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Anyone adopted a child as a single parent with a birth child?

(26 Posts)
catintheworld Fri 01-Jun-18 22:31:28

I am thinking about it. My child is 8. Our family feels too small and I would love another child. However I worry about whether I could manage the challenges it may bring and the disruption to our life as it is now. Also how it might feel to adopted child to have their sibling going to stay with their Dad, when the adopted child would not have a Dad as I would adopt as a single parent.

Would love to hear from anyone who has done this or from coupled
adopters who have adopted when already have a birth child. Do you think this would be too hard without a partner? My concern is that I have a very close relationship with my child after 8 1/2 years and it might rock my child's world having to share with a sibling, likely with problems due to what they have been through.

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ladymelbourne1926 Sat 02-Jun-18 07:29:29

I have, I'll be back later to reply properly.

catintheworld Sat 02-Jun-18 11:25:01

thank you ! I was not expecting any replies because it is unusual so this has made my day to hear someone has done the same.

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2old2beamum Sat 02-Jun-18 15:32:03

2 friends (not together!) one had 1DS and went on to adopt 2 separately and the other one had 2 homegrown DCs and then adopted 4. However there was no father on the scene so your worry regarding visiting did not arise.
We as a couple had 3 DCs and have adopted several, 8 blush
Good luck what ever you do!

Ted27 Sat 02-Jun-18 18:52:41

Its not that unusual for people with birth children to adopt.
I'm a single adopter, with one child.

You do need to think very carefully about why you want to adopt. You already know that single parenthood is hard, single adoptio is even more challenging.
You are right to think about the impact on your existing child.
Adopters make all sorts of family set ups work, but it can also go very wrong.
At this stage I think you should be researching why children end up in the care system, the problems they can have, attachment theory, etc, before deciding if its the route you want to take.

catintheworld Sat 02-Jun-18 23:38:40

Thank you 2old and Ted.

I have done a fair bit of reading and thinking around it for a couple of years now and it is the additional needs that an adopted child might bring and how it will affect my birth child that give me cold feet. That and the inequality of one child having a father in their life and one not and somehow feeling less than, because of it.

Ted, what do you recommend I read? I have read every post on every adoption forum over the years. I keep hearing The Primal Wound is a must read - but you mention also researching how children end up in the care system. Is there anywhere other than general adoption forum threads that I could start with?

My other worry is that with a birth child, what if I have a closer bond with my first child and as a unit of three, my adopted child is aware of this and feel a third wheel? I imagine if there are two parents and an adopted child and a birth child, then the balance is more equal - kids vs parents.

One day I am sure this is what I want to do, the next I am filled with fear of things going wrong. It's the 1 adult plus 1 birth child + 1 adopted child bit that scares me most, the unequal balance as when you are 1 adult + 1 child, you end up a very tight unit and this would completely rock life as the two of us know it. Quite possibly for the best! But what if it is too challenging.

If I had a partner, I would go ahead with it tomorrow!

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Ted27 Sun 03-Jun-18 12:19:36

Well thats the big question isnt it - what if its too challenging? Which can happen if there are two or one parents.
Truth is adoption is a gamble, you have to weigh up the risks. Your existing child may be the one who is pushed out because of the higher needs of the adopted child.
As a single parent you need to think very seriously about finances and work. What if the needs of the child are so great you cannot work or need to reduce hours. Whats your support network like.
Children generally end up in care because of neglect and abuse, caused by:
drugs, alcohol, domestic violence, parents with mental health problems, learning difficulties, poverty, homelessness. Some parents, like my son's, come from the care system and can barely look after themselves, let alone a child.
You need to be looking at how these things can impact on a child - things like developmental trauma, FASD, ASD and ADHD, attachment disorders.
Dan Hughes, Holly Van Goulden, Bryan Post are good places to start. Also have a look at Adoption UK, they have a message board for parents with birth children.

catintheworld Sun 03-Jun-18 14:02:18

Thank you Ted for taking the time to reply and give so many good reading and research suggestions. I really appreciate it. smile

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EdinLS Sun 03-Jun-18 21:13:53

To add to the reading list - Known To Social Services, and the books by Hope Daniels/Jenny Molloy give a very raw insight into life for children before & during the care system. Emotionally very tough reads though.

(Jenny & Hope are the same author under different pen names.)

mountainbarr Sun 03-Jun-18 23:06:09

I did. It's probably not as uncommon as you'd think.

I would worry far more for your BC feeling pushed out that any AC feeling like a third wheel.

catintheworld Sun 03-Jun-18 23:34:02

Thanks Edin - I will take a look.

I feel quite informed about the issues and worries. I still want to adopt - I think. This is why I want to hear from anyone who is a single parent with a birth child and how it was adding a second child into the family.

Mountainbarr, if you are happy to share more of your experience, either here or by PM, I would be really grateful. My child already struggles to share my attention and though often states they want a sibling, I am not sure the reality would be quite the same and obviously you can't send them back so it is a decision I need to be sure of before I proceed.

