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Is there any chance we could adopt this child?

(13 Posts)
bethanymum Tue 09-Aug-11 20:23:56

Hi there,

I'm looking for opinions and knowledge from people in the know about something my husband and I have been thinking about recently. I'm afraid I don't know any of the correct jargon and all information i have is currently just picked up from vague discussion - so may not be correct! Also I am not wanting to give out to much info just in case so I am not divulging gender and some other bits.

A friend of ours is a foster parent and has had a child in her care for a few years now, the child is 6 years old and has recently been given 'permanency' (which I understand means the child will now never be returned to the neglectful and abusive parents.) However they are still waiting for a decision to be made as to weather the child will be put up for adoption and have recently heard that it will now be more likely to be long term foster care because of the child's age. sad But I'm also told if someone were to ask to adopt her that might work.

Having spent some time with this wonderful child, we have not been able to stop thinking about bringing them into our family and giving them a better chance of a decent future in a loving family.

However before we even get started on thinking about this seriously we have a feeling it would be unlikely that they would allow us to adopt her for a few reasons. I am being very honest here, some of this may sound like we are not good people, but I promise you we are.

Reason one is that we live at completely the different end of the country (in fact technically in a different country within the UK) - this would be a huge change for the child.

Reason 2 is that my husband sought help from his GP 7 years ago in order to stop drinking, something he needed help with at a rocky time in his life (break down of his 1st marriage). He received counseling on the NHS and he now does not drink and hasn't done for 7 years. We realize this looks bad on a file! Sadly I would say as a result he is a much more responsible parent than many who will happily get drunk around their children.

Reason 3 is that we are both self employed and therefore our finacial situation is slightly less stable than others.

Then there are our kids, we have one 18 month old and 3 teenagers from his first marriage - only one of whome lives with us - the other 2 visit regularly, they are lovely and we have a lovely family bond.

My husband is 40, I also worry about that - would that be considered too old?

So what do you think, do you think we would get turned down straight away? And if not, what would be the process if we were to start considering this seriously?

Thanks in advance.

bethanymum Tue 09-Aug-11 20:26:01

okay so reading that back i wasn't very successful at hiding gender. blush

pjani Tue 09-Aug-11 20:28:56

I don't know anything about criteria (maybe this post isn't helpful, sorry!) but that history sounds fine to me.

Isn't the government trying to encourage adoption? And aren't slightly older children harder to place?

hester Tue 09-Aug-11 22:41:10

Does your friend want to keep the child? Have you discussed your thoughts with her? (Her recommendation would really strengthen your case.)

None of the factors you discuss would necessarily stop you adopting this child, and the fact that you know her already would be a big plus. But clearly, first step is a discussion with her social worker.

Best of luck.

Kewcumber Wed 10-Aug-11 13:00:29

Each of the things you mention might be an issue but not insurmountable ones. The bonus is that you are experienced paretns and you want to take on a school aged child.

A bigger issue for some SS would be that you have at home a younger birth child and many SS won't place a child out of birth order (ie they come into the family in age order) and this is for good reasons. However if your friend has been fostering her for some time and you have a clearer idea that your home situation might work for her (which of course is the key deciding factor) then you should as Hester suggests have a preliminary word with her social worker.

Kewcumber Wed 10-Aug-11 13:02:01

why would 40 be considered too young for a 6 yr old when you have a 18 month old at home? confused

SS prefer to have an appropriately "normal" age gap between paretn and child and 34 yr gap seems no problem to me

bethanymum Wed 10-Aug-11 15:38:47

Thank you for your replies.

Kew - very true about age, i only asked because I had been googling and read a on one website that you needed to be between 25-40 - but this may have been a private adoption agency (is there sucha thing? I'm sorry i really am totally clueless at the moment!)

I have made a few enquiries with the foster carer, and she seemed to think, like you guys, that it is definitely worth persueing if we are interested.

Now I feel a bit scared, and we need to spend some time seriously soul searching. I want to help this little one so much, and we do want another child (have fertility issues so it doesn't happen easily) in our family. She really is so very lovely aswell.

I have so many questions now. Please tell me what things I should be considering - we really need to consider every possibility in making this decision!

Kewcumber Wed 10-Aug-11 15:56:27

no there are no private adoption agencies but there are vluntary agencies licenced by the governement. However it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of age - though a sw will try to choose paretns who have an age appropriate gap.

SS will want to be sure that you have deicded not to pursue another pregnancy or at least not for a long time as this child would absorb a lot of your time and energy and deserves that your concentration is focussed on her for some time to come (another reason why SS prefer not to have younger childrne as older ones can generally understand the need to prioritise the needs of a newly adopted child)

you also need to decide if adoption is the way for you to grow your family and not fertility treatment and another pregnancy.

Apart fom that I would suggest you don;t spend to much time worrying about it at this stage and talk to someone either SW or adoption team who can at least let you know whether you might be considered.

