Here are some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on adoption.
Has anyone adopted a child?(22 Posts)
My child is 4. I always wanted a big family, but I did not tolerate pregnancy very well and do not feel I can subject myself, my partner or my existing child to being pregnant again.
I feel like there is something missing from my family. I love my child so much, more than anything else in the world, but I feel like I still have more love left to give to another child! I can't describe it really, I feel like I have space for another child in my life. My existing child would love a sibling, they are very loving and caring towards other children and often ask me for a brother or sister as they get lonely at home. My partner is also keen to have another child. We can easily afford to have another one too.
I don't know anyone who has adopted, or even fostered a child. I have no idea about the process, or even how to apply. I know it may be difficult as children that have been in care have not formed secure attachments as infants and as a detox nurse I'm well aware of the consequences of that! I guess I'm looking for people to share their adoption stories with me, so I can get a feel for what it may be like in day to day life? Brutally honest accounts would be really helpful as this is not a decision I want to make lightly.
There is an adoption board on MN. Perhaps you could ask for your thread to be moved there, as there are likely to be fewer responses, but the ones you get are likely to be more useful!
Ooh I didn't know that, I'll make the request immediately. Thank you so much!
There's a link above the adoption threads to lots of organisations that can give you information to get started with.
And I think there's a current thread about adopting when you have a birth child too.
(And yes, I did adopt, and it's amazing and I love them. )
Sally Donovan has written some very informative books on her experience with adoption. I was a total newcomer to the prospect of adoption when I read 'No Matter What' and I found it very accessible.
A PP mentioned Sally Donovan - her blog, or her more recent book "An Unoffical Guide to Adoptive Parenting" are both good reads. When I was considering adoption I also found it helpful to read Dan Hughes "Building the Bonds of Attachment: awakening love in deeply troubled children".
You asked for stories. The first response to that is that security concerns will become part of your life if they aren't already - to a greater or lesser extent, adopted children may have security risks associated with their past, so adopters are even more careful than other parents about keeping confidentiality, avoiding online photos, school photos, and social media etc. Within those confines (this being a public searchable forum!) this is how it was for me:
Application process - fairly straightforward, involved some info meetings, choosing whether to go local authority (LA) or voluntary agency (VA). Attending courses, having lots and lots of home-based visits from social worker(s), having a medical, having a financial review, having a home safety check, and going to approval panel roughly 6 months later.
Matching process - hugely variable. The family finder social worker is looking for the right family for each child. Sometimes where there's already a birth child, this dynamic is more complicated - not all children needing adoption are able to cope with other siblings, etc.
Matching was quite quick for me but I know others have waited anything from weeks (eek!) to years.
My child has been home a few years now and is mind-blowingly amazing I love them to the ends of the earth, with a depth I never knew I had in me. There have been tough times, associated with previous trauma that were somewhat predicted, but not entirely. There will be more difficulties to come, but we are in more or less steady state just now (until I typed that, obviously!) Therapeutic parenting is not like parenting a birth child, but it's really important to do it that different way.
Good luck with your thinking, we're here if you have more questions
Thanks rather! My job is highly security conscious, I am very careful with anything that goes on forums/social media already to the point where I do not have my real name on Facebook, nor do my family feature on any cover/profile pictures for me or my partner. My car is not even registered to my home address and I have 5 different routes to/from work to give you an idea. So security risks don't really phase me, they are part of my every day life.
I would be waiting until my own child is at least 6/7 and looking to adopt a 4/5 year old, so this is a long term plan for me if it works out. And of course if my own child ever changed their mind about having a sibling before we adopt, we would stop the process immediately as I would want them to be as involved in the decision as possible. It seems I've got the time scales right, a year thinking about this life changing decision and researching, and a year or 2 applying and hopefully being matched.
I'll definitely check out the resources everyone has suggested, thank you!
Caveat this with all the caveats you can about how I'm nice and mean well because what I'm about to say doesn't sound particularly nice but I'm typing whilst doing homework/reading practice and don't have the brain-space to phrase it better.
4 or 5yos are generally at the top end age-wise of 'adoptable' children. At 4 or 5 they will almost certainly come with a big old bunch of baggage/issues.
So if you're thinking 4 or 5 because you wouldn't have to do the pre-school years/expense or you don't want to take time off work, you might want to reconsider. It would not be 'easier' than toddler. (And SS generally expect you to take a year off work - adoption leave is similar to mat leave.)
I would also be surprised if a 4 or 5 yo would take well to suddenly having an older sibling (and tbh I don't think social workers would be keen on it anyway. If they were I'd be suspicious it was because the child was 'hard to place').
Tldr that's interesting. The age range I'm looking at is because I don't want a child with too big of an age gap to my own child. I've just been on holiday with my 4 year old, they are just sleeping through the night, they were extremely hard work under the age of 3 and I did not enjoy parenting that age group at all! Was expecting to take a year adoption leave, best scenario it would be split between me and dp, if not dp would take it.
An adopted child would need a gap - I think SS want at least two years, and frankly I think an older child (which sadly in adoption terms is 4 or 5) would need more.
Adopted DC can be very very needy of attention and don't come with any guarantees of sleeping through the night (or any other normal age approp behaviours).
I'm not trying to put you off, but you do need to do some thinking/reading, so either considering a younger AC or waiting til your BC is older before adopting a 5yo.
(I didn't have a BC so no personal experience of it. Did adopt a 4yo though.)
This is exactly the sort of information I want! Sad that 4/5 year olds are seen as old for adoption purposes... they are still babies at that age really! I'm definitely going to spend the next year thinking/reading. Child is life long commitment so a year or 2 to consider it seems sensible!
