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Would I be able to cope?

(20 Posts)
hackneylady Tue 04-Mar-14 11:37:37

Hello. I'd really appreciate some input and advice. My partner and I are thinking about adopting. I think in many ways we'd have a lot to offer, but I worry about my own ability to cope.

I'm not one of life's more relaxed people. I can tend to get a bit stressed (for instance, by work) and have had a few episodes of anxiety throughout my life. Looking at the experiences some of you have had, I worry about being faced with a situation with a very challenging child that I just couldn't cope with. I would absolutely hate to let down a child who had already had a lot of loss and sadness in life, and I suppose I worry about being responsible for a disruption, which would be the worst possible outcome.

At the same time, I know it would be wrong and a bit mad if I DIDN'T have doubts and worries, because that would mean that I wasn't thinking it through properly. To be clear - I cope fine with life in general. I have great friends, a challenging job, and a good and full life. But I feel I've got weak spots.

So I guess my question is ...how did you know you had the strength and resilience to be able to take on whatever the experience might throw at you. And did you feel that you were especially resilient and therefore able to cope?

Thanks for reading.

Fusedog Tue 04-Mar-14 11:55:12

I am Afraid your not going to like my answer

you cant the thing with parenting any kind birth child , fostering adoption you simply won't know your up to the task util the children get there*

The most worried nervous adopters turn out to have just the right stuff as people who were very sure can end up disrupting it's not much help for the children but I don't there there is any one quality or thing you can put your finger on that would make a good adopter

I guess if you can get a child to 18 alive , well fed and still talking to you that's a win and anything else is bonus

But the long and short you won't know how warm the water is unless you dip your toe in

NanaNina Tue 04-Mar-14 12:08:13

Well I'm not an adoptive parent but a retired social worker/manager of a LA Fostering & Adoption team, with a career spanning some 30 years.

I absolutely agree with you that it would be worrying if you didn't have doubts, and I always worried about people who appeared over confident and not really listening to some of the realities of adopting.

Can you say a little more about these periods of anxiety - have you been on meds/needed to take time off work - how bad were these bouts and was it just generalised anxiety disorder. I ask this because all applicants have to have a medical with their own GP and then these forms are sent to the Medical Advisor for the LA and he/she makes an assessment of whether anyone is "medically fit" to foster. Anxiety is a tricky one because of course the whole process of adoption beforehand and after can be a very anxiety provoking business and there might be a concern that adoption could increase your anxiety which would not be good for the child.

As far as your last question is concerned, my guess would be that no-one knows whether they have the emotional strength and resilience to cope with adoption (or anything else for that matter) until it actually happens. Many adopters go through a period of stress and uncertainty after the adoption while the adjust to the child and often don't tell social workers at the time - they used to tell us once they had bonded with the child.

You don't mention children so not sure if you have children. If not it is slightly more difficult as you won't have had the experience of coping with birth children who go through difficult stages, but many adopters don't have their own children so it isn't really a stumbling block. Are you single as you don't mention a husband or partner.

Do you mind saying why you want to adopt - and what age of child you are considering. You probably know that there are not many young babies available for adoption and the need is for older children (over 5's) sibling groups and children with disabilities. Having said that it all depends on the need of the LA and many adopters are able to adopt a child under 5 and sometimes as young as under 2 or 3.

The thing is you can talk to the LA about adoption and find out what the need is generally and this might take you further forward. If applicants are perceived as reasonable to adopt they are invited on to a preparation course where the important issues are discussed. There is no commitment at this stage and in fact there isn't any commitment until you actually take a child, so you could take some further steps without too much worry about whether you will be able to cope, as no one really knows this beforehand - unfortunately we don't have crystal balls!

You could look on the British Agencies for Fostering & Adoption (BAAF) and Adoption UK for more information.

I'm sure there will be adopters coming forward to tell you of their experiences which I'm sure will be helpful.

NanaNina Tue 04-Mar-14 12:09:19

Ah Fusedog talks good sense!

