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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.

Buster5187 Tue 23-Feb-16 11:15:26

Agreed MrsH. We were not prepared with our expectations, not one bit. We had no training at all, before, during or after. So we weren't informed of any 'horror stories', went into this completely in the dark.
The word 'attachment' meant nothing to me. Even now, because of how compliant our boy is a lot of his issues are overlooked. I think for new adopters, quite sadly so, you have to be prepared to really chase and hassle people for help. That is what I've found in my experience. Over two years in, and we still haven't received any of this, but we are hopefully on the cusp of receiving some sort of help soon. Also, don't doubt yourself (easy for me to say when I still do!) many will try to play down any issues as so many of you have mentioned 'they all do that' gets really old, and irritating.

High Five back Tldr ! definitely will keep a note of those thereaplays mentioned Kew, and thank you Italian smile

MrsHLoves Tue 23-Feb-16 10:39:24

Eyes wide open is definitely the key, and having shoulders of steel to deal with others opinions. As Kewcumber says, the 'Oh they all do that' people are infuriating but that will always be the case sadly.
We went through the adoption training and rightly so, they do show you worst case scenarios. And luckily for us, because of it, felt prepared as we could be for it.

Our DS does have quite extreme issues, including RAD and I really can relate to the original article that this thread refers to. I've seen some posts here about the gap between the adopters expectations and the reality. Let's be honest, we all want to be happy, so I suppose there is expectation in that, but we also have to be aware that life throws crap at you. Especially if you choose to adopt which as we know is not the 'conventional' way to have children. Therefore bringing up an adopted child is not 'conventional' either.

Our precious little boy does not trust, is ridiculously hyper vigilant, controls, manipulates and goes into fight or freeze mode when he feels under attack. Both at home and school. He is registered disabled due to his behaviours and has a full statement and full-time key-worker at school. All of which has happened because we have fought tooth and nail.
None of it is an easy ride, all of it so worth while as we get to watch this little scared boy slowly grow into a more confident and happy child.
He has so far to go, as do we, with many 'new' problems ahead but we made that choice, he did not.

Anyone in the early stages of adoption, do go in with some expectations, otherwise what's the point in life? We have to have hope in everything we do. But do not go in blinkered because it's bloody hard work.

tldr Tue 23-Feb-16 09:31:39

Choco, my DD has moderate issues. You'd never know though. It means we parent her a bit differently than we would have done otherwise, but that's it. That means other people judge us, but they can piss off. It took us a while to figure out what works, but for now she's thriving. She's happy, we're happy, she's a delight and I adore her.

My point being that even when there are issues, they're not necessarily the horror you imagine. But they could be and you do need to have your eyes open, not least because if your eyes are wide open you're far more likely to be able to avoid/mitigate some of the problems.

<high fives Buster because we've travelled the same road simultaneously>

Italiangreyhound Tue 23-Feb-16 00:32:56

poppystellar excellent post.

Chocogoingcuckoo Tue 23-Feb-16 00:23:53

I use the word normal very loosely but probably expanding to say not so common/extreme experiences as that in the article would have been better. Thanks for sharing your experience.

poppystellar Mon 22-Feb-16 23:58:59

Choco I'm not sure there's any such thing as normal! All children waiting for adoption have suffered loss and rejection. Many have suffered abuse and trauma too. As an adoptive parent you need to be able to cope with how this might manifest itself in your child's behaviour.

Adopting my DD was the best thing I have ever done, she is gorgeous and wonderful and loving but always at the back of mind is the knowledge that she will always need more loving, more support, more care, more time, more patience than a 'normal' (knowing no such thing as 'normal' actually exists) child because of the crap she had to deal with before she came to me.

I'm sure you are going into the adoption process with your eyes open. There are some horror stories around, and in my limited experience the social workers certainly share lots of the worst case scenarios with you at the prep stage. But this is because they have to. As an adoptive parent you have to be prepared to acknowledge the potential 'worsts' that might arise. They might never happen but if they do you've got to be able to cope with them.

