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Exerienced adopters, please tell me about reaction to children bonding and attachment

(30 Posts)
Italiangreyhound Sat 07-Sep-13 12:32:21

In our area people who are adopting do not meet the child before they agree to adopt, normally. I have heard of exceptions. Does anyone have examples of exceptions, please?

The social workers have said you will sometimes get a feeling this is the right child when you read the info. You might see a picture or video clip/DVD of the child.

Anyone willing to share....

When/How you 'knew' or 'felt' this was the child for you?

Is bonding different from attachment?

How does bonding and attachment work?

Does not meeting the child before you say yes have any detrimental affect on your ability to bond/attach?


Devora Mon 09-Sep-13 00:09:45

Terrified, numb, faintly resentful, but also slightly obsessed and crush-y. A real maelstrom.

HappySunflower Sun 08-Sep-13 22:43:28

How did it feel?

A bit like when I passed my driving test and drove on my own for the first time. Don't be surprised if you keep waking up in the night, wondering if it really happened, wandering into their room to just look at them.

After so long waiting for it to happen, it did feel quite unbelievable at times that it had actually happened, and that she was home. smile

Maryz Sun 08-Sep-13 22:36:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Italiangreyhound Sun 08-Sep-13 22:30:12

Lilka fab, thanks for all your hard work in posting and your honesty. Thanks for finidng that link.

HappySunflower, Devora, families, allthingswillpass aladdinsane, Mary, and all - thanks so much.

Maiyakat amazing story, how fab, so how did you know, what did you feel?

LEMisdisappointed and PacificDogwood hi, and thanks for your interest.

Kew any faking it tips, please, Kew darling?

Mary and aladdinsane I know what you mean about photos. I think my DD is a beautiufl child but although she has soem lvoely photos she can also take avery bad photo sometimes!

I am so nervous. But also excited.

Any tips, please share!

Wen you finally met your little ones, can you describe how it felt?

aladdinsane Sun 08-Sep-13 21:44:00

My DD looked grim in the photographs and in real life
She was unkempt and snotty and looked a mess - She only needed caring for and she changed totally. She was dressed in scruffy clothes
It didnt take long for her appearance to change- regular baths, a proper skin care routine, real food and nurture
It was all part of the 'claiming' each other
I can honestly say now that i love her as much as my BC- it a good job because she has put us through some tough times!!!

Maryz Sun 08-Sep-13 20:19:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Lilka Sun 08-Sep-13 19:43:50

I agree with the others. I felt responsible straight away, protectiveness took longer but still came pretty quickly. It's the feeling responsible and being committed that get you through until you start feeling warm loving feelings. Take every day as a new day.

Kewcumber Sun 08-Sep-13 19:28:45

yes I did also feel very protective and responsible almost immediately.

aladdinsane Sun 08-Sep-13 18:54:02

Missed out words sorry
I meant I felt so protective towards her and when SW teased her I was not happy
I think the feeling responsible and protective is very important
Its what keeps you with them through the tough times before the love

aladdinsane Sun 08-Sep-13 18:47:03

I felt the same as maryz
It took me time to love DD but I did feel an incredible responsibility for her and SW tease her in FC and I thought - She will not get away with treating her like that when shes my child

Maryz Sun 08-Sep-13 17:18:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

aladdinsane Sun 08-Sep-13 16:52:37

Our LA do this more frequently not but its not a meeting as such. Its the potential adopters being able to see the child in a normal setting- park or soft play is typical- but without, hopefully, the child being aware

FamiliesShareGerms Sun 08-Sep-13 16:06:33

LEM, just to add, in case you didn't know: there is an initial period when a child is placed with adoptive parents when they are still technically in the care of the local authority before the adoption order is granted. In fact, it is a legal requirement for the child to have been resident for at least 10 weeks before the parents can apply for the adoption order.

So if things go really wrong quite quickly the placement could be disrupted but without it being a failed adoption, IYSWIM. I think the figures for this are also vague. Even though our placement with DD was going brilliantly, our great SW was really insistent on checking that we were really really sure that we wanted to apply for the adoption order. I guess that is the last chance to pull out before it is a legally irreversible situation (though no less devastating for all concerned, I would imagine).

snail1973 Sun 08-Sep-13 14:34:55

We did meet dd before panel. In fact at that time (6.5 yrs ago) it was a rule with that LA that you had to meet them before panel. I guess they'd had a few instances of people being matched and then when they met they felt it wasn't right for them.

