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I read this today 'How adopting an angelic five-year-old blew our family apart', it's in the daily mail but I felt it was interesting to ask what could have been done differently and by whom?

(111 Posts)
Italiangreyhound Wed 01-Jan-14 22:18:38

I read this today 'How adopting an angelic five-year-old blew our family apart', it's in the daily mail but I felt it was interesting to ask what could have been done differently and by whom?

Sorry if this article is upsetting for anyone, it is not posted for that reason. Just looking for comments and ideas on how things could be done differently, and hopefully are done differently in some places.

bibbetybobbityboo Thu 02-Jan-14 17:09:13

As a potential adopter currently researching the possibility I am horrified at stories like this. Is this really what it's like? We have a birth daughter and with each story I read like the one in the op I am more convinced I want to adopt and less convinced I'm up to the job. I want a child for my own selfish reasons, I want to give my daughter a sibling, I want another child but I don't want to destroy my family in the process. I am prepared for hard work, for parenting differently, for a bumpy ride but I'm really not sure I'm prepared to put my family at risk.

bibbetybobbityboo Thu 02-Jan-14 17:19:13

I should add the 'is this really what it's like' is aimed at the lack of support not at the child's behaviour. Although the escalation of the behaviour due to lack of early intervention is the saddest part in all of these stories.

sunshinemmum Thu 02-Jan-14 17:53:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ghostinthecanvas Thu 02-Jan-14 18:03:54

While there seems to be similarities with ASD, I am sure your son is not getting some part of what you are teaching him. With RAD, the children know what to do. They choose not to do things. That difference is important. I am not disrespecting your child, nor the difficulties of repetitively teaching him the basics but the sheer frustration of knowing your child is more than capable of doing things is difficult to get across really. Hard enough in rl, never mind writing about it on here.

TheCurseOfFenric Thu 02-Jan-14 18:16:12

Ghost, I'm sorry but that isn't true. My dd also has ASD, and most of her manipulative behaviour centres on doing/not doing what she shouldn't/should.

Off the top of my head (and a not particularly serious example behaviourally, although it will impact on her independence as she gets older) she currently gets very jealous if I do homework with dd2 - particularly maths for some reason. If I agree to do some with her too, I get a lot of blank looks and cries of 'it's difficult' when I ask her to do simple arithmetic (eg number bonds up to 10). I know that at school she is doing double column addition inc carrying a number, so much more complicated and involved sums. But she refuses to engage at home, while simultaneously wailing to 'do maths'. All attention seeking, and a negative behaviour spiral. Which I face daily, on top of a million other behaviours.

The laying the table exams sounds hauntingly familiar to me too. Dd1 also can't put her clothes in the laundry basket, or remember where she has left her favourite comfort toy (although de can manage to 'look' everywhere but where it actually is!)

Dd1 was famous, within our local ed psych team, when she was younger as every time they tried to test her cognitive understanding by eg asking her to name the animal, she would instead tell ten what it wasnt - a long list of 'it's not a dinosaur/lion/chimpanzee' etc, without ever answering the question. Thus rendering her 'untestable' as she wouldn't cooperate, which left us high and dry when it came to arranging support at school for her. It would, of course, leave her in fits of laughter, and was done entirely deliberately.

I completely understand te sher frustration side - she was written off at 4 years old as 'uneducatable' because of these behaviours. We had to fight very long and very hard to get our views (that she was able and more capable than she was letting on) seriously.

TheCurseOfFenric Thu 02-Jan-14 18:17:34

Excuse typos, am on phone as am curled up on sofa with a poorly dd2!

ghostinthecanvas Thu 02-Jan-14 18:40:32

I am corrected then Fenric. I suppose we all get sucked into the stereo typing of things. Because DS2 (as we will forever think of him) was a champion non answerer of questions. As is DS4 now that I think of it. The homework now is like that. DS2 did his no problem. He taught himself to read fluently by age 4 so, except when he didn't, he did his homework. Iykwim. Your description is very similar to some of DS2. Cept for the jealousy bit. He didn't do feelings. At all. Triumph maybe, even that I don't think was as important as control. Used to say rules were for other people.

