Here are some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on adoption.
We have just been accepted onto stage 1 of the attachment process. So far we have said that we would like a preschool aged child and ideally at the lower end of that age range to ensure that bonds are firmly in place before any major potential challenges arise. We are also open to some additional needs but would want our child to be likely to live independently as an adult. We are also open to the possibility of foster to adopt and accept the uncertainties that could bring but like the fact that it would minimise the trauma experienced by the child. We have done a fair bit of reading and are certainly not going into this totally naively. We understand that some level of emotional and behaviour difficulties at some point are highly likely and are reading lots on attachment parenting. The thing we are both struggling to get our heads around is the possibility of extreme violence. Reading stories about parents being to afraid to sleep in their own homes and being threatened with knives, I'm pretty sure no one would knowingly put themselves in that situation. I also assume that such extreme cases being the extreme are less common and that there is a whole spectrum of experiences. I should say that we also have a birth child so we are making this choice not just for ourselves but for them also.
I guess what I'm asking for is some reassurance alongside the harsh realities of adoption that we know we have to face. Some idea of what those behaviours and difficulties look like for your children. We know several adopters but currently none of their children are experiencing any major emotional or behavioural difficulties, certainly nothing that would concern us in terms of our ability to parent them.
I think this is a bit of a wobble triggered by the process officially starting! I'm hoping this 'am I doing the right thing' is normal!!
Hi OP - I'm at the end of stage 2, and share similar concerns. When I've raised these with my social worker they made a note on my file that I'm 'pessimistic'. I think this is unfair, considering some of the books that I've been given to read, such as 'building the bonds of attachment' in which the child requires a saintly level of patience on the part of the adopter to even function. Near the book's end the child throws rocks at the adopter's head, which is responded to with patience and loving etc. etc. I just don't want that to be my life - who would? Sally Donovan's books are much more balanced and encouraging.
I sometimes feel like the potential for violence is an elephant in the room, and that it is in social workers' interests to be optimistic. On the flip side though, I do have an adoption mentor who is very positive, and there are lots of positive postings on this board which I'm mainlining at the moment. There's undeniably a risk in adoption - and I don't think that acknowledging that is abnormal.
I should add - embarking on adoption is the biggest leap of faith I've ever undertaken! I think it's natural to be a little cautious. There's so much at stake, for everyone involved.
I don't think anyone can reassure you tbh. But i think it's good that you are aware of the risks involved.
Will your agency/council let you do fta with a birth child though? We wouldn't personally have taken the psychological risk for our bc, but the council point blank said we couldn't be considered for it anyway.
We have a BC, and these thoughts went through my head. The cuckoo in the nest who murders you all in the night type thing.
I also had a panic when I read about dirty protest type behaviour, and felt a bit sick at the thought.
What reassured me was thinking about my birth child, and if we had another birth child. Don't forget, it's not a cuckoo doing this, or a stranger. Any challenging behaviour will be coming from your own child. If we had a birth child who developed mental illness or whatever, and became challenging or violent, what would we do? If a birth child got shit everywhere, we'd clean it up. And it's the same with an adopted child.
Behaviour can be more challenging, and it is more risky adopting. But there are risks for the first children that the second children are challenging however those second children join the family.
If your own child starts exhibiting violent behaviour, and you can't cope, then you seek outside help. That's true of your children however they join the family.
The stats of families being murdered by their adoptive children? I'm imagining it's very very rare!
I would be far more cautious about the uncertainties of FtA and the sibling bond affecting any BC than on the very small possibility of fratricide!
We are two and a half years in and our dd is the best thing that ever happened to our bc.
Dd is really gentle and kind with everyone - especially babies. I worry about all sorts of stuff but I would say our dd is more likely to people please than exhibit violence.
Of course you want to be a parent rather than a full time carer. That's entirely natural. And there's a lot of sensational stuff out there. But try googling 'headache' - there's no good news on t'internet.
Gotta love these social workers who bombard you with adoption horror stories and then question you if you express any concern. I got this when I dared to ask about the possibility of FAS when I met the medical advisor - her response (to the SW, in front of me), was, "This woman just wants a perfect baby. I doubt her suitability to adopt."
Look, this is really hard stuff to convey with the right kind of balance. Everybody travels hopefully to parenthood. The vast majority of us adopt because we want to start or complete our families - not because we're saints who want to sign up for a lifetime of therapeutic parenting. The reality is that most adopted children have some kind of problems, but of course there's a whole continuum and few pose very real threat to their families. And you love them, they're your kid, so that helps you get on and deal with things.
I have to say, though, that adopting when you already have a birth child does need more consideration. I did it, and the social workers happily glossed over the potential problems, and I was happy to be glossed because I wanted to hear that everything would be ok. 7 years on, everything is not ok. I think there have been huge benefits for my birth child, and huge costs too (dd2's needs take over the family, and yes she is first victim of dd2's rages and physical aggression - though it's not serious in intensity). They do love each other, and after we're gone they'll have each other, but I do think that dd1 would have had a calmer childhood with more attention for her own needs if she had stayed a single. And I do wonder if dd2 would fare better if she had our undivided attention. Time will tell.