With Ds (diff LA) 2 yrs ago they thought I was mental asking if we could meet first and said they never do that. Mind you I find SW s say they never do lots of things that you later find out that they do...

I don't think a meeting is important with a little one, but for a 4yrs plus child I would totally push for a meeting.

Kewcumber Sun 08-Sep-13 14:12:43

"As for the bonding/attachment, it takes time, and it is really tough initially caring for a child where that bond doesn't yet exist

Amen to that! One of the worst phases for me was early on when DS DS had lost his self soothing mechanism but hadn't yet learnt to be comforted (he was institutionalise so hadn't ever been rocked as comfort or at least not very often).

Screaming child with (very common) sleep issues, stressed new mother convinced she is doing it all wrong, no real attachment yet = nightmare.

I imagine very similar to newborn with mother having PND affecting bonding.

I think if you expect to take time to bond and fake it until you make it then that helps. Also depends on age of child but lots of things suggested to promote bonding from prep course worked well for us- putting DS back on bottle was crucial for pre-bedtime feed and rocking him to sleep against all non-adopters advice!

LEMisdisappointed Sun 08-Sep-13 12:37:56

Thanks lilka, tht is really interesting - thank god for people like you x

Maiyakat Sun 08-Sep-13 12:20:52

I'm going to totally contradict myself in this so apologies in advance wink

The only instances of people meeting their child before intros I know of are on the adoption activity days, which have started in our area in the past few months. Personally I'm glad I never got asked to go on one as I'm really not sure what I think of them. It is so hard removing the emotion from the matching process, but to some extent you have to be quite detached about it (especially at the initial stages) as you have to be very realistic about what additional needs you can take on (and all adopted children will have additional needs, it's a case of which ones you have the ability to manage). How on earth you can do this when you've already met a child I have no idea.

However.... I was being all sensible and detached looking at profiles, until one arrived in my inbox that I couldn't open (the LA had a security setting on it that bamboozled my laptop), and of course it was Friday evening so couldn't ask SW to resend until Monday. And I couldn't leave it that long. For some reason I just knew this e-mail was very very important. So I went into work on my day off to try and open it there (didn't work), and eventually e-mailed it to my sister, who opened the profile and e-mailed it back. As she was doing this, I was thinking 'I can't believe my sister is going to see a photo of my daughter before I do!' The photo she saw first is now on my mantelpiece, and the little girl in it is napping upstairs.

As for the bonding/attachment, it takes time, and it is really tough initially caring for a child where that bond doesn't yet exist. And just because I was so sure so early that the match was right I don't think it made me bond any quicker. I remember in the first week DD teething and crying and crying as she didn't really get any comfort from me holding her, she wanted foster carer. Now it's totally different and she comes to me for comfort.

Lilka Sun 08-Sep-13 12:03:25

But adoption orders can't be reversed

So if the adoption fails AFTER the finalisation, the parents remain the legal parents for life, even if their child doesn't ever live with them again. Unless the child is readopted by someone else

The disruption rate is not really known. Figures are thrown around, especially 1 in 5. So 1 in 5 adoptions end in disruption at some point in the childs life. I think 1 in 5 is probably not too far out. It's lower than that when a child is adopted very young (although as those children reach teenagerhood things can still get very tricky). It's probably a bit higher than that for older child adoptions. But there are no accurate statistics kept.

Lilka Sun 08-Sep-13 11:59:13

Does it ever happen that it doesn't work out? ever? Do people un-adopt because for whatever reason the relationship just doesn't develop? Is that even allowed? It all seems so very complex and heart rending. On one hand i would think it unfair to a child to have them stay with a family if it wasn't working out but then it would be equally unfair (or even more so) for them to have to leave? I was really just wondering about that side of things, just curiosity and understand if you don't want to answer

Yes, sadly not all adoptions work out. No one can force a parent (any parent, birth or adoptive) to live with their child, and some children will be placed back into voluntary care. When a child goes back into care it's known as a 'disruption'. It's not normally just because of a lack of bonding/attachment - normally disruption happens when a child has serious emotional/behavioural issues which the parents find themselves unable to handle any longer. Disruption also happens more in some areas than others - disruption rates can be lessened by providing more support and not hiding information in the matching process etc.

My eldest daughter had an adoption disruption before I adopted her which yes, badly effected her. The placement just wasn't right for her and they couldn't cope with her needs. I don't think that's their fault mind you - both my older children have (or had in my adult DD's case) emotional behavioural and mental health issues. I chose to adopt children with these issues, but many parents who didn't think they could cope with such children find social services didn't tell them and hid information about the child from them. It's a recipe for disaster

In fact, in my worst moments in the first couple of years of DD1's placement I thought about disruption. Rarely, but it was so awfully hard living with her sometimes and I wasn't being supported properly. And I knew it was a terrible thing for a child to go through and I knew that if I disrupted DD would probably never recover.