How old was your BC when you adopted and did you have a lot of family support? Does your BC resent your second child? Do they get on or is it like raising two only children? Any advice on how to manage the issue of one having a dad and the other not. Though BC dad would likely be a support in his own way so child would still have a relationship with him but more as an uncle than a father.

I read a disturbing post somewhere about a family whose BC and AC did not get on at all, completely different personalities and constant aggression - the family coped by raising them as two only children, taking it in turns to take them out separately. Obviously this would not be so easy as a single parent.

The other thing I keep hearing is how adopted children can be fine when younger but seem to go off the rails in their teenage years and that it wold be better to just enjoy my child and our relationship, this from two people I know who work in education.

I'd like to hear honest experiences and whether people in my situation regretted it / would do it again.

I want another child.It would make my family feel complete. I work with young adults and have experience of some of the issues Ted lists above, this does scare me as I have seen some challenging behaviour.
But I also feel I would be able to deal with it.

It is the practicalities of single parenting a child with additional needs that concern me. That and the strain on my BC.

I'm rambling a bit here trying to get all my thoughts down!

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Ted27 Tue 05-Jun-18 18:49:49

the practicalities ? My son has ASD, a mild learning difficulty, sensory issues, anxiety, a few other bits and bobs,

He is also quite sociable, has friends, likes school. On one level we are quite an ordinary family. In other ways not so much.
Dealing with his conditions is more emotionally draining and energy zapping than anything else. Most parents just have to deal with annual parents evening and the school play. You need to factor in appointments and assessments, possibly appeals. You may need to apply for EHC plan for school, apply for DLA. I always seem to have a form to fill in. You may have to fight to get the support you need. You may not always get it. We have had therapy over the last couple of years which has been time consuming and emotionally tough.
This is where it starts to impact on work and finances. I have a civil service job, flexible working. But I work part time. I try to get all the appointments, form filling etc done on the non working days. I can also get to my ASD support group. I am very lucky, when I adopted there was more money around. I get an adoption allowance which is very generous and is what enables me to work part time. For tax purposes, it doesnt count as my income, so I also get tax credits. He is also in receipt of DLA. So financially I am quite comfortable, although benefits form a big chunk of my income. I'm not entirely happy with that, if I didn't get them I would have to work full time and that would be a lot more stressful for both of us.
We have been very lucky with schools, which helps enormously. My son saves any behaviorial issues just for lucky old me. But because he is well behaved in school and elsewhere he can access after school activities, residentials etc. He also went through cubs and beavers and is now a Scout. I love Scout camp !!!! It provides me with respite, gives us a break from each other, he is happy, looked after, is challenged and gets to lots of different things.
So - practicalities - think about work, finances, support and respite.

catintheworld Mon 11-Jun-18 20:39:14

I missed this post until yesterday. Thank you for sharing your experience, Ted. It's useful to hear the extra challenges you deal with. Have you ever considered adopting a second or do you feel it would be too hard as a single parent? I am well used to parenting one child on my own but do wonder how I would find time to manage two.

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Ted27 Tue 12-Jun-18 01:02:52

I would have liked another child but my personal circumstances didnt really stack up in terms of finance, work, support. I was nearly 47 when my son came home, I'm 53 now, my son will be 21, when I am 60. I didnt want to be dealing with teenage stuff in my 60s. I think I would struggle to work with 2, so there are financial implications. You do also need to think about your own long term finances. My pension has taken a huge hit because of part time working. At 53 I don't have a great deal of time to recover my finances.
If I was 10 years younger, my finances , and energy levels, would be in better shape - so maybe, but it just doesnt work for me.
I do know many single adopters with more than one child, some crazy people with 3. They are younger than me, most of them are teachers so manage because of the holidays, one can't work because of the children's needs, a couple work full time and its a struggle, some work part time. We all make it work.

flowersinspring Wed 13-Jun-18 20:46:27

I'm in a similar position to you in that I am just starting on the process. I have one Bc aged four and want so much to expand out family. But like you I am not sure how going from such a tight team of two to a three would work, our life is so good now I worry about making a bad decision that would impact on my DC.

catintheworld Wed 13-Jun-18 22:02:29

that is exactly my fear, flowersinspring. I swing between the two daily. I'd love to hear from someone who has actually done this.

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catintheworld Wed 13-Jun-18 22:21:27

ted27, your thoughts about work and finances are useful. I work part time at the moment and live on a relatively tight budget. If I adopt, I will have to cut back the activities that my BC does, at the moment I am able to offer opportunities level to that of a couple with a healthier income.

The benefits of a sibling would, hopefully, balance out the less busy schedule of after school activities. One of the reasons we do so many is as on only child, I want my child to have plenty of social interaction.

Ted, did you adopt your child as an older child then?

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Ted27 Thu 14-Jun-18 11:42:02

yes he was nearly 8.

To be honest, I think if a second child would strain your finances I would be very cautious.

Don't assume that they would be natural playmates, what if your child resents having to give up their after school activities?

catintheworld Thu 14-Jun-18 22:55:15

I like to hear of people adopting older children as they are so hard to place. I sometimes wonder to wait a few more years and then take an older child in.

