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42 with biological children: suitability to adopt, advice please?

(33 Posts)
analyticalannie Sat 06-Aug-11 21:53:35

My husband is 42 also and we have 3 children aged from 11-16. I feel as a family we would have a lot to offer a child - I have contacted an adoption agency and was advised by a SW that adopting when there are biological children doesn't work as the child feels different. He said he based this on speaking to adult children who have been adopted. This has really put me off as the last thing we would want to do is create more issues for the child to deal with.

I would also like to ask if 42 is too old? I would not be wanting to adopt a baby, but would love to nurture and support a child who would benefit from belonging to a loving family. He suggested that we look at fostering I am however the sort of person who gives 110% and I am concerned that I would find it difficult letting the child go.

Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

bonnieslilsister Sat 06-Aug-11 23:04:13

You sound lovely and I hope you manage to give a child a home. Sometimes it is more appropriate for a child to be fostered long term when they are older than 5 and it really is like adoption. I love fostering and am so glad I became a fc. Wish I had done it years ago.

I wonder how good the research was. I am sure in many adoptions (of course depending on the adoptive parents) the children felt very close and happy with their adoptive sibs.

Good luck xx

Maryz Sat 06-Aug-11 23:26:08

I have this theory that social workers start by trying to put everyone off adopting. That way, they get left with the people who really want to do it.

If you think about it, many, many people vaguely think adopting "would be a nice thing to do". They call their local agency/council and put forward the idea. When they get negative feedback, 90% give up, and those are the people who were probably half-hearted about it in the first place. The other 10% pursue it, and show commitment, and are taken more seriously.

I don't know if you would be approved. But if you are serious, keep going. We bashed our heads against a brick wall for four years (letters and phone calls every three months to every adoption agency within driving distance) before getting any sort of positve response.

Having said all that, I'm the parent of two adopted children and one "home-made" and it does make a difference. Not to us, and not to the children and their relationship with us and each other. But to other people (dh's family in particular). Many people persist in talking about ds2 as being "a miracle baby" and saying I must have a special bond with him hmm.

There will be people along in a while who know more about the adoption process in England who may have more useful advice smile.

hester Sat 06-Aug-11 23:29:09

Well, I hope that sw was not right, because I have an adopted child and a birth child. Our adopted child came to us when I was 46 and dp was 48.

I do think, however, that you have to carefully consider the potential dynamics that might arise from adopting when there are birth children in the family. A good social worker will talk these through with you. I cannot imagine this is suitable as a 'standard' discussion - there are so many dynamics at play.

I would advise you to talk to a few more agencies - you don't have to stick with your home agency. I talked to about 5, and some of them really, really didn't want to take us on. The one that did was very enthusiastic about us, and we had really great support from them throughout the process.

hester Sat 06-Aug-11 23:30:43

Oh, and the www.adoptionuk.org message board has a special section for adopters with birth children. Might be worth looking through to get a sense of others' experiences.

Best of luck.

analyticalannie Sun 07-Aug-11 09:05:12

Bonnieslilsister-Thank you for your encouraging reply. I will consider long term fostering - as from a selfish point of view- I want to use my 42 years of life experience to support and nurture a child. I love parenting my children -I just love spending time with them. Basically I want to become an important part of a child's life. I have however an acquaintance who fostered a 10 year old girl - this was supposed to be long term but the placement broke down after 6 months because of the input of the birth parents. But I know that this is just one perspective and your enthusiasm for fostering shines through your post.

Marz: Thank you for sharing your story. I too would be concerned about my husband's family. I would have to be on my guard- especially at Christmas that no difference was being made.

I think you made a valuable point in stating that the sw may have being trying to weed out those who are really serious.

Hester:Could I ask what age your adopted child was when he came to live with you? Thank you for your suggestion - I will have a look at the adoption UK message board- this is all new to me and I guess I want to find out as much as I can.

Could I just ask do you think our ages would be a major stumbling block with regards to adoption?

Kewcumber Sun 07-Aug-11 12:06:07

42 is not particularly old for an adopter particularly if you are looking at younger primary age childrne which I'd guess would be the age range you're likely to be matched with.

