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Are you an adult who joined your family by adoption?

(46 Posts)
Italiangreyhound Fri 16-May-14 10:05:17

Hi all

Are you an adult who joined your family by adoption?

Would you be willing to share any tips and thoughts for me as a totally new, green, naive and newbie adoptive mum, please? Here or PM me?

Things you appreciated that your parents did or things they did not do? Or things they could have done or should not have done, just general stuff etc, like how they helped you to reconcile together all the parts of your early life?

I am not trying to pry into any really personal or disturbing aspects of your life, just asking for tips so I can do the best possible job for my little one.

Thanks so much.

WowserBowser Fri 16-May-14 15:27:43

I was a little baby when i was adopted so may not be of any help - but am bumping for you.

TheSarcasticFringehead Fri 16-May-14 17:04:41

Yes. I was four at the time. I remember being fine for maybe the first few days, but after that it was like I'd realised I'd lost my fps. It was all out grieving, tears, begging for them. My mum got me to draw them a picture, I think!

unrealhousewife Fri 16-May-14 17:10:35

What a great idea for a thread. My mother was adopted as a baby decades ago. She is eternally grateful and loving towards them but they never truly bonded. She has found her sister and has a deep bond with her even though they don't actually get on that well, they are just there for each other always. Life is a journey, there is no perfect way.

TheSarcasticFringehead Fri 16-May-14 17:22:14

I feel very, very lucky. Very rarely, I would be told that I was lucky to have my mum (she'd always do the hmm face to that!). When I wanted to say something very hurtful, I would say something related to her as a mum- I didn't want her to be my mum, I wished I'd never been adopted by her and so on. I suppose that was because I knew that because she loved me so much, that those words would hurt.

mummymamaandme Fri 16-May-14 17:40:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheSarcasticFringehead Fri 16-May-14 17:46:28

At school, I would say 'my mum chose me, so I'm special' so I suppose I was happy about it, but it was definitely a way to try and get over some insecurities I had about it. I couldn't make myself the same as them, so I tried to make myself look better than them and reassure myself that way. smile

Things they could have done: I wished that they could have been a bit better at pointing out similarities. I felt the differences a lot and would sometimes comment on them- I was the only one with green eyes, I had freckles, I was naturally taller or whatever. I think it would have been helpful for my mum/dad to have said 'yes you do, but look, we both like reading, we're the same that way!' or something, so not just reassuring me that eye colour or freckles and so on didn't really matter (because it felt like they did!).

hackneylady Fri 16-May-14 17:58:03

Oh that's really interesting. I was thinking through how I'd have that conversation (if we adopted) because I look incredibly like my mum and was wondering how I'd have a conversation about DCs not looking like other people in the family, to establish the ways in which we WERE/would be similar. I thought I could say things like 'We all love chatting' (assuming we ended up with chatty kids :-) ) or 'we all think it's really important to be kind'. That kind of thing

Sorry for the tangent, Italian, and huge congrats on your lovely news.

Lilka Fri 16-May-14 18:26:44

I popped DD1 a little email and asked her what her answer would be, hope that was okay. No time for her to write a long answer but she did say (I'm paraphrasing all this)-

That making adoption and birth family etc an open topic of conversation was helpful to her. So was listening to her and accepting her as she was. She says that after the first few years, she felt she could speak honestly about certain things - eg. her birth siblings, or even how she felt about me, without being scared of my reaction

She says she took a long time to love me, feel close to me, trust me or feel safe and she thinks parents should expect the child to find it difficult to feel safe/secure and trust their parents completely. She said she thinks it's important to remember that kids can hide their feelings and put on a mask, say by pretending everything's fine, or even tantrumming and anger can be a mask/defence

She says the best thing I did was be committed to her and not give up, no matter what happened

She thinks I should have been more careful about telling people she was adopted*. She also wishes I had talked more to her about how to talk about adoption to her friends [hope that makes sense!]. I could have helped her more with what her options were for dealing with questions, and what she might say in response to certain questions. She says she found dealing with other children really hard because of questions and prying

Also she says congratulations and she thinks that adopting is a great thing to do smile

* Very true, I agree with her, I was too open about telling people that I had adopted who didn't need to know. And once you've told, you can't take it back.

Frances79FirstTime Sat 17-May-14 09:10:45

I was adopted from a baby so again may not be much help. But my basic advice would be to tell the child as soon as they are old enough to understand - cannot believe some people wouldn't or would spring an 18th birthday "surprise"! I always knew and really never felt much different to my friends.

Also talk about it openly as the child grows up. That's something we didn't do and I think I would have appreciated more insight into their feelings etc looking back now. My brother was in a children's home until 4 and we never talked about that for example, which I think is a bit odd now.