I would not assume they would be natural playmates. It would be nice but the potential age gap, even if I did it now, would make this unlikely. I still feel the benefits of a sibling, a wider family circle, and hopefully more love, would outweigh any financial disadvantages.

As for after school activities. I would simply reduce them, as I would imagine many parents of two or more children have to do. I don't imagine my BC would notice or draw a correlation between the two.

Money would be tight. However, I don't know if this is a reason to be cautious. There are much larger families that rely on a one parent income. How would a child with autism/ FAS/ attachment issues cost more? I'm not being difficult - I'm genuinely interested if I am missing a point.

People's attitudes to adopting tend to be a knee jerk negative - oh, I wouldn't, be grateful for your one healthy child. It gives me cold feet!

Is there anyone here who has an AC and a BC who is willing to share honestly whether the bond feels the same and whether they feel they could have managed integrating a second child into their family on their own?

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Ted27 Thu 14-Jun-18 23:50:22

having a child with a disability just tends to cost more for all sorts of reasons.
You may have to pay for therapies or private assessments because you can't wait for two years on a list. When my son arrived he couldn't run, throw or catch a ball, had very poor hand eye co-ordination, sensory issues. He should have been receiving occupational therapy which he never got. So I paid for a personal trainer to work on these skills with him. £18 an hour, every week for three years. He needed a lot of physical exercise - swimming three times a week plus tennis lessons. Just about kept him calm, worth it but it costs
When he did his cycling proficiency, normally 6 hours, its took him 20 hours, so it cost more.
Breakages and damages, I've had to replace doors, sofas, beds. £1,000 of flooring because he went through a phase of peeing on the floor, beds, up the curtains, my house smelt like a public toilet. Carpets had to go.
He was bedwetting until 11, went through two mattress, replacement sheets, waterproof sheets to take with us if away from home, night time pull ups for an 10/11 year old arent cheap.
A 9 year old in a rage can do an awful lot of damage to your house.
Odds pieces of equipment - £40 for a writing slope.
They lose much more than the average child. Last term he lost two pairs of trainers, his PE kit, two watches and broke his glasses in the space of two weeks.
Maybe you will have lots of hospital appointments - parking charges at hospitals can be expensive.
If you want to go on holiday you might find you need to go to places which cater specifically for their needs, which can be costly. I've paid more to get a specific hotel with specific facilities, or to travel at a particular time.
Thats just off the top of my head. He receives middle rate Disability living Allowance - which is just as well. I've needed it.
And just to say that my son is far more able than a lot of children I know with ASD

catintheworld Sat 16-Jun-18 15:27:45

Ted27, this is certainly an eyeopener and that is exactly what I came on here for, to hear people's stories and challenges. Thank you for sharing that.

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bichonbaby Fri 22-Jun-18 18:08:05

I am a single parent/adopter, have a 13yo birth child and a 3yo adopted child. Happy to answer any questions smile

catintheworld Sat 23-Jun-18 14:19:51

bichonbaby - very excited to have found with my situation. Thank you!

So many questions, where to start?

How old was your little one when you adopted?
How did your older child take to having to share attention after so many years of being an only?
Are your kids the same gender? Was this a decision you made due to your circumstances - to reduce rivalry?/ be more likely to have stuff in common?
What is your support network like?
Was it very much harder to manage the demands of two than one?

and honestly, knowing what you do know, would you do it all over again?

Happy to pm if you prefer not sharing here and hope you don't mind all my intrusive questions.

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ClarindaDazzle Sun 24-Jun-18 17:48:27

I am a single parent / adopter - just coming up to our first anniversary as a family of 3. My BC was 7, my AC was 4, now they are 8 and 5. My eldest stays with her Dad regularly and my AC and I use that time to do things that are just for the two of us, then on the other weekends we do things for the three of us. There have been ups and downs but the two of them are siblings now - they are best friends some times and at opposite ends of the house at other times. My BC did struggle a little bit with the idea that my AC and I were doing things that she was "missing out" on (even though she would be doing lots of fun and exciting things with her Dad too) and for me, that was more frequent occurrence than AC asking about not going to a Dad's at a weekend. Managing the demands of two has been harder than managing one, but in other ways it's easier - they both disappear into the garden to play together for example. I have found the 24-7 part harder with my AC as there are no breaks at all, ever. With my BC there are times that she goes to her Dad's so I had natural slots built in where I could go shopping or do something just for me and it is harder without those breaks. Sorry, I'm rambling a bit. In short - I've done it too, it's hard, but with really good bits too!

catintheworld Thu 28-Jun-18 22:28:35

Thanks Clarinda, really useful to hear your experience as a single adopter for number 2. Can I ask if you miss the one on one time and the closeness you had with your BC or do the advantages of growing your family overtake the loss of that? I imagine my BC would find it very very hard to share me.

Did you get a say in whether you went for a boy or a girl? I genuinely have no preference, or perhaps a slight leaning to a boy as I have a daughter. It seems a strange thing to request but I wonder if an opposite sex child would make rivalry a bit less with the eldest being knocked off their perch!

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