If the parents can no longer cope then disruption will be the best thing for the child though

PacificDogwood Sun 08-Sep-13 11:39:43

I am another not-adopter and don't have superior knowledgy wrt to bonding and attachement when adopting.

Just felt the need to add that both don't necessarily happen as a sudden event for birth parents. And that it can be different from child to child for the same parents.

I too think adoption is a wonderful thing to do and I remember 'bonding' as a child with my new cousin (who arrived in my uncle's family when I was 8 and he was a few months old). I have no idea what my aunt and uncle felt (I was too young and anyway it was spoken about), but he just became part of the extended family with time.

I sometimes do fostering/adoption medicals and I always feel vaguely intrusive to have to ask the questions that are demanded. I hope will all have the family you want x.

LEMisdisappointed Sun 08-Sep-13 11:31:56

Can I just say - i think you are all wonderful people. I cannot imagine being able to do this so i have the utmost respect for those who do.

Does it ever happen that it doesn't work out? ever? Do people un-adopt because for whatever reason the relationship just doesn't develop? Is that even allowed? It all seems so very complex and heart rending. On one hand i would think it unfair to a child to have them stay with a family if it wasn't working out but then it would be equally unfair (or even more so) for them to have to leave? I was really just wondering about that side of things, just curiosity and understand if you don't want to answer.

allthingswillpass Sun 08-Sep-13 11:20:50

I've heard of indirect meetings - ie watch child in a park but have no personal experience.
We felt that as we read more about our little one, there were more and more things that were right for a match.
As Lilka said meeting the people who actually live with your child makes it all very real.

FamiliesShareGerms Sat 07-Sep-13 23:01:17

Oh, and I also think that if you don't find it all a bit peculiar and surreal to go overnight to being the parent of a child, there's something not quite right! It is bizarre, even more so than having a baby where at least you have the benefit of hormones to help you along the bonding process.

FamiliesShareGerms Sat 07-Sep-13 22:57:40

I've never heard of exceptions - our LA was very clear about not meeting a child until after the match has been approved at panel.

We saw photos of DD as part of the initial info pack and then a short video clip after we had decided to proceed. We made our decision after writing out a pros and cons list that included such trivial things as "she has a lovely name", but for me it was quite an instinctive decision (she just was my daughter) but less so for DH. We know couples who waited a long time after a match that fell through but came good in the end because they felt almost like they were cheating on a partner by looking at other profiles, that's how strong a connection they had had even just looking at a picture.

I guess it's a bit like meeting a partner - some people have a crash, bang, wallop, he's The One experience; some people only realise after years that actually they love their best friend. Ie it's different for everyone and in different circumstances.

I see that initial connection as the bond; attachment is more fundamental. It's the bit that means that when DD falls over and cries for me, it's because I am her mother and the primeval bit of us that cries for our mums when we are hurt has kicked in and she wants me. This takes time to build - for me and DD it was relatively quick, for DD and DH it took much much longer (and a period of me not being around so that the issue was almost forced).

Devora Sat 07-Sep-13 22:43:01

I've never heard of exceptions.

I saw photos and video of dd before agreeing to the match, and also met the foster carer. To be honest, I didn't ever have a sense of 'this is the one' - I'm not sure how much you can expect a SW to convey of a child's personality when they're six months old! So with younger babies, I think it's a more rational process of reading the child's background, health status, how they are developing and reaching milestones etc.

(Though I did have some strong responses to what we were told about birth parents. We got offered a match with a gorgeous baby girl whose backstory was so shocking, birth family the stuff of nightmares, that I didn't see how I could help her come to terms with it all. That wasn't the only reason we turned down the match - we were also in the middle of moving house and other stuff was going on - but I realised it was almost a relief to me that the timing wasn't right. But I should stress that this reaction wasn't to the child herself.)

I should also add the caveat that I am a very rational person, not romantic or intuitive, so I'm less likely to be guided by emotional response.

I wish I could promise you that you will know The One, that you will fall in love instantly and that will wash away any doubts or ambivalence. My experience was that that wasn't true - I felt ambivalent all through the process and throughout much of the first year after our daughter joined us. I felt similarly about my birth child, though, so that's just me smile

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