Lilka Thu 02-Jan-14 19:09:59

buster51 I hear you! First of all, you are NOT crazy or imagining things. You can read your own son better than any of your relatives or friends can, and if your instincts and the way he acts is giving you the feeling 'this is deliberate, to try to get a reaction/test me' then you are in all likelihood completely right

Of all the things to test and have issues with, I'm pretty sure affection and interaction with parents has to be one of the most common

I'm single so I've never dealt with any 'two parent' issues like this. Because this involves both of you, you and your DH IMHO should sit down and work out what your strategy is going to be together. It doesn't matter what your friend thinks, but it's far far better if you and your DH are on the same page. Does he understand this behaviour? If so, great. A united front is really helpful.

With the little deliberate behaviours - I've always seen them as caused by her emotional issues and what she's going through, not just naughtiness. The control issues and the getting pleasure out of button pushing...I've found that if you frustrate it in one form eg. you manage to stop your child doing x, then it will manifest itself in a different way and your child will start doing y instead. Only a change on a deeper emotional level/progress with attachment etc, will result in lots of progress with outward behaviour issues

However, that didn't mean that I didn't try and deal with the little things at all! I did it wrong at first (I had no clue about alternate parenting strategies) but eventually I realised that natural consequences applied without shouting and showing lots of emotion were the most effective way of dealing with it. Also - battle picking.

Break a plate - you pay for it, you clean it up. "Forget" to clean the toilet and leave it all dirty - you go back and clean it, and clean the other loo as well. Etc. I never made a big deal out of those behaviours, but praised the good, and forgot about the bad once the natural consequences were imposed

Affection is a bit harder because it's not so easily ignored - I mean, it hurts if your child is rejecting you for the other parent.

But maybe you could try - Daddy deliberately turns his hugs into 'family hugs' instead and invites you in? Or you totally ignore it, or praise him for it? I'll think about it for you

sunshinemmum Thu 02-Jan-14 19:17:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Thepoodoctor Thu 02-Jan-14 19:19:29

I've been trying to organise my thoughts about this all day and failing, so forgive me if this remains rather random.

Bibbety - I have two adopted DC. One has significant difficulty, one is so far so good. I adore them both and they are the two best things that ever happened to me.

I think a fair summation of the picture of modern adoption is that most kids will have some difficulties whether that be through attachment, inherited learning disabilities, ASD, FAS, etc. A significant minority will be basically fine with perhaps the odd wobble. A further significant minority will end up in these extreme situations and that is I think more likely though not inevitable in children who have had the most difficult histories of neglect and abuse.

Have you read 'no Matter What?' by Sally Donovan? To me that's a much more helpful story for a prospective adopter of a family who had significant difficulties - not as bad as this family but pretty hairy - and made it through.

I am so proud to have adopted my children and feel utterly privileged to be their mother. I would advocate for adoption any day of the week. That said, I think we need to recognise in preparation that the children who have had the most difficult histories are likely to need the most skilled and resilient adoptive parents - and maybe we don't recruit the right people for that job, and don't train and support those we recruit anywhere near adequately?

We have had a lot of support for DS and I am so grateful for that. But what really carries us through is the fierce love I feel for him and the reciprocal emotion from him (which took years to build).

That's what gives me the strength to work through all his difficulties. It must be very hard if a child is unable to give you that at any stage.

Ramble grin

Lagoonablue Thu 02-Jan-14 19:20:15

Adopted child is damaged? Now there is a suprise........not saying more support would have helped but people need to know just how difficult the children can be. Think of the lives they've had before.

Thepoodoctor Thu 02-Jan-14 19:29:14

Sunshine - there is a massive crossover between attachment issues and ASD for many children. Neglect and trauma impacts the developing brain in ways that are pretty permanent and end up looking a lot like ASD.

And also living in chaotic circumstances can very easily mask an undiagnosed ASD, for both parent and child ...

Many adopted kids start out with diagnosis of attachment issues and end up with an ASD diagnosis. Jury is absolutely out on what DS will end up with!

I think there is a problem for some kids in that attachment based diagnoses are somehow kept separate from other diagnoses - for me it would be very helpful to have more joined up support that recognises that many of our kids have multiple issues that benefit from input from many different sources!

sunshinemmum Thu 02-Jan-14 19:58:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Italiangreyhound Thu 02-Jan-14 19:59:50

I must correct myself! Apologies. I said to adopt a child and then have to effectively 'send them back' they did not send their daughter back but looked for an alternative accommodation for her. I think that must be very, very difficult. She is legally still their daughter.

