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Notoriety of birth family

(16 Posts)
Lillyludge Thu 01-May-14 12:18:16

Hi everyone. I've been lurking for some time and I'm impressed by the insight and helpful advice on this discussion board. You all deserve thanks smile

Sooo.....I've been approved and I'm now looking at profiles. One of the children's birth families has been in national and local news for reasons that are pretty awful (I won't say too much more for obvious reasons). I'm thinking that a first name change for the little one might be necessary for anonymity and security purposes (infant and easily altered name, so it may be an option). But I'm also wondering about how I would tell this child about this in the future...and how I could help them cope with the notoriety of their birth family.

I just wondered if anyone had any thoughts on this?

AreYouFeelingLucky Thu 01-May-14 12:30:37

I would agree with changing the first name - to give them the chance to have a life without being recognised as well as giving them chance to get their head around their family before other people ask.

With regards to notoriety - is it bad enough that it will still feel bad in years and years? It may die down. I'd then approach it as you would in any other situation. Be factual and kind, and and let the child process it. Depending on the crime, you may want to avoid details for some years, but remember that the Internet isn't a good place to learn from. You'll either need to ensure you don't give Google-able details, like names, or perhaps cover it all in an appropriate way.

I grew up with someone whose dad was in jail for rape and murder. She knew, and was quite blasé about it. She saw it as the reason that her birth family put her up for adoption, so it seemed to to end that interest and she rarely spoke about them.

I hope that helps a little!

Italiangreyhound Thu 01-May-14 13:02:43

Yes, change name. No other advice, sorry. Good luck. Will think if I can say more!

jbean3 Thu 01-May-14 13:32:40

If only it was like the good old days when the adopted child's records pre-adoption were permently sealed. Unfortunately they may learn one day and you need to be able to explain the details. Hopefully they never ask, but you should absolutely change their first name.

MyFeetAreCold Thu 01-May-14 13:47:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

UnderTheNameOfSanders Thu 01-May-14 14:40:10

I disagree with jbean (sorry) regarding "hopefully they never ask" and "they may learn" someday. These days we are encouraged to be open and not keep secrets.

Definitely change name if it is distinct in this case.

You would I think need to tell them in an age appropriate way what occurred, and maybe say that there was some press interest, but try to play it down. Maybe keep press cuttings / excerpts /printouts from less sensational papers so they are available when older.

I think that these days they often don't include surnames in life story books(?). That should help minimise early searching on google.

Also agree with Lucky There may be a difference between here today gone tomorrow notoriety, and one which is likely to be trotted out regularly everytime there is something else remotely similar that occurs or when released from prison etc.

Lilka Thu 01-May-14 15:54:46

Thank God we've moved on from the bad old days, due to the high volume of experience and research which showed all the flaws in it. God knows how we adoptive parents are supposed to help our children with their trauma and pasts if we don't know all the relevant. Our children have the right to their own story and to the facts. Of course our challenge as parents is how to talk about it

I would agree that if the child's first name has ever been in the press, then changing it is very sensible. I would not tell my child their birth surname until they were much older, because press articles and comments on them and online hate groups are vicious and not something you want your child coming across sad all those people who claim to care about the poor children but actually don't give a fig about their feelings and needs hmm

I think talking about media involvement is going to be something which comes up later in childhood or probably teenagerhood. The earlier years are similar to other adoptions without this complicating factor, explaining the reasons for adoption at the right level for the child to understand.

A big concern with a big media case would be friends, teachers, your family, basically anyone really, finding out your child's background. Your child maybe sharing something which jogs someone's memory. You just have to be very careful what you share and with whom, and how you talk to your child about their story being private

Most media cases do fade a lot over time. Obviously we can't know what this case is, but baby p level of media interest is incredibly rare, so it's possible depending on this case, that in a few months or a couple of years, it will never be mentioned in the press again and very few people would even remember it

Italiangreyhound Thu 01-May-14 17:24:04

Agree with Lilka and * UnderTheNameOfSanders*, we really do need to know what they have come from to help them to survive it and not to inadvertently trigger negative memories etc at the wrong time through ignorance.

I would also be working very much on making it clear that people are not their past or their family background, as with all adopters (I would imagine) for me blood is very much not thicker than water and it is possible you can feed in lots of positive stuff about who he or she is aside from any family history. Also, teaching the difference clearly between shame and privacy. Between the need to keep something quiet and private but not be ashamed of myself in the process. That is going to be hard to teach as society in general often seems to think if things are private they must be shameful. So we need to work well at saying things are private but not shameful. If that makes sense!

