Here are some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on adoption.
Children who have experienced chronic neglect(21 Posts)
Hi all. Hoping the group might have some useful expeiriences to share.
We are currently considering/being considered for two children who have experienced chronic neglect. They are still very young, 1 and 2. They have been in a couple of foster placements, one of which wasn’t very good. They are displaying some behaviours which could be red flags for the future, we just don’t know.
What sort of questions should be asking and what has people’s experiences been with children from this kind of background?
Thank you in advance x
I guess my biggest fears here are attachment and the extreme end of children with attachment difficulties. Their CPR says they have an “attachment disorder” so my mind is wandering to RAD or something similar. I suspect it’s terminology but we will be asking if a formal diagnosis has been given. (Can they even be diagnosed that young?)
So much to consider - I guess sometimes it weighs heavy as to whether or not we think we can deal with the extreme ends of issues, we want to make sure we are truly prepared. (We recognise we may never be!)
Severe neglect is far far more damaging than abuse, especially in children so young. The fact that they already have diagnoses of attachment disorder at 1 and 2 speaks volumes.
If it’s correct the these children will need a very high level of therapeutic parenting and may always struggle to cope in a family setting. Whether they are young enough to turn things around is anyone’s guess.
I’d want to speak to their psychiatrist/ psychologist / therapist or at least read detailed reports now and meet later, and be asking what interventions they are receiving now and what will happen once they are placed .
Attachment disorder won’t go away because they move house.
I should add that I wouldn’t consider it if I already had children at home.
And I’d also consider very carefully if I was married or in a partnership. Two children with attachment disorder will spilt up the strongest of relationships and even one can wreck an average one.
Wow that’s helpful. Sometimes I wonder if I make it worse in my head and someone verbalising their thoughts like you have is definitely food for thought. Thank you.
Was the neglect in birth family? And then more than one foster family placement? That's a lot to experience by age 1 and 2, as of course you're thinking. Neurologically their pathways are going to have formed that adults cannot keep them safe, there are most likely going to be challenges around controlling behaviour, fear, and emotional regulation. Therapeutic parenting can help rewire and form new brain pathways but it is very very time-consuming and draining, over years and years. My number one question in your shoes would be where will your long-term support come from? Only you can know whether you feel able to parent these children, and it's your resilience that will really matter (and really be put through its paces). Good luck, however you decide to proceed.
Yes it was in the birth family and then they had 6 months or so with a foster carer who by the sounds of it had concerns raised to the standard of care given. They are now in a placement which is nurturing and appanrently they are coming along in leaps and bounds but I still worry.
I’m not sure parenting can be considered easy, let alone parenting an adopted/traumatised child however I just wonder if this is just too much towards the other end of the scale. We will really think about that. Thank you.
Definitely speak with all the experts you can and don’t rush. They are very young but that means they will be a handful as they are so close in age. I think siblings aged 1 and 2 without neglect would be a lot to handle! Remember you may not be able to even parent them in the same way, they could have extremely different needs and that could pull you in opposite directions.
I have no experience of adoption. And possible have no right to input here. I watch these threads with interest as I also hope to adopt.
I agree with the above comments. Although I’m not sure if severe neglect is worse than abuse? I think all child maltreatment can have a devastating impact on children.
They will have attachment issues/disorder, most children who have experienced a traumatic start in life do. Parenting them will be challenging as It may take some time to bond with them and they will find it difficult to develop trust in you. They will test you and possible push boundaries. They will need therapeutic input. There could be challenges in the future for example psychological needs/ learning needs and behaviour which challenges.
I would look at this holistically, how has their beginning shaped them cognitively , physically and emotionally up until this point? For example:
Are they meeting all their milestones?
What is their relationships like with the adults in their world?
What is there relationship like with each other?
Do they have any physical heath needs?
I would also want to know what support will you and DH receive in meeting their needs short term and long term.
It is also important to hold a balance view, with the right support, love and opportunities these children could thrive and you could experience very happy times as well as challenges.
I have worked with many abused children who have great resilience and lead great lives as well as and birth children who have experienced good parenting but have severe mental health needs. The future is unknown for all of us.
I will conclude that these children need parents who are passionate and confident that they could meet their needs and give them their stable environment they require.
I would be asking about the assessment that has been done on placing them together vs separately.
