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Here are some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on adoption.

"Tips" for "getting it right"

(15 Posts)
excitedmamma Thu 06-Feb-14 22:08:30

Ok.. so we've got our Adoption Order grin grin

Fully understand that if possible, it'll be best that LO will 'always' have known that they are adopted... rather than a sit down, we've got something to tell you type of conversation..

LO has never lived with birth family.. came to us at <6 mths old...

Read a comment on here a few days ago (can't find it, or who it was from) that was from someone who'd adopted a 10mth old and at age 8, child was having counselling to cope with problems related to fact of being adopted. sad

We have 'Teazels' story book... a memory box, waiting on life story book, have no concerns about BP's (have met few times) and do not hold any negative feelings towards them (quite the opposite really ).

I know that LO will take lead from us... we are proud to have adopted and adore LO beyond belief.

Our agency do have (allegedly) a fab PAS, but nothing like hearing it from the real professionals...

What have you learnt.. what would you do (if anything) differently...

Guess we have to take their lead.. just knowing how much info to give and at what time is the fine line... many people giving us warnings that too much info too soon can cause problems...

Don't really know what I'm asking... just how do we make sure we don't f* it up for LO?

Thanks x

Italiangreyhound Thu 06-Feb-14 23:04:05

excitedmamma am not yet an adopter but did not want to read and run!

I think as a parent it is always a fear that you will f*ck it up!

I think others will be along to tell you more in time.

Can I just say, for me, one thing that is very important is age appropriate. Little kids can't take in much info and may need to be told more than once.

Can I give you a slightly amusing story from my birth dd?

When she was young, maybe about 5 or 6 I thought I had better give her a heads up about periods. She had seen panty liners in my bag and I feel it is best for these things not to be a shock later in life.

So I said that once a month something came out of a lady's vagina (using age appropriate language). I said what do you think it is?

She said........ (with a slightly west country accent, not sure where that came from)...

"I don't know, a tiger!"

I said "No, it's blood and it's all normal and not until you are older."

About two years later I had the same conversation with DD.

Once a month something came out of a lady's vagina (using age appropriate language). I said what do you think it is?

Answer... 'A tiger!'

I guess what I am saying is you may need to say things more than once and make them not too much of a big deal!

I find it easier to walk and talk or to drive when she is the back seat and we chat, so it is not so much of a big sit down and let's talk kind of thing.

Devora Thu 06-Feb-14 23:10:35

Congratulations on the adoption order smile

I started discussing adoption with dd when she was about 18 months (as instructed by social worker). I mainly did it by showing photos of birth parents and just acknowledging who they are. As she grew older I started offering basic info about what adoption is, and how our family came to get together. I think this approach has worked well but I wish I'd been better prepared for some of the ways children process information and piece together bits of evidence (for example, dd is currently saying she was adopted because she has brown skin).

Generally, I found the first couple of years with dd very draining (two children plus demanding job) and i wish I had got more support for myself so I could give more to her.

Next stage for me is to start taking dd to support groups where she can meet other adopted children, especially ones with brown skin, so she doesn't feel so alone.

hennalyn Sun 09-Feb-14 11:40:09

I was adopted by a single woman whom I thought was my real mom. Other members of the clan treated me differently because they knew that I was adopted. I used to wish that I had a father but no one told me the truth until I reached high school. I was hurt and felt rebellious at first and it took time for me to cope with the truth. I'm not really sure what is the right thing to do when adopting a child.

KristinaM Sun 09-Feb-14 11:47:45

Henna Lynn -I'm sorry to hear things were so hard for you.

the advice now is to tell your child that they were adopted from when they are very young, so they don't get the kind of shock you did when they are in high school .children should know ALL the facts about their adoption and background before puberty .

Also as you say, lots of other people will know that they are adopted ( friends , family, neighbours ) so it's only right that the child knows too,and learns about their adoption in an age appropriate way

Italiangreyhound Sun 09-Feb-14 11:57:15

hennalyn really sorry to hear of your experience. I hope things are better now.

Islagiatt Sun 09-Feb-14 12:13:43

Hi excited, I may be off on a tangent here, and didn't see the thread you refer to about the 8 year old. But would suggest that the problems referred to aren't' about the actual fact they are adopted, rather the whole range of issues it brings!

I have learnt so much in the last 5 years I fear I am able to hold my own in discussions with the professionals and am at a better place in understanding why they do what they do (although I struggle sometimes to always be so understanding!).

When babies are in the womb, we like to think that the birth mothers look after themselves and put their baby first. However, in less than perfect situations, birth mum may drink, do drugs, be stressed, ill, all at one go. It is has been shown that the stress hormone cortisol can affect the unborn child and this can affect brain development. So whilst at 6 months they may not 'remember', their brains do.

Then when born, instead of the calm, rocking lullaby singing peaceful world we would want for them, they frequently lack basic care and skills. For the first 12 weeks of life, the key period, they need to learn that as creatures they are safe, when they cry someone will come, when they are hungry they will be fed, and will survive. After the brain understands this, and only then, does the brain development of a baby move on to trying to move and exist as an independent being.

