garden so much.

HappySunflower Thu 22-Aug-13 00:08:38

The following responses are based on my own experiences, so may not be the same in your area.

1. I did. But then, i felt that our sw was rather exceptional in her approach, and really did go above and beyond in how she supported us.
2. Yes, one at a time.
3. Initially, the child's profile, which is usually one or sometimes two sides of information. Once I expressed an interest in finding out more/taking things further then her CPR was made available to me, along with lots of other information, chronology, medical reports, etc.
4. Can't actually remember, but I wasn't pressured into making any quick decisions, and was encouraged to ask questions and take time to talk to my support network about things.
5. In my opinion/experience: no. We went away for a weekend after about six months which, in hindsight, was too soon. A lot depends on the individual child, some will be fine to go away after 9/12 months, some children I know have struggled after a year and a half, every child has a different history, and of course every child and their needs are different so its hard to predict.
6. What everyone else has said really. My childs SW told me that her team likes to have a passport for each child pre FAO, because they feel it is easier to get one at that stage whilst they have birth Mothers details, and then change their surname. We had permission to leave the country to go on holiday before the FAO; SS needed to know where we were going, who we were staying with and see copies of flight details.

FamiliesShareGerms Sat 24-Aug-13 11:05:09

As usual my experience bucks the trend (so see me as an outlier, not a reliable indication of how things might be for you!)

1) We bought flowers for both our SW and DD's SW. They both came to our celebration hearing, and we wanted to say thank you for getting us all there so promptly.

2)-4) We only got DD's details: three or four photos, a single side summary of her position, plus the detailed Part E (can't remember how long, but it had significant info on eg her birth family as well as her). We had overnight to decide, but if we had been asked to decide within the hour I think we would probably have said yes. It felt right (if overwhelming)

5) We had short breaks with family and close friends. I can't remember when we first went - after a months, I think. The key difference with DD compared to many other LAC is that she was with a single set of foster carers, so doesn't have the same anxiety that many will have. She came to us with a passport - but we haven't used it (mostly because we have spent our money on buying and improving our house rather than holidays)

6)-7) We were told we would need to get written permission from the LA to take her abroad before the adoption order was granted.

Maiyakat Sun 25-Aug-13 19:56:22

I don't count as experienced, but will have a go anyway wink

1) I intend to get something for my SW, as she's been fantastic. Was wondering why your SW is changing after panel? I found it so helpful to have a SW who knew me well taking me through the matching process.

2) I was given more than one profile at once, and got them all by e-mail - think this might be unusual though!

3) I got 1-3 sides A4 initially (with a photo), then got CPR if I wanted to pursue the link (some LAs want to see your PAR before they'll give you this)

4) This very much depended - one I was given a deadline of a few days, others I had more time.

5) We've just got back from a week away, 4 1/2 months into placement. I only decided to do this after DD was placed and we had tried an overnight at grandparents' (who live locally so could come home if any problems). DD coped with holiday well, we were self catering in UK so all food exactly the same and she was the only child so everything could be arranged around her. DD only 11 months at placement and only one foster carer since birth, so as Families said less anxiety than an older child may have.

6) DD's SW kept asking if I'd want a passport and hoping I'd say no as she didn't want to have to deal with it! Quite how she thinks I can afford it whilst on adoption leave I'm not sure! I wouldn't for several years though

Exellis Wed 28-Aug-13 08:29:36

Regards taking the children abroad our LA must be quite different as our little ones have been with us only for four months. They are quite happy for us to take them abroad to Spain for a week before the Adoption Order is in. In fact the LA have applied for the passports on our behalf (in their old names) and even paid for them the passports were back within a week so we are all set. All we need to do is also take a Letter of Authority.

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