My gorgeous son was 7 when we adopted him. We purposely choose to adopt an older child so we knew as much about him, his attachment, behavior, character, past etc as possible. This was important to us because of our jobs.
The process itself we found pretty painless. It's long so be prepared for that. There were times when we felt sick with nerves and others where we could not believe it could take so long for a small piece of information to be passed to us. But when we first met him it was an amazing feeling. One which even through the tough times remains with me. Even when he is shouting about how I should just leave him, how he will never let me hug him again, how he wants to go back and live with his old mummy and anything else he thinks will hurt me I still look at him and just fill with love and the desire to protect him and try and stop the pain he is feeling.
If you have any specific questions about adopting an older child, or anything else about the process, then pm me and I will try to answer.
We thought that we wanted a small age gap with our birth child - we ended up with a nearly five year age gap, and in hindsight it has worked much better than the smaller gap would have done. There is far less direct competition (and comparison) between them, and they both have more space as small people than if they were the standard 2 years apart
I have literally just adopted (lo been home less than a month).
I don't think age matters when adopting as they have issues associated that do not come with birth children. Attachment issues are a big one to look at. Saying that, no amount of reading could prepare you for having to be in their line of sight every single minute. It is exhausting.
The process took us a year from submitting our interest to bringing home a child but as I understand it that is pretty quick.
The process took about a year for us which is pretty quick. We found our son on the Adoption Link website and we were lucky to be seen as the the most suitable couple by his social worker out of over 20 couples. It sounds dreadful but the matching / family finding process is very competitive.
You need patience and to be prepared for an extreme emotional rollercoaster. It's different for everyone but I went through a brief period of not loving my son and was lucky to get through this.
You also need to be prepared to raise an adopted child in a completely different way to your natural birth child. We are very firm with our son and have firm boundaries and consequences that have turned him from a controlling scared little boy into a happy chappy with superb and happy behaviour.
You will need to completely share an adopted child's past with them and make that part of their lives.
There are a lot of guides and info out there and I'd get really clued up. The results and rewards are amazing!!!!
I also wanted to adopt a child a couple of years younger than my birth child. In the end I adopted a child 4 years younger and tbh I think that kind of gap is ideal. My birth child is old enough to (sometimes) be generous and understanding that her little sister does need a lot of attention and reassurance. I think a narrower age gap would result in much more rivalry.
Adoption has been a fascinating, testing, exhausting, painful and rewarding journey for me. My dd is amazing - so loving and funny - but also has enormous needs relating to her adoption, despite having joined us as a baby. I have had to unpick everything I thought I knew about parenting, and I have at times felt immersed in the depths of her loss and trauma.
There is lots and lots to think about and you can't possibly get all the information you need from one thread. But read Sally Donovan, look at the First4Adoption and adoptionuk websites, and keep posting on here. Lots of people here happy to help.
Hi FruitCider, good luck with the process.
Our experience was we had a birth child (DD) and when she was 7, nearly 8, we met a social worker in our home and discussed the possibility of adopting. This was a number of months after attending an open evening with our local adoption authority. Although we had been talking about this for some time, while undergoing fertility treatment (and also having wanted to adopt for a long time!).
The process took us 20 months from that meeting to bringing our three (almost 4) year old son home to live with us.
Our son is quite emotional but aside from that he is currently presenting as a very normal little boy, very loving and affectionate and doing well at school.
I read a lot on here about attachment and how to do things differently. Although, as our dd has dyslexia and autistic tendencies, parenting our dd is not typically standard, certainly between ages 6 and 8 at least!
I think, for me, the key thing is that when there are issues, with anything with ds, my mind immediately goes (rightly, I believe) to adoption and whether losing his birth family, and then his foster family, and his early life may be the cause of the issues.
He has lost a lot. Although we have letterbox contact with the birth family and our son sees his former foster carer about two times a year, our son has lost these relationships. Plus the chaotic life he led before being taken into care has obviously impacted him.
The love I feel for our son is very intense. Sometimes it is expressed slightly different to our dd in that I've known her for almost 12 years and him for only two and a half. Plus their ages are quite diverse, she is almost 12 and he is half that. This big age difference has been helpful, they are at different stages and need different things and when they are both in their 20s the age difference will not seem so large and will not (I feel sure) affect their relationship as adults.
The love I feel for our son includes the fact that I feel a sense of responsibility for him, I would say it is in some ways even stronger than for our dd, because we chose him in such a way, we kind of knew what we were getting into! So I feel I must really do my best for him. BUT of course I feel that I must do that for dd too, so really there is no difference between the love I feel for either of my kids. It is just expressed differently and I think actually their age is the key factor.
I only ever treat ds differently when it is for his benefit, e.g. I am very careful about doing what I have said I will do and being someone he can trust, but again part of that is that dd knows she can trust me (I hope) after almost 12 years!
I am rambling. I hope I am just giving you a snap shot!
Just stumbled across this:
I thought it was quite a good thing for people approaching placement to point friends and relatives at tbh.
tldr good one.
I found this very helpful from the perspective of the child. Although it is aimed, I think, at adoption from overseas I am sure a lot of the feelings will be the same.
It is just helpful to remember that although adoption may well be the very best option for a child there is a lot of difficulty and bewilderment for young children in coping with new parents, at first.
Thank you so much for all of your replies. Lots of useful information and reading to do before I make a decision! I get the feeling adoption will be a good choice for us, and I'm also reconsidering the age gap now. Maybe a bigger one would be better, this would mean waiting longer, but waiting a long time to do something as important as adopting a child is not a bad thing in my eyes!
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