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Background checks - would we stand a chance?

(16 Posts)
pinkdonkey Fri 09-Mar-18 11:22:48

Hi,

DH and I are just starting down the fertility clinic route. DH keeps trying to reassure me that if that doesn't work we can always adopt, in fact he is quite keen on the idea. The thing is I don't think there's a chance that we would pass the background checks.

DH has a serious mental illness (psychosis) which is currently well controlled. He has a history of drug and alcohol abuse neither of which are now a problem and he has a police record for stupid things he did whilst younger, (mentally unwell but not diagnosed At the time)

I also have mental health issues with periods of depression and anxiety and am recovering from PTSD.

We both work, have a great relationship and I feel will be great parents. There's no garunteed that DH or myself won't have further periods of mental illness though and She can be very debilitating and require hospitalization. Some of my friends are telling us that there's no reason we couldn't adopt and that refusing us on mental health grounds would be illegal under the disability discrimination act. I am however fully aware of the stigma attached to mental illness as we have already come up against it with medical professionals whilst ttc. I also know people who have been turned down as adopters for much less. So pretty sure it will be a resounding No.

OP’s posts: |
pinkdonkey Fri 09-Mar-18 11:24:34

Sorry auto correct. His can be very debilitating not She.

OP’s posts: |
Womblewobble Fri 09-Mar-18 13:54:17

Your friends are wrong, they can turn down for mental health problems. My husband had a history of panic attacks and I have a history of depression and we adopted. They did look very closely at us and how we dealt with mh issues though. I don’t think you would be the issue OP but I just can’t see your husband being approved. It isn’t the stigma attached to mental health problems, it is social services having a duty of care to put children in the safest environment they can. Having a serious illness like psychosis, combined with previous addictions would be a red flag. You would both have to prove that there is no chance of his addictions resurfacing and that he would continue to have his mental illness under control. I’m sorry but I just can’t see them being satisfied. Perhaps somebody else will come along and tell me I’m wrong. Good luck with ttc

Womblewobble Fri 09-Mar-18 13:58:40

Also I find it concerning that you feel you have been “up against it” from professionals. You yourself have said you could both become unwell and end up hospitalised. What happens to the baby if that happens? Would the other parent cope? You would both be deemed as vulnerable because of this. I really do apologise if I’m reading this totally the wrong way but please don’t resent the professionals. Go with their advice and take any support going, try not to view it that they are going against you (you would def feel this way if adopting! Even people with perfect backgrounds feel like that!) flowerscake

AJPTaylor Fri 09-Mar-18 14:07:42

i think your instinct that the combination of problems could be an issue. until you reach the point and start the process you cant be sure but you are wise not to put all your hope into it.

Ted27 Fri 09-Mar-18 16:16:48

I don't think anyone here can tell you categorically that you would or would not be approved because we don't know the full extent of your problems.

I do think you are getting ahead of yourself if you are having fertility treatment. You should come to adoption because you want to adopt, not as a reserve option.
Adopted children are nothing like birth children. They can test you to your limits and exploit your weaknesses. Any pre existing mental health issues can be triggered.
I wonder if you have thought about why children end up in care. Not all children are in care because they have been physically or sexually abused or willfully neglected. My son was in care because of his dad's mental health issues. So children can be removed from birth families because of addiction or mental health issues.
If not for me to say you shouldn't try to have a baby but I wonder if this behind your comment on coming up against it with professionals. Do you think there may be concerns about a baby coming into this environment.
I'm not suggesting that I think you or your husband would intentionally harm a baby. But I will leave you with this. My son's birth parents had two children. The eldest, my son, went into foster care twice before he was four because they could not cope. Mum reverted to drugs and moved away. Dad was left with a four year old and a baby. He had a breakdown, the four year old went into foster care for the third time until I adopted him at 7. The baby stayed with dad. In the last 6 years dad has had three breakdowns, the younger boy has lived with relatives for extended periods and is now in foster care at the age of 10. He is likely to stay there. Both of them loved their children, I have no doubt about that. They did not intentionally harm their children. But the extent of their own mental health issues has done great damage to those boys.

pinkdonkey Fri 09-Mar-18 16:30:21

Also I find it concerning that you feel you have been “up against it” from professionals. You yourself have said you could both become unwell and end up hospitalised. What happens to the baby if that happens? Would the other parent cope? You would both be deemed as vulnerable because of this. I really do apologise if I’m reading this totally the wrong way but please don’t resent the professionals. Go with their advice and take any support going, try not to view it that they are going against you (you would def feel this way if adopting! Even people with perfect backgrounds feel like that!)

The thing that makes me think that it is stigma rather than informed professional opinion is that all the mental health professionals involved on both sides who have known us both for a number of years including how we work together to support each other have commented that we will be fantastic parents and that they fully support us in wanting to become parents. We have had comments such as "There's no reason you two will find being parents more challenging than anyone else " and " you guys will have way more support than most new parents, so you might find it easier than a lot do."

The person we have had the negative response from was a medical professional who had met me twice and never met DH. In fact when I told one of the mental health professionals what she said he was furious and encouraged me to make a complaint on discrimination grounds.