You might also consider a sibling group to minimise teh "difference" angle though that comes with its own difficulties.

Sadly many school age adoptions disrupt so I'm not sure that you could guarantee that adoption is more permanent than fostering though I do think the motivation behind the two are very differnt.

Do you want to grow your family and have more children or do you want to "help" a child.

IME adopting for social reasons (ie wanting to help a child) creates a differnt dynamic between the paretns and adopted child to a birth child - that you are in your family because your paretns wanted to do a good thing not because they really wanted a child.

If your aim is to provide a child with the benefit of a loving family and your years of parenting (though you may find that an older child with a rocky start in life requires very different paretning skills to the ones you have honed!) then long-term fostering sounds up your street (though yes you do need to accept that the child may well move on, though that doesn;t mean that you lose contact completely).

If you really, really, really want another child then adoption is more likely to be for you.

In my opinion, if you are in the "wanting to help" camp then you are unlikely to stick with it through the adoption process because quite often it is a difficult process and only those who are doing it for selfish reasons keep plugging away!

bonnieslilsister Sun 07-Aug-11 12:08:42

I would say they would probably look at younger parents for babies and toddlers but you indicated you were not expecting to adopt a baby. If you were willing to take a slightly older child I don't think your age would be a barrier.

I can imagine if the child has contact with their birth family, which is often the case for long term foslings, there would be the potential for disruption and problems so unfortunately I am not surprised that placements break down.

I do short term fostering and have had a gorgeous nearly 3 yr old since he was 18 months. With me he is polite and more or less well behaved but during contact with his siblings (I have had them a lot lately, for about 7 weeks on and off cos their foster carer has problems) his behaviour deteriorates and he is defiant and rude!!

Kewcumber Sun 07-Aug-11 12:19:20

you may well be asked to maintain birth family contact in some way with an older child even with adoption though once the child is adopted there is no legal requirement for you to do so. However an older child will likely have memories of birth family and contact may be appropriate and may be beneficial to them however hard you find it.

Maryz Sun 07-Aug-11 12:38:17

That is a very important point Kewcumber just made, about the difference between (possibly) selfishly wanting a child, and wanting to help a child. And I think it is even more important in a family with birth and adopted children. Because it would be easy if the child didn't "fit" well into the family, or turned out to have more significant SN than expected, or was just a bolshy fecker, to think "you ungrateful sod, after all we have done for you" type thoughts. And if you don't, your wider family or the child's older siblings may. You need to be very, very sure that you are adopting a child because you really, really want that child.

I have seen threads on here where adult children have obviously resented adult adopted siblings, saying things like "I hate how he treats my mother", for example.

In my case my adopted children are older than my birth son, and they are both very much wanted and loved. But I know there are times when my parents, and certainly dh's family, look at us and know how much easier our lives would be without ds1. Had I adopted him out of a sense of "saving him from a life in care" for example, I would be really regretting it now because he might have been happier in care sad.

All these things do come up in the assessment process, which is why although it is seen as unnecessarily complicated and invasive at times, it is really important.

psiloveyou Sun 07-Aug-11 12:51:04

You sound like a lovely person. I really hope you can find some way of bringing another child into your family.
I can't add anything to the thread because you have got some brilliant advice from everyone. I just wanted to tell you about our family dynamics. We have DD1 - 23
DS1 - 11
DD2 - 8
DS2 - 6
DD3 - 4

The eldest is my DD from my first marriage.
The youngest was adopted by us when I was 48.
Of the 3 in the middle 1 is the birth child of dh and I and two are long term fostered. We also foster another teenage girl on a short term basis (she has been here 9 months now).

All of the dc call me mum (their choice). People who don't know us well never know which children are adopted/fostered ect. The dc all get on brilliantly and refer to each other as siblings.
We are very lucky it works for us and I do know of a couple of others who have similar very diverse families.