I did watch a documentary about a family where one of the children had autism, a very difficult form that made it impossible for him to live with the family once he was older (and quite large). The family found a place for him to live where he could be really well cared for and he seemed very happy but the mum was very sad.

I think whether adoption or birth brings a child into a family a parent has to do what is best for the child and the family as a whole (and the parents sanity if that would be damaged). I am very sorry if my post implied anything different.

whattousetoday Thu 02-Jan-14 20:08:27

I took in a damaged child who went onto abuse my own children. I will pay the financial and emotional cost for the rest of my life.

I can't work as I am too anxious about leaving my children's with others and although I am happy in my world - I don't even go to Tescos unless my husband is in carpark

On the surface - I look perfectly happy and indeed to a degree I am.

But iso wish I had realised what I was potentially exposing my children too.

LadyRainicorn Thu 02-Jan-14 20:24:31

Not to derail the thread but I recently read an article summing up a recent research finding on autism - the author proposed that all/most children with autism diagnoses had more neural connections than normal and so were constantly suffering from sensory overload. Because this was happening to them from birth, during the normal attachment and bonding windows they fail to make the necessary attachments and end up with very similar problems to children suffering from attachment disorders.

Just thought posters here might be interested to know given the discussion above re asd and rad.

Lilka Thu 02-Jan-14 20:49:16

That's very interesting LadyRainicorn thanks

Completely agree that there's a lot of behavioural overlap and signs between lots of diferent conditions and of course children can have more than one disorder/condition. It makes picking it apart very difficult - sometimes you don't even know and won't ever know what's causing x or y. Quite a few of the behaviours with autism and attachment disorder are very similar, although some are different, but a big difference is the underlying cause of the problems, autism being a born-with condition, and attachment disorder being caused by something. Some of the parenting strategies to deal with it in the home are similar, but if it's actually RAD then therapy of some kind is also going to be needed, and that's where the support is seriously lacking. Sadly (side note) I've seen and heard (and read on MN!) parents being told by schools or other people with no business doing it, that their childs problems are probably attachment issues/disorder. Crazy. Of course the parents feel really upset because they feel the school/busybody is implying that they are abusive/neglectful.

devilinside Thu 02-Jan-14 20:54:57

Lady that is really interesting and explains so much, I recognise most of the behaviour Alex was displaying from DS who has ASD. However, as he gets older, it is becoming more obvious that he is doing much of it on purpose.

Hels20 Thu 02-Jan-14 21:00:04

Lilka - if you don't mind me asking, how many years after your DD1 did you feel she had an attachment to you? She is such a success story - building her own family now, with a DH and 2 children - and she also volunteers that she did things in the past to wind you up?

When do you feel you have an attachment? I mean, I totally love our DS but during the day, he does push me away a fair bit (although at night time he can't stop kissing me and hugging me round the neck. Why always at night time??! DS is 2.5)

Hels20 Thu 02-Jan-14 21:01:44

Sorry meant to say - if too personal, then of course I understand. But - being new to adoption (and motherhood) and having done a fair amount of reading myself, I am curious about when people felt they had an attachment and how they knew?

Lilka Thu 02-Jan-14 21:17:22

No I don't mind answering

First of all there was my loving her. It took me well over a year to feel real strong love for her, but by the time we finalised (she was 12 at the time) I unconditionally loved her. But on her end I felt our relationship was getting deeper and more trusting when she was about 15 and she told me she thought she loved me when she was 16. So maybe 5 years+ on her end. Our relationship got better and better from there. I just don't think she truly believed i would never send her away until she was 17/18 and too old for 'care' and she wobbled when she moved out but then realised that she was always welcome back and this was still her home.

She behaved differently. Less controlling, more seeking out comfort from me, much more telling me how she felt, but it was also her body language and voice when we spoke or had a cuddle. Those subtle little things said to me or showed me, meant a lot. I felt that she was feeling some affection or something on the inside when we hugged. She was visibly more relaxed round me and with me.

I'm often amazed by her honesty. Like her willingness now to talk about the things she did 16 years ago and her willingness to say that she did/didn't love me.