RabbitRabbit78 Thu 01-May-14 18:10:46

All I have to add is that if you are not comfortable with telling them about their birth family and past, then it's not fair on any of you - adopters or children. You need to be able to deal with questions openly and honestly without feeling there is an elephant in the room or something hanging over you. Our DS had a past which the social worker thought we might feel difficult to explain and discuss when he gets older, but ultimately we believe it is something that we can cope with. It has to be right for you though.

Devora Thu 01-May-14 20:42:24

We turned down a potential match, largely because of the nature of crimes carried out by the birth family. I would never, ever have guessed beforehand that this would put us off, but I honestly didn't feel equal to the task. It is a huge challenge and you are right to think it through carefully.

Incidentally, bit of a tangent, but this morning I was 'lucky' enough to see a bit of Jeremy Kyle and found it very upsetting. It was a woman whose (just) adult daughter offered to be her surrogate, and then changed her mind and kept the baby. She said at one stage that social services said the grandparents couldn't adopt the baby anyway because of the long history of social services involvement with the family. The grandmother accused the daughter of trying to hurt her because she was jealous: "all of me daughters are always jealous because they want more of me." The daughter sat there with a tight face, looking like she couldn't find the words, while her mother wept, the rest of the family bellowed, and Kyle yelled at her that she was a vindictive little madam who wasn't worth a tenth of her mother. Worst of all was that the child was there. On live TV. Named. And not a chance that she will get through childhood without being teased that her mum got pregnant by her grandad.

I thought of how careful we are to preserve our children's privacy and dignity and thought how on earth is national TV allowed to get away with a zero duty of care to these children? Sick making.

Shallishanti Thu 01-May-14 20:48:15

I really don't know how that programme is allowed to be made and broadcast.

Lilka Thu 01-May-14 20:52:36

Oh Devora sad angry That's absolutely disgusting. Awful. I hate Jeremy Kyle and his show. They had a birth mum and son on once and that was awful and disgusting (of JK) as well

It's the hate groups that get to me. The people who want to have a FB group of massive forum chat about how we should torture (insert birth parent's name here) because he/she is (foul language) etc etc. And all I can think is how the poor surviving children might come across it one day, and how insensitive it is

I do completely agree with both you and Rabbit - Media attention and difficult backgrounds are both things to think very hard about, and really consider whether you feel capable of talking about it with your child. I feel 'comfortable' (I mean, it's horrible, but I can do it and handle the situation well IMHO) talking about things like abuse, criminal acts etc, so I decided early on that I would consider children with difficult backgrounds.

However had I been asked to consider a child with a lot of media attention on the case, I don't think I would have said yes. I certainly wouldn't say yes now. I just don't feel comfortable living with that uncertainty and worry, and extra need for serious privacy. However for another potential adopter, they may well feel the opposite, and would be fine with a child where the birth family were widely publically known, but wouldn't be okay with a very difficult background (although the 2 are usually going hand in hand)

Italiangreyhound Thu 01-May-14 21:59:37

Devora how cruel and crap is that programme, a real low point for TV. sad, [cross].

Italiangreyhound Thu 01-May-14 21:59:52

angry I mean!

Lillyludge Thu 01-May-14 22:28:37

Thanks everyone for your thoughtful responses!

I would hope that in this case the notoriety will fade with time, so once the child is old enough to understand and process what happened, everyone else might have forgotten about it.

However, it's the sort of case that might be mentioned again in the media if something similar were to happen IYSWIM....and (as I've found out) in this technological age, even if you aren't very familiar with an "incident" it's very easy to search online for it and be faced with a HUGE list of stories and OTT headlines that give details of everyone and everything hmm

Ah I don't know...I'm going to have to put some more thought into whether I'll be able to cope with this!

I'm sure I'll be posting again soon to ask another question, so thanks again for your time (and congratulations Italian! grin)

SuperTBoysMummy Wed 18-Feb-15 23:44:09

We had to do just this and for similar reasons. It's not hard to convince a judge that it's the right thing to do; just make clear your reasons. It helps if the birth forename is a little unusual, I think, because there's always the danger that they can be sought. Have a look on ONS website and find the data on names registered to boys or girls in the year your child was born. We found out that our child's name was particularly unusual and, thus, easily traceable, which provided a good basis for our argument. It was never questioned in court - but social workers did that sucky tooth noise when we first mentioned it. Don't let them fob you off - sounds like you've serious concerns!

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