From other adoptive families I know I would say the best thing you can do for your child is acknowledge their adoption and the impact this might have on them now or in the future. The worst thing you can do is shut your eyes and cross your fingers and kind of hope it never comes up.

I would say I have been really lucky with my adoption experience. I think and hope my DD would say the same but this is not to gloss over the fact there have been lots (and lots) of times when it has been really bloody hard and I have cursed the inadequate adults who let my daughter down, made her anxious, scared and hypervigilant, made her unable to sleep on her own for fear of what might happen, made her scared of loud noises, made her wonder if she really deserved to be loved, and who still continue to have a negative impact on my gorgeous girl long after they have been removed from her life.

Adoption is wonderful and joyous and fulfilling (hopefully for both parents and child). Yes be prepared for the worst but make time to enjoy the best too. There will be lots of best times, even in the darkest moments. Best of luck with it all.

Kr1stina Mon 22-Feb-16 23:32:41

What do you mean by normal ?

I think that about 60% of adopted children have moderate difficulties, 20% have no significant problems and 20% have severe problems .

Chocogoingcuckoo Mon 22-Feb-16 23:25:45

We're in stage 1 of adopting. The prep groups were full of these stories, horrific for the children (terrifying for the potential adopters). Surely this isn't the "normal" experience?

Italiangreyhound Mon 22-Feb-16 16:38:49

It's interesting that an old thread can still have some relevant factors.

Best wishes to all and hugs to Buster and your boy.

MrsHLoves Mon 22-Feb-16 16:17:21

Hey Buster, we have fought long and hard for support post adoption. Our DS has had virtually weekly sessions of Theraplay since he joined us, but with a SS, not an officially trained Therapist. This has had no effect on his behaviours and tbh, all he saw it as was a chance to play with no boundaries and get treats? We have now finally been told that DS will receive official Theraplay and family therapy via CAMHS so we keep our fingers crossed.
As you all say - trust your instincts as it's a long hard battle to be listened to by professionals and believed by those closer to home.

Kewcumber Mon 22-Feb-16 15:59:22

DS starts drama therapy next week (though I have pointed out he is quite dramatic already) I would think drama or play therapy would be quite helpful for a child who keeps too much inside.

Kewcumber Mon 22-Feb-16 15:58:14

I think resurrecting old threads randomly should be enforced as it does make you look back and realise how much you spotted and how the "oh they all do that"'ers didn't know what they were talking about.

Kr1stina Mon 22-Feb-16 15:29:18

I agree buster, you are doing the right thing to demand support for your son. I hope this makes you trust your own instincts, you knew that there were issues right from the start . And you rights they won't just magically disappear with the passage of time .

Buster5187 Mon 22-Feb-16 09:31:12

Wow, I was reading through this thinking 'this all rings a bell to me!' then realised the date.

I have to say, DS still has some of the issues I mentioned back then. Especially what Lilka said 'she would rather her children have the tantrums etc' DS does not, at all. He recently actually said to me "I hold my feelings inside, and deal with them in private" - he is 6. Never shouts, tantrums, just tears. We have finally, very recently managed to get the ball rolling with some sort of after adoption support - what that will be yet, we don't know. But we do feel we / he needs it.

We also still get the occasional 'behaviours' when DH is home. Luckily now, not so much, and DH notices it too (so it isn't a case of me just going mad!).

BUT reading through this was a real eye opener for me, as to how far we have come in many respects, but really how much the major 'issues' back then, are still there today. It does make me feel I am doing the right think pushing (still) for some sort of support.