BlueHairedFreak Tue 04-Mar-14 12:41:49

Like Nana I'm not an adopter but I do work for a VAA. It's perfectly normal to have questions and doubts about your ability to cope - you are only human! But that's partly why you have to go through such intensive preparation at groups and why your SW will build up a good relationship in order to understand your circumstances. Lots of VAAs offer an advice line service for a chat, there's plenty of info online and great forums (like this) where you can get peer support. In my experience, your SW wouldn't encourage you to progress if you weren't ready or able to make a success of adoption. Good luck smile

NanaNina Tue 04-Mar-14 13:48:30

What is a VAA BHF - voluntary Adoption Agency?

hackneylady Tue 04-Mar-14 14:08:28

Thanks for the replies. NanaNina to answer some of your questions: No, haven't taken time off work. Took medication in the past (c. 7 years ago). Yes, just general anxiety. In general, have learned greater resilience and coping, but had a bout last year that took me by surprise.

I do have a partner and we don't have birth children. We're considering adoption because we both feel strongly that we would like to give a child who needs it a loving home, when there are so many waiting (also, we are a same sex couple, which involves more thought and planning about how we'd go about having a family anyway, and, while we're still in the midst of decision-making, feel we'd rather create a family this way rather than going the IVF route). And despite all the self doubt (!) I think we'd have things to offer as well - empathy, energy, insight and lots of love (though I'm not naive enough to think that that's all that's needed).

CheeryGiraffe Tue 04-Mar-14 14:08:37

Hi HackneyLady,

DH and I haven't adopted yet (approval panel in a three weeks), but in the last few weeks of our home assessment, we have talked about resilience a lot with our SW.

As I understand it, the SW needs to see that you are able to get through periods of stress, ask for help when it's needed and come out the other side. I don't think anyone expects adopters to not be affected at all by adopting, they just need to make sure you have procedures in place to help you cope when things are tough.

I would speak to a couple of adoption agencies and talk through your concerns - there were issues that I was sure would rule us out before we started, but calling and speaking to social workers about it set my mind at ease about them. As others have said, the fact you're aware you sometimes get stressed is a good thing. A SW is going to be far more concerned about someone who says they can cope with anything and never get stressed.

Lastly - we've not even been approved yet, and I am terrified. Excited, but also terrified. Terrified that we'll get it wrong, that our child won't like us, and we won't like them and that we won't be able to cope. I am pretty sure that if I was pregnant I'd be terrified of more or less the same things, but with adoption they just let you spend months on end thinking about all the things that will be tough! Being scared and doubting yourself is normal, but if in spite of that you still feel you want to adopt then that's a good sign. smile

I hope that made sense - hopefully someone with better advice will be along soon.

hackneylady Tue 04-Mar-14 14:09:11

Oh, sorry - we've been thinking up to age 5, but we're open minded...

hackneylady Tue 04-Mar-14 14:11:51

Thanks, CheeryGiraffe, and sorry, my last post just there cross-posted with yours. Really helpful to hear you had the same doubts. Speaking to social workers is a really good idea. Best of luck for panel!

CheeryGiraffe Tue 04-Mar-14 14:15:11

Thanks, HackneyLady, terror of the panel is just something else to add to my list 'things to be scared of'. grin

Definitely speak to agencies - we spoke to three (would have been a lot more if we weren't in such a remote area), there are no rules about how many you can speak to/request information from so the more the merrier! Good luck!

BertieBotts Tue 04-Mar-14 14:22:35

I am not an adoptive parent, but I have a child and I do struggle with stress and anxiety.

I won't lie - it has been an issue and it has affected my parenting. But with a supportive partner around I've been able to manage this much better - it was a lot worse when I was a single parent.

OneOfOurLilkasIsMissing Tue 04-Mar-14 14:24:06

I think it's great that you recognise that worries and doubts are normal and signs that you are indeed considering everything carefully

I didn't know for sure that I would be able to parent well and avoid making massive mistakes (as opposed to the bad days everyone will have). But I knew that I wanted to be a mum, more than anything. And I knew I would committ to any child that moved in with me and hang on with everything I had if things didn't go so well. I didn't know how much I would be able to handle, but I knew I would do my absolute best. I had worked (a bit, not a great deal) with some children in care and so I knew a little bit about what issues they had, and so I was a bit nervous about living with those issues full time, but actually meeting the children and so knowing them as, well, them, and not just on paper with a long bullet point list of their difficulties, also gave me confidence that there would be good times and experiences with parenting - I could see their strength and great qualities as well as their difficulties, I could imagine what it would be like to parent these children - and the more time I spent with children, the less I could imagine not having a child of my own. By the time I was doing the homestudy visits, I wanted to be a mum so much that I couldn't imagine changing my mind and not going through the rest of the adoption process and staying childless

I was naive about what parenting would be like, yes, and that wasn't a good thing

But on the other hand, however much you know, you can't actually truly know what it will be like until you do it

And I don't regret my decision for a second - I'm a mum. That's just the most amazing thing in my life smile

Whilst most adoptive parents are relatively resilient people, there are extremely few who actually possess super human levels of resilience and patience etc. Nearly everyone has normal levels of resilience and patience and empathy. There are certain qualities you need to have, but not in such amazingly huge quantities that you are unlike everyone else around you.