KristinaM Wed 10-Aug-11 20:48:42

you would probably be assessed by a local adoption agency ( to where you live) and approved by them to adopt this specific child. the placement woudl probably then be supervised by that agency.

age and financial instabilty not issues ( unless you couldn't afford to support another child).

distance will be an issue if the child has continuing face to face contact with her birth family.

she will need her own bedroom and one of you will need to take adoption leave. SS will prefer it if there is a parent at home full time or at least part time.

they will want to meet his ex wife and his other children and your step child who lives with you will be part of the assessment

i suspect that SS will want to talk to you about the following:

how can you have spent a lot of time with this child if she lives at the other end of the country? even if she has been an easy, well behaved child in foster care, she might behave very differently in a permenent placement. how will you cope with her emotional and behavioural problems?

does the child WANT to be adopted?

has she ever been in a placement with a toddler or young child? is there any reason to think that she might physically or sexually abuse a younger child?

adopting a child can be very VERY stressful. a very high proportion ( est. between a quarter and a third) of placements break down. how can you be sure that your Dh wont start to drink again? how do you cope with stress now ?

how will you be able to give this girl the time she needs when you have a toddler?

if this child needs special education, medical or psychological services, are these available where you live?

i am not trying to put you off, just warn you about the things that will need to be considered.

HTH

thefirstMrsDeVere Sat 13-Aug-11 14:42:52

I think the main issue is the age of your youngest child.

The child you are talking about may be classed as 'hard to place' due to age so it is worth looking into.

But be prepared for heartache.

If it were me (because I can only really comment from that angle IYSWIM). I would contact the Local Authority in the child's region and express you interest.

You may get a no, there and then. But at least you will know.

NanaNina Mon 15-Aug-11 22:23:07

Hi B's mum - When you say the child has been "given permanency" this probably means that the Local Authority have a Care Order on the child and are seeking a permanent placement, and as you say it has been agreed that the child will not be returned to the parents.

Presumably this child was placed with your friends on the basis of short term fostering. I am assuming that they do not want to keep the child on the basis of permanent fostering or make application for other sorts of Orders that would mean the child could remain with them. There is absolutely no reason why they should want to keep the child, it's just that some short term carers do sometimes want to make the placement permanent.

I think you have had some good advice from Kewcumber and from Kristina, alhtough she does ask if the child wants to be adopted. It is the case that children's wishes and feelings need to be taken into account in decisions about their future, but I don't think anyone would expect a 6 year old to be able to make such a decision, and sometimes decisions have to be made for young children. I think a lot of the points Kristina raises are very valid, especially about being available for the child both physically and emotionally. How are you going to cope with school times, holidays and when the child is sick. It may be that is not a problem as you are both self employed, but it is something the social workers will need to be convinced about.

I think it was Kewcumber who advised that you think long and hard about your wish to care for this child. Are your hearts over ruling your heads? I don't think any of the issues you have raised about your family are insurmountable. I am assuming the child is very settled with your friends as you say she has been with them for "some years" - and any move is going to be very unsettling for her. I think one of the biggest difficulties is the fact that you have an 18 mth old. Children who are placed permanently really need to be the youngest in the family, so that they don't have to compete with younger children, as they have so many needs of their own, given the abuse or neglect that they have suffered when with birth parents.

The LA will be hoping to find an adoptive family for this child, given that she is so young, but surprisingly many adoptors are unwilling to take a child over 5. They often start off wanting a baby or very young child, and then when told that this is unlikely, they will agree to take a slightly older child, but for them the younger the better. Nonetheless I think that will be the LA's first choice, to provide permanence and stability for this child. If they cannot find suitable adoptors,they will be looking for permanent foster carers. This too may be difficult but easier than finding adoptors.

You clearly have seen a fair bit of this child even though you and your friends live far apart. As I've already said, any move is going to be unsettling for her, but if she knows you well, this could be an advantage.

I think as others have said, the thing to do is to contact the child's social worker and talk things over. They won't say "yes" or "no" straight away - it doesn't work like that - there will be many things to consider, and this will take time. You have been very honest about your family background and this is a good sign, as you do need to be open and honest with the social workers. If you contact the child's social worker, this doesn't mean that you are committing yourself to anything - merely that it is something you are considering - it is a 2 way street - the social workers have to be sure that you are suitable and you have to be sure that this is something that you really want to do. You will have uncertainties, and that is normal in this situation. What usually happens in cases like this is that if you want to proceed, the social workers do a viability assessment, which means that they carry out a short assessment to decide if it is viable to undertake a comprehensive assessment. You are still not committed to anything.

There are various options for permanent care of a child - one is adoption, and there is something called a Special Guardianship Order (which is one step away from adoption) and then there is permanent foster care. I don't want to confuse you at this stage. I am wondering what your friend thinks of the plan - you may have said but can't recall. I think you need to get the social worker's name and number (or e mail address) from your friend and let him/her know that you have been thinking about offering a permanent home to this child and would welcome the chance to talk it over. Until you do that you can't move any further.

Happy to help further if necessary - or you can PM me.

bethanymum Sun 28-Aug-11 15:58:28

Hi everyone, thank you all so so much for the advice. Its all been great to help us get our heads around the idea.

I contacted the social work team local to the child and had a long chat (god that was gruelling! But a taste of what is to come I suppose). We agreed that the best course of action to begin with is to write a letter to the child's social worker - which is what we are in the process of doing currently.

Its a going to be a long process - and reaching a final decision will be very hard work - I know right now it seems exactly right for us - but as we pursue the application process I know we may face things that may cause us to change our minds. I feel scared by how committed to this I already feel - but I am trying to maintain a 'what will be will be' attitude - easier said than done!

Anyway, I really need resources like this forum - I am also looking at another adoption forum - but I have to say I am scared of sharing info online - its such a delicate subject.

KristinaM Sun 28-Aug-11 16:16:31

Good luck with your application

i completely understand your concerns about sharing information online and think you woudl be wise not to share any details of the child

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