MrsHLoves Sun 21-Feb-16 23:15:22

Italiangreyhound........Loving yes, patient.....sometimes!
Life is hard for us parents to take such a challenge but not as hard as it is for the kids who don't make the choice to be adopted. I don't claim to have it any harder than most - it's life isn't it. I cry and scream and can't cope like the best of them. But every now and then a good hard reality check is necessary for us all.
Attachment disorder's effects can be tantamount to bullying and it's bloody hard to be the brunt of it but we're the adults. It's about time they learnt that we can be trusted and make good choices for them.
Lots of love to all of you out there going through similar.

Italiangreyhound Sun 21-Feb-16 21:46:14

MrsHLoves you sound like a very patient and loving mum. I am sorry it is so hard. Bless you. (I was looking to see who started a thread with such a long name, and it was me!!!)

MrsHLoves Sun 21-Feb-16 00:29:12

Hi all,
I'm new to this site and realise I'm posting quite late in the game with this thread.
However the issue of attachment disorder will unfortunately continue, way past the trend of this thread! smile

I am an adoptive Mum of a DS. Nearly 5 years down the line and I have come to realise that the issues both DS experiences and impresses on others, plus the affect this has on both adoptive parents, and in time, teachers is extreme. I really can relate and sympathise with 'Buster51'.

It is relentless and however much therapeutic parenting you do, love, patience and understanding you have, it is painful to be rejected, ridiculed, manipulated, watched, belittled, spied on and 'hated'.
Please don't get me wrong, our child is a beautiful person. He is kind, empathetic, caring and fun. But he does have a darker side that surfaces when he is threatened, scared, angry or hyper vigilant which unfortunately is more often than not. We experience anger, rage, violence, fear, night terrors and controlling to the ninth degree (that continues daily), and as you say Buster51, it is the small detail, the daily grind of manipulation that hurts.

Other adults in his life, who he is not attached to, do not get attachment disorder and believe he adores them and write off his behaviours as 'normal' in earnest to save themselves dealing with the reality of his motivations. They do not see nor do they want to deal with, what is going on in his little mind that has been traumatised at an early age. I have learnt that most adults would rather his behaviour be 'normal' so they can cope better with it than deal with the reality of his history.

There is hope though. He progresses each day....softly softly, catchee a monkey! Patience, love, consistency and time do make a difference, albeit slowly.
I am pushed off my bike less each week! I am told less that I am not as good as Daddy, there is less splitting, less 'looks' aimed at me from behind a door as he starts mayhem and I am hit less each day!
I have hope. I believe he is a good kind and precious child that needs our support and perseverance, with a few hurdles on the way, for the rest of his life.
It is so hard and I have fallen on many occasions trying. But I will carry on because he is worth it.

crazeekitty Fri 07-Feb-14 13:08:54

Ah lilka. My dd sounds just like your dd did. In fact, much of the behaviour in the mail article is what I see minute by minute and hour by hour. No cruelty to animals or children but the increasingly desperate and inventive ways to seek attention.

What could those parents have done differently? I don't know but I do know I was given plenty of training what you might expect with an ac but I wasn't prepared for all of it coming in one bundle in my house at once. Maybe ss didn't know enough to tell me. In hindsight I think they alluded to things which weren't made explicit. I think that moving a child from fc to an adoptive family peels back layers and layers of emotion that have been buried... Often just to survive in chaotic environments. When they start to surface then stand by!

My dd doesn't say she has another voice in her head (great bit of sensational reporting there) but she talks about having different parts of her brain telling her different things. It's just child speak for saying she's in a massive muddle about things.

What could they have done differently? Probably nothing except stick it out, which would be a difficult decision to make when another child is being affected.

Best advice? Don't scare yourself reading unbalanced articles in a flimsy rag. Good for debate but not for a reasonable account. That wouldn't sell papers

eightytwenty Thu 06-Feb-14 22:20:26

Stumbled on this in active conversations. Heartbreaking stories. Why is there a policy to keep kids with their birth parents so that so much damage can be done?

whatrousetoday - I can't imagine what you must have gone through. I'm not sure if anyone else picked up on your comment though - perhaps someone else has been through similar and can help...