So good luck hope it works for you.

bonnieslilsister Sun 07-Aug-11 14:26:21

I know a family who have 4 birth children, last one has just left home. They have also 3 adopted school age children and still foster little ones. I know they would have a word with you if you like OP. Just pm me if you would like to speak with them. They are lovely people.

hester Sun 07-Aug-11 20:13:30

OP, my dd was 10 months when she came to us. Very young in adoption terms.

analyticalannie Sun 07-Aug-11 21:05:31

First of all I want to thank each and every one of you for your valuable insight.

Kewcumber: You make a very important point when you ask if I want to 'grow the family' or to 'help'. So yes I am a caring, nurturing sort of person. I chose a career in the NHS which involves helping people. I cook all home-made meals, grow my own veg, really enjoy helping with homework etc. But yes I would like to 'add' to the family. We did consider a fourth child when I was 32/33, however it was not possible financially as my husband's farm was really struggling. Thankfully we have completely turned this around! We also considered having another baby when I was 41, but after much thought I decided that it was not the baby i was looking for.

That really worries me when you describe how many school age adoptions break down and that is certainly something to think about. Of course I would not want to bring this disruption to our lives or intot he life of our adopted child.

Maintaing contact is something that I am not concerned about. I would do everything in my power to ensure that the best interests of the child would be served. The placement I was referring to was exactly as Bonnieslilsister described - the contact with the birth father caused major disruption to the placement and led to its breakdown.

Maryz: i hadn't considered that my biological children may grow up to resent the behaviour of the adopted child. More to think about.

psiloveyou: What a lovely family - you are very lucky they all get on so well. In a lot of ways that is what I would love to achieve. If I could wave a magic wand we would adopt/ long term foster 1 or 2 children. They would integrate beautifully into our family and I could concentrate on helping them achieve their full potential. I could take them swimming, teach them how to cook, take them to music lessons, concerts and plan holidays with them. That is my dream - but I do know from reading posts on MN that real life is not always so easy!

This is my second attempt at posting this - I lost the other one 30 minutes ago! I just want to thank you all again you have given me many points to consider and I am very grateful.

simonjohn Sun 07-Aug-11 21:28:43

hello - hope i am not too late. I am single and now 43 and last week 2 little boys moved in whom I am adopting - one 4 and one 5 and half. so far it has good incredibly well, considering they had been in stable foster care for 3 and half years.
It took me 3 years and 2 months to get this far- as said above part of the length of time is to check your determination - but a lot was also just waiting around for things to happen. It is an invasive process - i took the attitude of total honesty and openness- on money, relationships, upbringing etc.
Fostering takes all forms - and can include long term placement to adulthood and does not necessarily mean "giving up" children.
There is no legal age restriction - you need to be healthy enough to raise a child to adulthood, but guidance in practice says no more than 40 years between parent and child.
I would say start the process- it takes time and you can stop at any point if you want. Do not wonder later "what if"

analyticalannie Sun 07-Aug-11 22:00:34

Simonpeter:Congratulations on having the boys come to live with you. You are right that life is for living and paralysis by analysis is a major defect in my character - hence the nickname! Raising boys brings such variety from all the sports they try - you name it my boys have had a go at it. Thanks for sharing your story and I take your point that if I discover that adoption is not for us, we can always withdraw from the process

analyticalannie Sun 07-Aug-11 22:07:25

Simonjohn: apologies for getting your name wrong - I really hope everything continues to go well for you and the boys.

Gymbob Sun 07-Aug-11 22:25:25

Analyticalannie - I too foster - we have an 11 year old girl, she has been with us now for two and a half years, and will be with us until she grows up.

We actually went down the adoption route first - attended the meetings etc - and decided that fostering would suit our family better. We had a fair few foster children before our fd arrived.

In many ways, fostering can be much more complicated - children coming and going sometimes at very short notice indeed, lots of different little personalities to deal with, endless meetings, training, arranging sibling contact......

Someone mentioned fostering sibling groups. Sibling groups are always hard to place, and quite often siblings are split up. That is the case with our little girl, her two brothers are with two different foster carers. So sad.

bonnieslilsister Sun 07-Aug-11 22:33:16

Simonjohn congratulations and I hope you have a happy life with your new children xx

analyticalannie Mon 08-Aug-11 08:19:58

Bonnieslilsister: Thank you for offering to put us in touch with another family.