I do feel for you. I remember desperately wanting some kind of reassurance. Nobody can give you that. But I think many adopters would say (and have done on this board) that they started out hoping for normal family life, got something a bit different, and readjusted their ideas of 'normal'. A minority of adoptive families have no problems, a minority have devastating problems, and most of us have more to deal with than non-adoptive families, but we love our kids and our families are stable.
One last thing: I'd caution against thinking adopting a young one ensures no problems. dd2 was 10 months when she came to us, and she definitely her problems - insecurity, low emotional regulation, physical aggression, overwhelming grief for the family she has lost. But she is also bright, funny, warm and loving, and doing well at school. I used to underestimate the impact of early life trauma - I don't any more.
Thank you for your responses. I don't think for second that a younger child would have no problems but our reading so far has suggested that less those with the birth family, less consciously remembered trauma, and fewer moves between foster carers are less likely to be as severely affected by the process. That's our motivation for looking at younger children. As for FFA, I spoke to the social worker about my concerns about having an existing child and was told that it is about how you explain the process to them and that they have recently and under the guidance of a psychologist approved a couple with an existing adopted child fo FFA. We're early in the process which I am hoping will make all of that sort of thing clearer to us but so far the social worker has been very clear about the uncertainties but also of the huge advantage it brings for both the child and the family in terms of trauma and attachment.
Londonisburning, that is exactly what we keep saying to ourselves. Could we cope with that if it was happening with birth child because that is what it will be like not a random stranger that has moved in but our child. That does help it all seem much more manageable.
I also try to think how much of my worries about the impact on our family would I be having if I was having a second birth child and how much are specifically adoption related.
I think it is just the extremes that are worrying me but, while I need to be aware of the possibility I guess the extremes are not the most likely outcome but something in between is. And if the extreme does happen, well we will just have to deal with it. I have worked with young children with a range of behaviour needs so I'm not totally naive about some of the difficulties we might face although I do realise that parenting these children would be a different experience.
It is a shame that there are not more of the 'somewhere in between' stories out there, but I guess people don't come online to talk about the in betweens. They come to get support through difficult times and to share the good times.
Mostly it is reassuring to know that it is not unusual to feel apprehensive.
maybe I am the in between. My son is 12, he came to me at 7, its our fifth anniversary in March. We are currently having both life story work and family therapy.
Everyone who knows my son says he is the nicest, gentlest boy you could hope to meet. And mostly he is, he he has lots of friends, teachers love him because he is well behaved and loves to learn. Most of our life is fairly 'normal'.
But my son puts on a good face to the world. He has ASD so tends to be anxious anyway, but he simmers with anger, (he has good reason to be angry) grief, loss and anxiety which has on occassion burst over into aggression and low level violence. He is nearly as tall as me, and even when we are in a good place he does try and dominate the physical space. We have got through these periods with hard work and patience, remembering that even when we had an hour of rages, the other 7 or 8 hours of the day were good. We are having the therapy so he can understand his story on a deeper level so he can learn to control his anger. Day to day I keep a lid on his energy by running him ragged. He plays a lot of sport, far better he bashes hell out of a tennis ball than me.
We started out on the therapy a year ago, not had a major episode in that time.
you know that no one can give you gaurantees, normal will come to mean something different, but there are lots of us out here, living our normal and doing ok
I think most of us on here are 'in between' stories, and happy to share
We can all probably reassure you that it's normal to worry, I don't think any of us will be able to reassure you that your kid will be 'normal'.
We've had problems and they're horrible because we love LO, not because we wish we didn't know LO, iyswim.
I'm another 'in between' I reckon. We are facing some challenges at the moment but even in the darkest times DD is still the best thing to ever happen to me (and I hope vice versa) and we muddle through. Love alone can't heal a child's past traumas but the power of love is pretty immense and can help see you through the tough times
We had a lot of aggression from ds in the first 6months, mostly targeted at me and his sister. Hitting, spitting, biting, punching, kicking etc. He was very traumatised. However now 2 years on, even in meltdown he would never hurt me. At school, however, he is still very violent and they struggle to contain him. The progress at home shows me that he can stop this behaviour when he feels safe and we are all working hard to be therapeutic and work on his attachment so that he does not get into fight or flight mode every day at school. He is a wonderful little boy, just turned 6, who we love to the ends of the earth, but we were not fully aware of his needs and his social worker was not entirely honest. It was very hard on our birth children. I would suggest that you read paperwork very closely and follow up any hints of issues so that you can be confident that you are not taking on a child whose needs are too great for you and your birth children to cope with.
Thank you, it really helps to talk these things through and get my thoughts straight in my head.