I'm told constantly that I look like my Mum- have been since a baby- we just laugh and go with it. Just goes to show what people will make up to tell you what they think a new Mum wants to hear!

Happy to answer any other questions either on here or PM me. X

Italiangreyhound Sat 17-May-14 09:14:34

Thank you one and all.

unrealhousewife if it is not too painful for your mum to put into words or too inappropriate could you ask her what it means to love them but not be bonded (for her) and what she thinks they could have done differently to bond better? PLEASE ignore if this is a rude or too intrusive request.

Italiangreyhound Sat 17-May-14 09:22:53

Oh TheSarcasticFringehead that is so helpful....

Things they could have done: I wished that they could have been a bit better at pointing out similarities. I felt the differences a lot and would sometimes comment on them- I was the only one with green eyes, I had freckles, I was naturally taller or whatever. I think it would have been helpful for my mum/dad to have said 'yes you do, but look, we both like reading, we're the same that way!' or something, so not just reassuring me that eye colour or freckles and so on didn't really matter (because it felt like they did!).

That is so helpful, that is something I can easily do. Lots of similarities with food, we all seem to like and not like similar foods and there are a few physical characteristics in wider family. I am so glad you said that. I am sure there will be things they are good at and like, both DD and DS like animals and so do I, so we can emphasise that.

Can I ask, when you said things to hurt your mum, how did she handle it, well? How should I when I get those comments? I am a bit of a cream puff but I think we have researched all this so much that I am trying to be prepared for any problems.

hackneylady - not a tangent, right on track, I think I was worried that by saying some stuff it would sound a bit artificial but actually when I have seen friends with adult birth kids it can be the learnt mannerisms and way of talking that make them look most alike, rather than physical characterises.

BrieAndChilli Sat 17-May-14 09:34:12

I was 5 and my sister (blood related) was 2. We were adopted together. I never bonded with my mum and am currently no communication bar an awkward half hour visit every year or so.
Disclaimer:she is a bullying alcoholic diabetic who doesn't control her diet so state of relationship isn't just about being adopted

But she didn't drink as much when we were kids and was married to my dad but I think adopting 2 children at once was a bit overwhelming for her, she has a better relationship (only just) with my sister but she was still a toddler whereas I was a walking talking bundle of confusion, defiance, and emotion. I could read and dress myself etc as I had had to look after myself and my sisters. I had been removed from birth mother age 4 and spent a year in foster are whereas my sister didn't remember any of that.
I think my mum was expecting to be able to mould us in her image buti already had my own personality and was basically a stranger.

I don't think my mum ever came to terms with the fact she couldn't have her own biological children as our relationship became even more strained once I had my own children and then she turned on my sister as soon as she had my nephew.

I'm not sure what she could have done differently. (apart from not hitting and punching us) maybe it is down to a clash of personality I don't know but I feel like she was always disappointed in me even when I was a scared frightened 5 year old who had problems.

I suppose I'm saying if you are adopting an older child be prepared for them to have problems, its not a reflection on you they aren't doing it to spite you they just don't know how to act any other way, they are probably testing you to see if you will give them away too.

Italiangreyhound Sat 17-May-14 09:53:42

I popped DD1 a little email and asked her what her answer would be, hope that was okay. Of course Lilka that is fab.

She thinks I should have been more careful about telling people she was adopted I think I am already thinking this one through, where we live a lot of people know me, my DD is at the local school, we go to a local church, I am quite a busy person so arriving with a child who is almost 4 year old many people do know I can't have given birth!

A former neighbour saw me with a little kids bike and asked me about it, so it would have been hard to pretend I needed a little kids bike if I had mysteriously given birth, and if the child was almost 4, where had they been for the last 4 years etc!

So with local people I do say we are adopting. BUT once we are out and about as a new family I will not tell people, either people will know it is unusual for me to have a preschooler and will ask quietly who he is, or they will assume he is my son anyway, so I will avoid saying to anyone who does not need to know. I hope. Eventually other parents and kids will meet through school etc. I have two acquaintances who will be at at the school so I think I need to ask them not to tell people my son is adopted when he starts.

Frances79FirstTime great. Actually quite a lot of adoptive mums seem to look like their kids. I am always amazed, my friend is adopting and the baby looks just like she could be her birth child. It just seems to happen! I also know a girl born from donor eggs who looks like her mum, it's her birth mum but different genes of course, and so I just think these things happen! Also, re your brother, thanks I will pm you.

I would also love to know, if anyone has an adult male who was adopted some boy/man input, what was important from a male perspective ad I think everyone else who replied is female (apologies if this is wrong! It is hard to tell on the Intranet!).

Italiangreyhound Sat 17-May-14 10:25:28

Brieandchilli thanks so much for sharing and I am very sorry that your experience of your adopted mum were not good. I am so sad and angry for you. sad angry.