You have all given us lots to think about - my mind is working overtime. To summarise we have to really be sure of our motives, and I have thought about this one. Yes we would like to add to our family and in a way we want to 'help', but I feel that it is more that we feel we might be good at it. We also feel that our biological children would be supportive to the adopted/ long term fostered child.

Gymbob: You suggested looking at sibling groups, as all 3 of our children were under 5 at one stage , this is certainly something we could look at.

Simonjohn : I get the point that you are trying to make - regarding how long the process took.

So basically if we started at Christmas , the youngest child we would be suitable for is 5 1/2. Keecumber made the important point that a lot of school age adoptions fail. Therefore would I be right in saying that due to our ages, the children we may be suitable to be placed with would have more problems?

Gymbob Mon 08-Aug-11 10:34:07

In my experience, the longer the child is in an unsuitable place ie, with birth parents who are neglecting or abusing them etc, emotional damage is likely to have happened. They can go into foster care with heavy emotional baggage. IMO, our little fostered girl should have been removed from her birth mother 2 years earlier - when she was 7 - when it would have been easier for her to adapt and the damage done to her would have been less.

So yes, the older they are the trickier they could be.....good luck.....if you are prepared to foster sibling groups (and have room to give them a bedroom each) I expect social services will snap your hands off.

bonnieslilsister Mon 08-Aug-11 10:55:06

Would they need a room of their own Gymbob? I would have thought for same sex sibs they would share and it might even help the children to have each other at night time.

They dont always stick to the guidelines about age either so you could get pre schoolers. Some do have heavy emotional baggage but many would thrive in the environment you describe. I would think it would be easier to take just one child if they have had serious neglect especially as you have other children.

analyticalannie Mon 08-Aug-11 12:31:28

Bonnieslilsister: you read my mind - we have 5 bedrooms. Obviously 4 are taken. All my kids are doing really well academically and will go to university- unless they change their mind. So they will probably still be living at home until their mid-20s, but who knows?

I am not sure whether we should apply to adopt or go for long term foster care. I also thought about where we live - in the country, 10 miles away from the nearest town. It has its advantages- no drugs here for one. If the kids go anywhere we have to take them - I wonder however how children brought up in an inner city environment might take to it? It is very peaceful and we can also walk to a blue flag beach. Boys especially would love the farm and there is always lots to do. Agriculture is on the up and we feel that they would pick up lots of skills which could lead to a career.

But I am getting way ahead of myself. The sw also said that they had only one family where an adoption had taken place after biological children. He was extremely negative about the dynamics. I have thought about it now for 7 months and am just unsure which road to take.

simonjohn Mon 08-Aug-11 15:39:50

thank you akk for kindness- a lot of time out so far today, but both have just sat v still for nail cutting- a bit scary for me.......
all children available for adoption/fostering are clearly v different and have had different experiences, good and bad- my two had a horrid time with birth parents, more so the elder as he was with them longer, but have had excellent care and stabilty with really great foster carers, henc the so far smoth move to me. I am amazed by their adaptabilty and resistence.
SW do focus on the negative- they see many terrible things and want us all to be aware of the realities.
I am aware I may well be in a honeymoon period at the momen - long may it last!
I also live 10 miles from a town in a small village- my boys moving from classes of 35 to classes of 10 - i think it will be brilliant for them. Inner city kids will love it !!!
I also think other families adopt with biological children - your SW may not be v experienced in adoption - my boys sw has just moved across from another dept - so dont let that put you off!!! go for it
xxxx

kayb123 Mon 08-Aug-11 16:12:17

a happy home is a happy home!!, they are always looking for people to take in children yet they turn down people, i was also looking into fostering i have a big 5 bed farm house.. the silly woman looked down on us and was worried the 'teenagers' would fall into the fenced off swimming pool, and wanted us to get new window for the whole house - no idea what that was about [hmm) and baisclly we weren't good enough, so i backed out.

But it is a worth while thing and i hope that what ever you do brings you great joy and happyness

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