My son did not have this calm period of time, either before or post-birth, and I can see his brain can't calm, gets anxious and constantly seeks attention to prove he exists. He was (probably!) born with increased cortisol levels in the brain, and which his brain thinks is normal. So as he gets older he has sought out ways to get the cortisol (similar to a drug addict!) and so when I shout or get cross the cortisol is released and he gets his fix. But we are working really hard on bringing his levels down and so far so good. I have the best relationship I have ever had with him and he is doing much better. All because I now understand that his behaviour isn't just him being 'naughty' but because his very brain pathways are different. But they can be changed and built, and it is a question of going right back to basics and making him feel safe, secure and loved and then moving forward with all the other normal child development stuff.

Sorry, gone on too long, but I found I was able to cope with all the 'adoption' things I could see and am open with them about their early life experiences, but I have become a better mother because I understand what they need from me (and the world!).

Good luck x

Italiangreyhound Sun 09-Feb-14 13:02:33

Islagiatt that is very helpful.

You said "But we are working really hard on bringing his levels down and so far so good." Can you give some concrete examples without saying anything identifying to you, please? No worries not.

Islagiatt Sun 09-Feb-14 13:35:17

Hi Italian, for us its all about the breathing! He was/is very anxious which displays in constant chatter, attention seeking, making bad choices about behaviour or 'no peace in the child' as my gran would say.

Sounds a bit hippy dippy, but I read an article on mindfulness meditation and being 'mindful' of just sitting and breathing and thinking only about that. In fact that has turned to me understanding that the reason my son was up at stupid o'clock every morning wasn't because he wanted to torture disobey me, but that he wakes up very anxious and then can't rest. So we did deep breathing exercises (in for 5 out for 7) whilst saying he is safe, calm and loved in between breaths. The change has been transformational for us. He is calmer, is concentrating at school and has changed all our lives as so much less stress than before. A couple of times in the last few months I have even had to wake him up in a morning, something that I don't think has ever happened in his life as he was always awake from about 4/5am.

I try and praise him for when he does make good choices and I make sure not always! I don't shout and given him his cortisol 'fix' and we are slowly weaning him off and bringing his brain down from the ceiling back towards the floor where it should be.

excitedmamma Sun 09-Feb-14 13:39:26

thanks everyone & in particular Islagiatt... please.. go on!! That is fascinating stuff and I am so keen to hear of peoples difficulties/battles... forewarned is forearmed (I hope).

I guess the enormity of it all hits me at times and so many people advise different things.

I need to trust my instinct, I know my child best... and I can only do my best... but with talking with people in similar situations, I can learn....

Our SW advised us not to give too much too early (LO now 2).. some say wait til 4/5... I want them to 'just know' and she plays with some things that will become 'talking points'.

Italian your story made me smile, as her latest words are tampons, mummys bum !!! Oh what fun we are going to have when she starts school grin

Italiangreyhound Sun 09-Feb-14 15:21:14

Islagiattthat is fab, please so share more.

Excitedmamma so glad you are feeling good. You know your little one better than any.

One thing that has come out in my reading of things from people who were adopted as children is that they often felt they could not talk about things for fear of upsetting their adopted parents. I think it is wonderful if we (I am not yet an adoptive mum but hope to be soon) can create the space where it is OK to talk about it, or not, as the child wants. So they never feel it is a taboo subject, only (perhaps) that there are some times when it is easier to talk (in private etc rather than in the supermarket queue!).

Devora Sun 09-Feb-14 22:09:36

Imaginary, thanks much for posting that. It chimes so strongly with my experience with my daughter. Especially the bit about pushing for the cortisol fix. Add to that the extreme clinginess and fear of being left or alone - it sometimes feels like a ceaseless, frenzied push-and-pull. It is only lately that I have started to understand how my responses contribute to this dynamic, and I have a lot of work to do on that.

TeenAndTween Mon 10-Feb-14 14:37:57


Our youngest was 2.5 when placed, so older than yours.

We just kept dropping it into conversation:
- so glad we adopted you
- jesus in Mary's tummy at Christmas - you came out of XXX's tummy
- anniversary of moving in day
- story in the bath, ..once there was a girl ...mum couldn't look after her .... etc

She wasn't ready for much in the way of details until she was 8.

excitedmamma Mon 10-Feb-14 14:58:23

thanks TeenandTween....

Can I ask how you think she has handled the whole concept of adoption?

Have you ever thought she has 'misunderstood' things?

Just really interested to know how people have seen their kids accept or struggle with the concept...

TeenAndTween Mon 10-Feb-14 17:08:25

excited I think DD2 understands in a reasonably age-appropriate way. She has come home from school a few times in the last year asking questions such as 'why did BM abandon me' (which isn't what happened), obviously in response to comments/questions from friends.

Sometimes she says she misses BM, but we aren't sure whether she does miss (the concept of) BM, or whether this is learned behaviour from DD1 who was 8 when they were placed and has a very clear memory of time in the birth family. Due to DD1 we have always talked very openly about adoption.

I do think that DD2 accepts the concept of adoption. We talk about it in the context of family and friends (single parents, step parents etc etc) so hopefully it doesn't feel too strange to her. We also go to SS organised adoption events like discos.

DD2 won't write contact letters (she says it makes her too sad, though it may be because she's not that keen on writing in general). She will draw a picture though.

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