I am so sad to hear you say I think my mum was expecting to be able to mould us in her image buti already had my own personality and was basically a stranger.

It is no help to you but maybe some consolation that nowadays I think we are better prepared and know much more what to expect from children who have come through the LAC/care system.

Personally, I am also concious (as the birth mum to a quite difficult dd -dyslexic and very much her own person with her own way of doing things!) that moulding children is not quite so easy, whether they join a family by birth or adoption! Of course we want our children to have our values etc but beyond that I think nowadays more people realise that you simply can't make children be a certain way!

Also I think now it is recognised much more that people do need to 'get over' their need to have a birth child before they adopt. But it is easier said than done.

We had our dd, waited 9 months and then tried for over 6 years to have another birth child before going down the adoption route. That was a process I needed to go through. Now, I totally 100% committed to adoption. In fact when I told a neighbour about adoption and they said "You'll probably get pregnant now." I was slightly horrified at the idea! No, I do not want to get pregnant and actually my fertility problems were such that it was biology that was holding me back, not my mind or emptions (make me so mad that some people think fertility is so easily controlled by how you feel! angry.

All the best Brieandchilli. I hope your relationship with your children is good and makes up in some small way for the sorrows of the past. Thinking of you.

TheSarcasticFringehead Sat 17-May-14 10:42:52

She handled things in a mixed way. I can't remember much of the arguments from when I was younger, just that we has them iyswim? But when I was 13, we had a massive argument which culminated in me telling her that I wished she'd picked another kid to torture (I was very dramatic hmm ) after an argument about school refusal, which in don't think she handled well, but, tbh, I think it would be hard to handle it well. It ended with us being civil for maybe half a day after the argument had died down, the reigniting the next morning. If there was a way for me to walk away, it would have been easier, or to let it die down. By half way through the argument, it didn't feel like there was a way out for either of us, but there could have been if she'd sent me to my room or walked out of the house, or my father had suggested one of them.

I know someone (who's adopted) who looks like the spitting image of her mother. She was adopted at just below a year I think, and I think they look so similar because of the way they hold their head, some small mannerisms and so on.

Italiangreyhound Sat 17-May-14 10:52:40

Thanks * TheSarcasticFringehead* knowing how to get out of an argument is a skill I think they should teach in school.

BrieAndChilli Sat 17-May-14 11:12:16

Thanks for your kid words
I think what makes it worse is now I have my 3 I just can't imagine treating ten the way she treated us. But on the other hand I look at my 5 year old dd when she is tantrumming and realise its hard enough to deal with that when I have had 5 years of bonding and building a relationship, to suddenly have to deal with a 5 year old without the history must have been hard and like you say I don't think adoption process was as open about the problems that occur back then, think t must have been sold as look as this lovely smiling happy family, adopt a child and it will be like this for you (which I am sure it can for most people) but it must be a shock to find out having children isn't like that.
But have to say hitting a 7 year old with a shoe for wetting herself isn't on whether it's your biological child or not (and I say that as a parent to a child who wet himself regularly until age 7 not just as a one off while they were waiting to go on stage for a ballet show)

I think the main thing you cando is give them lots of reassurance you aren't going anywhere and Los of love.

To be honest apart from t lack of bonding most of our family's problems would probably have been there whether biological or not.

LastingLight Sat 17-May-14 14:37:03

Italian has your dd met her brother now? What does she think?

People who know dd is adopted as well as people who didn't have told me that she looks like me. I don't really think so... I think it's just something people say to be polite or because they see what they want to see. DD loves talking about the way in which we ARE alike - don't like exercise, love music, good at maths and languages, love reading etc.

trockodile Sat 17-May-14 15:26:38

As someone who has had one(birth) DS, now 9 and has suffered from years of fertility and gynae problems-I often lurk on this board, although have decided that adoption is not right for us at the moment. Reading about all the journeys people here have taken is fascinating and heart warming though, and I love reading about your wonderful children. It sounds like you are trying to think of everything Italiangreyhound, and I really hope it goes well for you all.
As you have asked for stories and experiences I thought you might be interested in reading this interview with someone who I am both a fan of musically and have been lucky enough to get to know a little bit-he is the most lovely man, who writes beautiful songs filled with love, pathos and beauty-but from what he has said has never felt accepted because of his sexuality and seems to have a troubled relationship with his (adopted) mother. Obviously. I only know his side, and would only feel comfortable sharing what is already public but I hope you find it interesting.