Also, I would say that whilst in my experience, the majority of children have some additional needs, it's a minority of children who have very significant/severe needs. Although you can't know what difficulties your future child will have, thinking that all children have needs that are pushing their parents to the brink, is not realistic. The large majority of adoptive families I know, here and online, do not regret deciding to adopt, have children they love with eveery fibre of their being, and do have a family life, even if it's not the same as other families.

Inthebeginning Tue 04-Mar-14 15:44:27

hi Hackney, welcome to the board.
I have anxiety too, when we first enquired I was still on ad's but both the la's that we spoke to were fine about that. it wasn't even really mebtioned in our panel except to ask how I found counselling. I think it helped that we have a good support network around us. Not only does this put panels mind at rest but it also is a good thing for you too, if you are prone to anxiety you need people who will support you surrounding you. You don't lose anything by making enquiries so I'd advise getting in touch with some authorities and being honest with them from the start.
Please don't worry about panel either. I was so so so nervous about going (if you stay on this board you will see I'm a witterer! grin ) but it was one of the nicest things. It was like being in a big hug if I'm honest. Lovely.
Feel free to ask any questions, everyone is very supportive on here.

BlueHairedFreak Tue 04-Mar-14 16:49:44

Nina sorry yes VAA = Voluntary Adoption Agency

Hackney lots of parents have experienced anxiety or other MH issues before they adopt, your SW will have plenty of experience and be there to guide you though.

As for worries about Panel - everyone feel like that! Even SWs sometimes and admin staff too. We are sit in the office hoping everything goes smoothly (and it usually does).

MyFeetAreCold Tue 04-Mar-14 20:02:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Italiangreyhound Tue 04-Mar-14 20:05:56

hackneylady hi, anxiety and worry are not always a bad thing, but it does depend if it affects your ability to deal with life. I had anxiety years ago, had CBT counselling for it (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and it was really helpful.

Is your partner supportive/wanting it as much as you.... have you been together long?

Lots of questions, don't answer if you don't want to.

The biggest question is do you want to be a parent, have you been around kids, (friends kids, nieces and nephews etc) and do you like kids company etc? Maybe some voluntary work with some kids would help you feel you can cope and you like to be around them? Testing out your vocation to be around kids so to speak.

Good luck. Maybe also talk to a county council re adoption and see what they require. Above all you need to be honest about any anxiety and stuff in the past, would getting some counselling now help you to get ready for if you feel anxious in the future?

hackneylady Sun 09-Mar-14 15:37:04

Thanks all and sorry for the delay. Yes, italiangreyhound absolutely and completely want to be a parent. I love being around them (god kids etc) and have volunteered with kids from primary to secondary school ages. So that's the main motivation. Everything else is whether I could be a good enough parent to them...

I've had some counselling which has been really helpful - was just a bit taken aback by a recent episode as I thought I'd put it behind me.

MyFeetAreCold I loved your last line!

thanks, inthebeginning, that's really helpful.

Lilka your commitment and warmth are inspirational

Devora Sun 09-Mar-14 23:32:13

Hi hackneylady, and welcome on board. My dp and I have both suffered from anxiety and depression and I was certainly worried about whether we'd have the strength and resilience to be good parents. Yet here we are, nearly 9 years on, with two children who aren't quite psychopaths and managing to have fun even though we're knackered smile

Actually, my mental health has been much improved since having children - and I think that's just because I no longer to have time to overthink things. There's a line in an Anne Roiphe book I read that said something like her children saved her from endlessly pacing the confines of her own skull, and that's how I feel.

None of this is to suggest that you shouldn't seriously consider whether you have the energy, resources and resilience for parenthood - but that's what home study is for.

hackneylady Thu 13-Mar-14 12:13:23

Thanks very much, Devora. That's very interesting about your own experience and something I can relate to - being too busy to go around in endless circles in one's head is probably a good thing!

While I'm here (and sorry, don't know if I should start a new thread) can anyone recommend a good book to read about adoption? A general 'primer', covering the main issues, including how things seem from the child's perspective?

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