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possible placement Foster to Adopt - help!!

(8 Posts)
teatime17 Tue 24-Jan-17 12:58:36

We have been advised of a Foster to Adopt opportunity.The mother uses heroin and other drugs, and has history of mental health issues, and domestic violence experienced during pregnancy. We are trying to discuss the issues involved and what information to ask for when it comes to it. TBH I am very nervous. We've had the training but it doesn't prepare for the reality. My DH has children from previous marriage and is more relaxed. One who lives with us and one of my concerns is how we cope as a family if the baby needs a lot of extra care and support now or later, and we live in a very remote area. Any help and advice from people who have been in a similar situation would be greatly appreciated. I am thinking this may be too much to take on.

sweetchilli77 Tue 24-Jan-17 15:24:22

I have had a successful FTA very recent. Similar situation to birth parents history. Happy for you to PM me if you have any personal queries.

I will say though............... ensure you know as much detail you can about the mental illness, the drug history and if a medical professional has stated already if there has been any development issues regarding this. You need to know if there will be any presenting issues and is it something you and your support network can manage.

Ensure that EVERY avenue as been exhausted before they have approached you and there is no way the baby will be given back or to a family member.

There will be lots more things you may need to dig more that are personal to your situation.

Feel free to ask away smile

Kr1stina Tue 24-Jan-17 17:28:12

Excellent advice from sweet chili

Don't rely on SW assessment of the child in terms on development, future risks etc. They are not HCP and dont know a lot about this area. They are also motivated by the desire to get children placed asap so tend to be optimistic to say the least.

Also if baby is newborn , there's a limit to what anyone can tell you. Trying to do a risk assessment is very hard .

E.g. You say BM used heroin and other drugs. No one can know how much and how often and at what stage of the baby's development. She undoubtedly used alcohol as well, which is very risky for baby.

Im sure you will understand that there's very little hard evidence on the effects of poly drug use pre natally. Users don't know what they took and when, even if they wanted to tell you. They don't know the contents of what they take if they are buying it on the streets.

One BM might be in prison for the early stages of pregnancy , so her drug use will be much less, as anything she has taken inside will be very weak. So perhaps her baby will suffer less damage - who knows ?

Another will be using a range of drugs all the way though. A third may only drink heavily and her baby might be affected even more.

All three women will be classed as drug users who lose their babies . All three Babies may not be affected to the same extent.

So you can ask questions about the background , but I doubt if you will be able to tell much about the risk to the baby from drugs etc. And that's not counting the influence of cortisol ( which we know about ) and the genetic issues from mental health problems .

So no one can give you any real assessment of how likely it is that baby will suffer long term problems. The only way to know is it wait until the child is much older - most soft brain damage will have shown up by the age of 7 or so. But understandably most adopters aren't willing to wait to adopt an 7yo.

FWIW I know two foster carers who had babies placed at birth from similar backgrounds in the last two years,

All FC were very good, had grown up kids of their own and both foster mothers have professional childcare experience. Both babies got the very best of care from the moment they were born. Both had significant delays when they were finally placed for adoption at about 12-15 months.

So you need to know that love and attention doesn't fix everything. If you go ahead you need to accept that there's a significant risk that this baby may have long term needs.

Only you know if you can take that risk. I'm so sorry, I know it's really really hard.

donquixotedelamancha Tue 24-Jan-17 19:18:25

I think this is almost the best opportunity you can get as an adopter and you should probably go for it. So I'll list all the potential problems :-)

1. Heroin really isn't that bad. The baby will withdraw (not fun) but it doesn't take long. The stuff Kristina said about poor data is very true, but there are no known direct developmental impacts. Low birth weight and prematurity are common and these can impact development. There is risk of blood borne disease, so ask about these.

2. FASD is highly possible. The effects of alcohol are very random. Alcoholics can give birth to kids with no obvious symptoms, but modest consumption can lead to significant impairment. Rather than me listing all the negatives- read up. Thing is, most adoptive kids have this risk.

3. MH- Could be a big issue. This is the one I'd push to find as much as possible about (if you can). Most heroin addicts have some interaction with MH services, but are you talking a serious illness and a lot of family history?