Although she had attachment issues and PTSD, she never had full blown RAD/attachment disorder and if she had had RAD things would not have turned out like they have IMHO. Her next in age sister does have RAD and she's never attached to her adoptive parents sad

bassingtonffrench Thu 02-Jan-14 21:56:10

Buster i was quite touched by your story as this happened to me with my biological son. I feel we have come out the other side now so I thought it might help you to know that you are not alone and also it can pass.

My DS2 has had some medical problems and has many, many ASD traits, whilst also being quite socially sophisticated. This seemed to negatively affect his attachment to me in his toddler years. His babyhood was fine, breastfed, attachment parenting etc. But as a toddler and preschooler he constantly rejected me in favour of his father, exactly in the manner you describe.

I did some research on this at the time and it seem it is not uncommon for toddlers to do this. But somehow DS2 seemed to get stuck at this stage, probably because of his ASD tendencies.

We worked out that control was very important to him. I began to look for opportunities to say yes. for example I would take him to charity shops and he could pick anything he wanted. I avoided places where I would have to say no - like expensive shops! I abandoned all discipline except the most basic things. I ignored all advice from parents of 'normal' children.

Things improved. his behaviour can still be disturbing, for example he talks about killing himself as a sort of 'joke', but mostly our family life is joyful. He does occasionally regress into rejecting me, especially in social situations with extended family, which can be embarrassing, but mostly things are fairly equal now. He is now 6

I don't have an adopted child but I think that Lilkas advice sounds right based on my experience.

I really hope things work out for you.

Italiangreyhound Thu 02-Jan-14 23:34:20

Listening to various people's experiences I wonder if there is any pressure group to get better help for all children who have difficulties whether ADS or attachment or anything else? It seems that health care, education and children which would help with issues such as these is so limited. I have read lots of people on here talk about problems with support through adoption and in real life my friends who have children with ASD or mental health issues just talk about teachers not really understanding and support being very difficult to access. Is there are pressure group for advocating for children?


Italiangreyhound Thu 02-Jan-14 23:35:17

sorry - health care, education and support which would help with issues such as these is so limited.

Buster51 Fri 03-Jan-14 09:42:26

Lilka, yes DH doesn’t understand what is happening (now) and we are trying to deal with it together, however I still feel like were not completely on the same page, as he only notices the really ‘obvious’ attempts to get at me, and not that it is in fact a lot of our day! So DS is forever just getting all of the attention he is craving from him (it is also very fake and animated I must stress), as well as the action of ‘hurting’ me. So to me this feels like a win win situation from DS point of view? Speaking to his FC she said to address this behaviour, as he is perfectly capable of understanding what he is doing, they used to use time out, we’ve tried this, but if we are completely honest I really do not think he cares less about being put in time out.

SW is coming today so hopefully she can provide some insight – however she last advised to ignore it, which I am really finding hard to do! Even if I vocally ignore it my body language speaks a thousands words (just me as a person!) so I really feel I need some help with this. His FC and previous SW must have had their files and known he had issues like this but none of this information was passed onto us, I have chased for several weeks for all of the information. Thinking back we were told pretty much nothing at all about him, we have been on no training courses and have not been informed that such issues even existed. If I had known at least I could have prepared myself.
I realise what needs to change is on a deeper and emotional level – but how exactly do I work towards that? Sorry if I am asking the obvious here but what would be a natural consequence in this situation?

I have tried phrasing them both for it when they are together, I have tried ignoring it, We’ve tried making it into a family game to include mummy, they have all failed to be honest, possibly because he still knows that it hurts me.

Bassingtonffrench – thank you for your response, it is interesting to hear this can occur biologically. We have been advised this is likely a control issue, if that is the case then previous FC techniques and advise is probably going to have the opposite effect on him?? It is really embarrassing when he does it in social situations, as he makes a point of showing everyone else in the room how upset he is to be close to me. Something he never does on our own. At the moment he doesn’t talk about negative things as such like in your example, but I can see it headed that way as he gets older, he will play with his toys and say hurtful things about mummy, or sometimes directly at me, when DH went out yesterday it was the 1st time he’d approached me to play with me, it was our usual game of playing on my back, he was even being rather rough with his knees into my back! He is very aware of all of his actions, both bad and overly good, I am really lost with what to do sad

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