I can understand that social services have a duty of care to the children to place them in loving families where they will be safe from harm. It is incredibly rare for someone with psychosis to harm anyone they are far more likely to be the victims of harm and you are far more likely to be harmed by someone who is not mentally ill. The thing is that all the well managed cases that tick along nicely are never publicised it's the very rare cases where something goes terribly wrong that get plastered all over the news so that's the only time most people hear about psychosis. So yes stigma is a big issue. DHs family members have always been happy for him (and me) to look after the children in the family from being babies upwards including weekend stays once they were toddlers. He is very involved with his DNs who adore spending time with him and vice versa. The people who know him trust him to care for their children.

If we became unwell then or were hospitalised then we would do the same as every other parent in this situation. Fall back on family and friends. Absolutely any parent could end up in hospital for a period of time, so I don't see why that should be a factor. In the last 10 years we have never both been very unwell at the same time thankfully although it's not impossible. We also have a very comprehensive professional support network.

i think your instinct that the combination of problems could be an issue. until you reach the point and start the process you cant be sure but you are wise not to put all your hope into it.

I think you are right I'm not sure it's even worth the heart ache of going down that route.

OP’s posts: |
Ted27 Fri 09-Mar-18 17:13:37

SWs are all about minimising risk. People who are overweight, have other medical conditions often have problems with adoption. I was given a hard time because I'm single.

You really won't know until you apply and an SW looks at your circumstances.
But honestly, you should park this for now. You are going to have fertility treatment which is stressful enough as it is. Focus on that, cross the adoption bridge if and when you come to it.
good luck

Womblewobble Fri 09-Mar-18 17:38:56

I wasn’t meaning to imply that your dh would actually harm a child. Just that mental health issues can present serious problems. I had been depression free for years, and had always sought help when it did occur. However I was hit by horrendous post adoption depression after our child was placed. I was more vulnerable to it. My husband was fine, I’m not sure what would have happened if he had also suffered problems. You two will also be more vulnerable, especially as it Is both of you.

Others are right though, it isn’t really worth spending any time thinking about whilst you are going down the ttc route. Adoption is a very difficult thing and it has taken a lot of support for me to be ok and for us to be a happy family.

Womblewobble Fri 09-Mar-18 17:42:56

And I would like to add that a social worker would say that although you have never been hospitalised at the same time, you both would have never had a child to look after either. If one were hospitalised, the other would have themselves and a child to look after, which is completely different and could cause a lot of pressure.

I sound like I’m being a picky cow but I’m trying to give you an idea about how sw think about these things. Ours was lovely but bloody hell the woman went over every single scenario...with good reason!

Cassie9 Fri 09-Mar-18 18:21:16

I think the only way you'd get an answer to this is sitting down with an adoption social worker and explaining your personal circumstances. It's not as black and white as if you have this condition your excluded. Every adopter/couple is different. I think you would need to prove your conditions are well managed, you know when to seek help and you have a support network and plan if you have a period of ill health. It may seem harsh but the social workers priority is finding families for the children not finding children for ppl desperately wanting a family. Good luck with your treatment x

thomassmuggit Fri 09-Mar-18 18:35:54

Without meaning to sound harsh, you may get approved, if you have a great support network etc, and your medical is supportive. There are rights of appeal around approval, and agencies don't want to be discriminatory.

But being approved doesn't mean you get to adopt.

Matching is subjective, and relies on one or two social workers' opinion of you, based on your paperwork, and maybe one meeting. There is no right to appeal in matching. You'll be in direct "competition" with families whose "cons" list does not contain psychosis and addiction. The SWs are looking for the best family for each child, and, brutally, an ex addict with psychosis is very very rarely going to be the best option to SWs. Matching is brutal. It's not a waiting list, where as long as you wait long enough, you will get a child.

You could battle to get approved. And then wait forever, and never get your child.

You don't need to be perfect to adopt. But you can't have too many weaknesses, either.

thomassmuggit Fri 09-Mar-18 18:59:30

Essentially, what I'm trying to remind you of is that, unlike ivf, adoption isn't a service for infertile adults. It's a family finding option for children who have had something bad and sad happen.

pinkdonkey Fri 09-Mar-18 21:00:39

Essentially, what I'm trying to remind you of is that, unlike ivf, adoption isn't a service for infertile adults. It's a family finding option for children who have had something bad and sad happen.

This is absolutely DHs reason for being keen to adopt. He didn't have a great childhood and wants to give kids a great life.

Anyway thanks for everyone's input. I mainly wanted to confirm my susspision that this wasn't an option for us so I can temper DHs expectations. I think it's useful going into the fertility treatment already aware there no likely to be other options for us.

OP’s posts: |
RandomMess Fri 09-Mar-18 21:07:04

The other thing to understand is that become parents is incredibly stressful and more likely to trigger a period on being unwell. For an adopted child to then be moved elsewhere to family would usually be very traumatic.

All the best with your treatment flowers

thomassmuggit Fri 09-Mar-18 22:07:08

This is going to sound contrary, but one of the things that ring SWs alarm bells is anyone on a 'rescue' mission, or working out their own trauma. The kids have enough trauma to share!

Good luck with the fertility treatment.

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