Lilka Sat 17-May-14 15:47:58

trockodile - thanks so much for that link. The interview was really interesting, and I'm listening to 'Ordinary' now. Wow, it's beautiful. He has such a fantastic voice. <goes off to find more of his music>

trockodile Sat 17-May-14 16:18:06

You're welcome Lilka smile I'm really glad you like him.
I wondered after I'd posted it if it looked like I was trying to promote him in the middle of Italian's thread and felt a bit bad. Obviously I think he's fantastic and can't understand why he's not world famous and would like everyone to love him (!) but I did think the interview was relevant to the question-it's heartbreaking to see how rejection can follow someone throughout life-and sad when you realise that his adoptive parents presumably started out wanting a baby desperately the way that all of us do-just somehow not able to follow through on unconditional acceptance. Hopefully that is changing now. flowers

Italiangreyhound Sat 17-May-14 20:50:32

I think, dear BrieAndChilli that parenting is very hard, and there are maybe some people who are good at it and some who are not. Being a mum to a child you adopted or a child you gave birth to at some point you have to put your needs below their needs and get on with it, it is very hard. Actually, at some point is almost immediately, and the fun and good bits are great but the loving them through the harder bits is (IMHO) what it is all about. I think there is no excuse for the way your mum treated you and it is very good to hear that you have come through it and had your family.

Hels20 Sun 18-May-14 07:13:07

Just picking up on a point Lilka 's daughter made earlier about wishing less people had known she was adopted. I found this very thought provoking...

DS has lived with us for nearly 7 months - and I have found it really hard not to reveal to certain people that he is adopted. It has also been hard because I don't have birth children - and talking to other mothers has been helpful in finding out things about schools, what activities there are to to around the area I live in (I had a good idea, but...). I was chatting to one lovely Mum at my son's nursery and I could tell she was getting a bit confused as I hadn't just moved into the area (I have lived in the same house for 6 years) and so I decided to trust her with the info that my son was adopted. The lightbulb then flicked on - she said she felt very tearful as it was an amazing thing (well, no...but)...she was an ex-Social Worker in Child Protection. But I asked her to keep that info to herself. And I need some other Mums as I feel quite isolated locally (I have good friends about 5 miles away but I need some more local friends).

So I read Lilka's daughter's thoughts and I suddenly felt a bit sick. It has made me realise I must be more cautious about who I tell. I would hate my DS to tell me when he is older that he wished that not so many people knew he was adopted.

But it is hard!

Lilka Sun 18-May-14 16:36:42

Yes it is hard Hels

It was hard at the time, because I had a new 10 year old pop up, and sometimes it was hard when situations just like you describe happen - about clubs, things to do, about birth stories. Sometimes I felt a compulsion to explain myself!

There are times with a much older child that 'telling' can't be avoided, but I did tell too many people, people who know us but who didn't need to know - for instance, people who became neighbours after DD came home, or some friends parents

And I can't take it back now. DD1's a private person. She doesn't want to be judged by people because of her life story, she doesn't want people she doesn't know well to know about her adoption. And that's not a bad thing - privacy is not shame, and that's an easy trap to fall into ("oh, we're not ashamed of adoption in this family, we don't want to give our children the message that adoption is a secret not to be talked about outside the family"). Well, my family aren't ashamed of adoption either - DD1 feels very positive about her (adoptive) family and positive about the difference adoption can make to a childs life. BUT, the fact that she is adopted has several other facts attached to it, of an intensely personal nature. The fact that she has a birth family, for one. The fact that she was in care, for another. The fact that there were reasons why she has been adopted. You can't say 'my child is adopted' and have that be the only fact you are telling someone, because legal adoption is an 'end point' to a very private and personal story, not the start. My DD1 does not want random people to know these things. She feels that if there's a need to tell, then there's a need. If not, there's not. It invites questionning, speculation etc.

I'm not trying to make you feel bad Hels! Really, the fact that I made decisions that were in retrospect not right for my own DD, I made them because I felt exactly the same way as you and so many other adoptive parents, felt the hardness of not saying anything in certain situations! This I understand. But I think it's worth talking about

DD has done some volunteering in years past, and she needed a CRB check for what she was doing. She deliberately choose documents which didn't include her adoption certfiicate, and she was adamantly opposed to letting her employer know her birth name (because she was over 10 when the adoption was finalised, CRB/DBS need to know birth name and normally you put previous names on the form which you hand back to your employer/organisation). So she went through the special process the CRB/DBS check people have for "post-10" adoptees, which is a way for an adoptee to bypass their employer and send their birth name and adoption certificate/original birth certificate straight to the CRB people to avoid the employer finding out this sensitive information.

It involved extra form filling but it was non-negotiable for her

Anyway, I'm getting on tangents now. But basically, we don't know how our kids are going to feel when they grow up. So I really think caution is the wiser course of action. There is no obligation on you to tell, and keep in mind that when you say 'my child is adopted' you are saying more than what you said!

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