Yup, another in between here. DD is a model child outside the house, at home we have violent rages, self-harm and massive clinginess BUT we are mainly a happy family. She's our child and, as others have said, our worries are around accessing support for her. She is also hilarious, bright and thoughtful.
We have been a family for 3 years and life without her is unthinkable. We deal with what comes.
I think the figures are roughly 20% of kids have very minor or no long term problems, 60% have moderate problems and 20% have very severe issues.
Those 20% are the ones who end up going into care, or who struggle to stay in any kind of education, who end up in psychiatric units or who break up marriages or where the other kids end up going to relatives or who threaten with knives etc.
I think most regulars here are in the 60% with moderate issues. Or whose children are still very young. And lots have only adopted once so their odds are better.
Theres a fair number Of posters here whose kids have severe problems, but they don't post as often.
And few people here have teenagers, so the trickiest time is still to come.
So I'd say that 20:60:20 split is accurate IME.
I spent yesterday evening reading the research report 'Beyond the Adoption Order: challenges, interventions and adoption disruption'. It made for very interesting reading. It said that something like 38% of adopters report having no issues whatsoever, 28% say there have been some issues but more highs than lows, the remaining third have had significant difficulties and of that 9% had disrupted and 6% were living away from home. It also identified some clear risk factors which were adopting children over the age of four and adopting children who enter the care system later (on average age 3). It identified boys as being more likely to be violent and the teenage years as the most common time for disruptions to occur.
We will be using this information to try and further minimise risks and keep in mind that this will be our child not a hypothetical stranger. We will remain aware of the risks and hopeful that we fall in the 2/3 of adoptive families who do not experience significant difficulties. Surely we all hope for that don't we, just like we would if it was a birth child. And then we deal with what actually happens.
Sounds like you've come to the same conclusions as a lot of the rest of us!
However, don't rule out those who came into care later, or are a little on the 'old' side. I think it's best to be as open as you can, and read as many profiles as you can, to see what these particular children's stories are. For example, a child could enter the care system because their elderly grandmother, who they'd had good attachment to, and had been mitigating any birth parent issues, died, so the child lost that buffer, and so birth parents couldn't cope. Even though they'd enter care aged 4 or 5, say, they have fewer attachment risks etc than a child half that age who has had multiple inadequate caregivers, and poor attachments.
Stats are stats. They look at populations. The big thing with matching is that it isn't a science, and it's not done on stats. It's done on vague feely things, and 'could we cope?'s and prepare for the worsts, hope for the bests.
Good luck! I hoping we're in the 'no problems' group, too!
We are rare in that our birth dd has given us as much, if not more, trouble than ds. Ds came to us at 3, nearly 4. When dd was 9.
I'd half hoped for a baby and for a girl (my own preference getting in way!)
So glad we had a child of 3. Depends who you speak to but three seems 'old' to some, 'young' to others.
I think what has worked for us, well, is that ds has needs and we can*we really hope* meet those needs. So I'd say look out for a child whose needs you can hopefully meet as opposed to a child stochastic no needs! Om
Sadly I think we're sitting in the 20% at the moment but hopefully we'll get into the 60 before too long...
Sorry to hear that slkk, would you be prepared to share a bit more about why that is? I totally understand if not, I'm just trying to gauge whether we would cope if it turned out that we were also in that 20%. I hope that doesn't come across as totally insensitive.
Sorry I've just realised that you have already shared more info further up thread.
I just don't think it's ever possible to predict how you'll cope. Some of the things I found the hardest were things that were totally unexpected. But the day to day violence and the worry I have when he is away from me (only ever at school as he just can't cope) I can generally deal with. It helps that I've found great support in a local SEN group and his school are amazing (only called me to pick him up 3 times even though he attacks staff every day. Sometimes it takes up to 10 staff to try and contain him and he has put his TA in hospital with a concussion) and have trained themselves up because they really want to keep him. It has also helped that our birth children are quite a bit older than him and so have been able to deal with him with some understanding. I think we all go into this with a lot of hope, a desire for a child in our lives and armed with as much knowledge as possible. We can only do what we can do. And no, I don't regret him joining our family Good luck.
slkk you do not need to say but what post adoption support have you had? We have had attach work in the early days and Theraplay which started two years in. It has really helped our son to regulate his emotions better. I would say he is about 30% less emotionally 'difficult' now than when he came. In that he can get a little upset and get back in control.
He is not violent but he is quite diffiuclt and it makes life harder for him so I am so pleased theraplay has worked well for him.
Do PM me if you want to ask anything. Please do ask your authority for help if you have not done so, or if they helped and it was not enough/good enough, ask for more. (I am sure you have but sometimes people soldier on in the hope of things improving naturally, as we did with his emotional outbursts, it was when I realised this was the area that was not improving that I actually asked for help after almost 2 years of him living with us).
All the best.
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