4. Significant risk (10-20%?) of baby going back to BPs. This would bother me. Find out as much as you can before saying yes.

If you have got to this stage you probably know most of the above, and I imagine you want a baby enough to accept that development will be very uncertain. Fewer babies are available recently; many/most are FtA or similar. Can you put up with number 4? I have direct experience of 1 and 2, feel free to PM me. If you haven't already, I'd ask chilli about the FtA process.

Don't let reading all the doom put you off (but weigh it carefully). Being a parent is fab. Good luck.

arielmanto Tue 24-Jan-17 20:24:31

Our LO was placed via FtA and BM had similar history. She had learning disabilities also. LO is now 13 months, and although has a diagnosis of "Global Developmental Delay" is an utter charmer. Sleeps 12 hours and eats like a trucker. She presents as a 9 month old - not properly crawling, not babbling, but socially engages, smiles and laughs, "kisses" us, waves and claps when asked. Pinpointing why seems delayed is difficult when you are with her, but it's very clear that she is when you see her with other children her own age. She was with 1 FC from birth to 6 months. Don't know if it helps to know this, undoubtedly they are all diffferent! Feel free to PM x

teatime17 Wed 25-Jan-17 10:26:46

Thank you this is all very helpful.

Anyone got any specific medical questions it would be useful to ask the HCP when the time comes. Obviously they will know about the birth weight, etc, but am wondering whether there are specific tests we should be pushing for.

donquixotedelamatncha do you mean this is almost the best opportunity (as an adopter) because it's a baby? I know there are always potential risks no matter what age the child when adopted.

Kr1stina you seem to be saying there is never anyway of knowing, it will always be a leap in the dark and are we prepared to take that leap!

Kr1stina Wed 25-Jan-17 12:17:49

Yes, I don't think there's any way of knowing for certain.

For example, you will ask about birth weight. But unless you know gestation, how will you interpret that ? If BM had a chaotic lifestyle she may have had little or no antenatal care. Even if she presented late in pregnancy, she's unlikely to know her LMP and it's hard to estimate gestation late in pregnancy . So if baby was 5 lb, is that a full term baby where mum has eaten poorly and smoked heavily during pregnancy ? Or does baby have IUGR? Or was she just born at 36 weeks?

If baby was in SCBU then yes u might have more information and especially if baby had to be treated for withdrawal. We have limited information on the long term effects on serious drug use, but overall it seems less worrying than alcohol. Presumably you have done a lot of research around this ?

What medical tests were you thinking of? I'm guessing that baby will have been tested for blood bourne viruses, as they would require treatment.

AFAIK there's no test for FASD . Many children have no distinctive facial features and even if they do, they are very hard to see on a young baby. Even harder if dads ethnicity is unknown ( some times the detail of mums is too ) .

So I know one child who as a baby who was suspected of having FASD but in fact she doesn't , the epicanthal folds were because she had some Chinese heritage. This wasn't disclosed from the birth family but became apparent as the child got older.

You say that you live rurally and have no services nearby . Do you mean no special schools or hospital within an hours drive? ( i am never sure what people in England mean by this because I see school thread where people are complaining that their child has to walk 10 minutes to school! )

If you really do mean nothing nearby, then I'm surprised that you were approved for a SN child TBH. Because You will spend a lot of your life in the car driving to hospital appointments, physio, speech therapy etc. But of course many families cope fine with this.

From my own experience, I adopted one child who I was told had moderate problem who turned out to have very very serious and life altering problems. And one who I was told DID have High risk of SN who in fact had none.

So my experience of SW predictions is rather poor .

I'm sorry, I'm know you want me to say " oh just go ahead and it will all be fine " . But so much depends on the level and type of disability you feel you can cope with .

donquixotedelamancha Wed 25-Jan-17 18:37:53

"donquixotedelamatncha do you mean this is almost the best opportunity (as an adopter) because it's a baby? I know there are always potential risks no matter what age the child when adopted"

Essentially yes. I'll PM you if that's OK, so I can refer to specifics a bit more.

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