HollyHB Thu 06-Feb-14 20:09:10

I read the newspaper article. The book was published in 2008 and seems to cover roughly a ten year period so Alex will now be an adult (assuming she is still alive).
The thing that occurred to me immediately was "Did anyone take the trouble to track down Michelle when Alex was a teenager?".

It could be that 10 years later Michelle might have completely turned her life around and would be delighted to have her teenage daughter back in her life. People change enormously over a ten year period (I know my ex did hah!). And reunification with Michelle just might be the thing that Alex so wanted and would not tell anyone. Michelle might be the one and only person in the world to whom she might attach. Of course that would mean social services having to admit they made a mistake.

Too late now of course. All water under the bridge.

ghostinthecanvas Wed 08-Jan-14 09:16:39

Morning all.
Oblomov, it is like a dripping tap, some days you hear it and other days you can zone out. So hard. Though as we are talking bath water, possibly not the best analogy! wink One of the things I find very difficult is the fact that we know the problem and it doesn't make it easier to get through the day. We know our children are functioning differently. Mostly we are lucky enough to know why. But it is still so hard.
I think of the word spectrum and it makes me think of rainbows. I then just apply that to my children. What colour are they today. Yellow = ok, red = let's get through it. That way labels are less important. Maybe that seems a strange way to approach it but it is one of the things that works for me. Most days anyway.

Italiangreyhound Tue 07-Jan-14 22:58:02

Sorry - typo - Nananina Can I just say you put me in with the adopters... I'm not yet one!

Italiangreyhound Tue 07-Jan-14 22:56:52

Oblomov I am so sorry if my post about not thinking the bath water was a big deal. I have no idea, you are right. My dd is a quite difficult but not very difficult and I have no idea what the problems are. It is through Mumsnet and the support and knowledge of posters here that I am learning, very slowly, about all the myriad of problems that children and parents can experience. So I am very sorry if I offended you, but we are all (I think) here to learn and try and make sense of children, and that was one thing that did not make sense for me. But I stand corrected.

Nananina thanks for your wisdom. Can I just say put me in with the adopters, which is very flatettering, but I am not yet an adopter. I am a birth mum and approved to adopt.

I (for one) am finding this thread very helpful and so thank you again to all who contribute.

Oblomov Tue 07-Jan-14 16:51:42

I have not adopted. I have ASD ds1, whom it was once suggested might have RAD. The tiredness it brings. The lack of support. The fatc that no one believes you and most people think I am a nutter (munchausens) - the cutlery and the constant water out of the bath - some posters were very flippant and dismissive about he clothes back to front and the bath water - that just goes to show that you have NO IDEA - god it IS those bits that are the absolute killer. I hope you never live to find out.

NanaNina Tue 07-Jan-14 16:29:48

Me again - just meant to say that the most valuable support for a child with attachment difficulties is play therapy but this is expensive. I think though that you should request LAs fund this therapy. You will find lists of Approved Play Therapists if you google. This therapy is non directed and the children are allowed to play with whatever they like, and the therapist will only intervene if the child is becoming destructive. There is usually a sand tray, play figures, dolls, houses, cars, trains etc. Children will often "play out" their fears in this way as they are far too young to be able to make any use of "talking therapies."

I have a close friend who is a play therapist and she says the thing that comes out most in the children is anger, sometimes throwing soft toys on the floor, mixing sand and water into mud and smothering it over the face of the doll. One child repeatedly bashed the doll's head against the wall, (it was a soft doll) shouting "bastard" several times and then lay on the floor and sobbed.

This isn't a cure of course as there isn't one, but it does allow children to express through play some of their innermost emotions. She also teaches adoptive parents how to spend an hour or so each day just letting the child play with the toys and be "with him" in the sense of sitting near, but not interfering, and after a while the child can in some cases start to show his emotions through play.

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