If the ‘not very good’ foster placement was with experienced foster carers, I’d be wondering why it ‘wasn’t very good’ and looking for explanations for that (for example, maybe the DC had significant issues...). I’d also not take much the SWs say at face value about this, because they are not experts. And I know SWs often blame adoptive parents when things go south (rather than the children's past trauma) so I’d wonder if they’d done the same here with the foster carers.
Yes I thought that too about the FC Tl:dr. If the placement was poor then the children should have been removed immediately. Which makes me think that in fact everyone thought the placement was fine at the time. But now the children are not doing as well as people hoped, they decide its the FC fault.
Especially if it’s a passing comment from a SW, rather than the outcome of an investigation which resulted in these F.C. being deregistered.
Dunno, just guessing.
I don’t like to be controversial, but this reads like a very negative post. I know it’s important to highlight the challenges but these children are very young and already been ‘written off’. There is an assumption that they will grow up to have great difficulties and an unnecessary blame on social workers. I hope these children find parents who will do everything they can to give them a better life and take responsibility for their parenting. I will not be reading this post again.
Okay Nikki, come back when you’re prepared to adopt two potentially very troubled children yourself.
OP, don’t listen to guilt-mongers. You’ve got to do what is right for your family - it’s not your responsibility to rescue all the children. (Obviously you can choose to, but do it with your eyes open and not because someone like Nikki tells us all off...)
Google image search The Allen Report 2011 , the front cover is a picture of two children's brains , both three years old one has been severely neglected , the other not. Severe neglect and the behaviours and development issues associated with it cannot all be undone. A loving , stable and consistent home with therapeutic parenting can go a very long way , and these children are very young so there is much hope. But as others have said take your time , go into it with both eyes wide open and a very realistic view of what may be achievable and the time it may take and ensure social care have your back with this in terms of support.
I'd want to know whether the children have been diagnosed with attachement disorder or whether it's the social worker's way of saying they have attachment issues - attachment disorder is a pretty complex diagnosis and I'd imagine pretty challenging for a psychologist to diagnose in a pre-verbal child. That's not to say there may not be significant issues but social workers tend to throw around terms like attachment disorder without really understanding it from a clinical perspective (and I say that as a social worker).
I would want to talk to whoever made the diagnosis, if there is one, and find out what basis it's been made on - ie the presence of neglect doesn't in and of itself mean there will be an attachment disorder, but it does load the gun so to speak. What processes were used to diagnose, was it through observation, scans, developmental milestones etc and what is the prognosis for these two children. There will be attachment issues, but there are with all adopted children to some degree so knowing what you're looking at (as far as possible) will help enormously.
I would also want to know more about the poor foster placement, I have to say it's not necessarily the case that experienced foster carers will be good. My two DC had very different experiences in the same foster placement, one had a very good experience and the other did not to the point where most of the challenge we have at the moment is trying to resolve issues arising out of foster care. The issues with the placement were tolerated on the basis that my DC would be moving on and the foster carers offered a very flexible resource and could take sibling groups short term. While SW can place blame on foster carers to reassure parents that "they" will be able to do fine with children who are struggling - because the issue was with the carers - not all foster placements are good or even satisfactory.
In any event, having two children so close in age will bring it's challenges inevitably. I remember really sound advice during our search to make things as easy as possible for ourselves because the hard bits will come anyway, so don't invite trauma that you can avoid. Which isn't about writing children off, at all, it's about acknowledging that we all only have so much resilience, so much capacity for care and so much give and some children need more than you have to offer. It may be the case for these two little ones, it may not be. There may be another couple who are just right for them, that couple may be you and your partner but it's important to be asking some very hard questions now.
I think, personally, that once you have established the diagnoses and other facts, then if the situation is as serious as currently indicated you would want to know that you have clinical psychologists and psychiatrists who specialise in developmental trauma within physical reach (ie it depends on where you are in the country) and that there is package lined up in terms of cost. I am not sure how easy it is to locate such people now - I found it really hard to find anyone when my dc were young, but recently a practice called Beacon House near Brighton (I think) has been linked here. The key thing is funding for you, as I understand that before placement your negotiating position is stronger (awful way to look at it, I know!!) and if you post about that specifically you may well get some very focused advice!
In the past, RAD was diagnosed and seen as a lifetime sentence, but I think that the situation is different now, greater neurological understanding has given more insight and in relation to trauma and attachment therapies have moved on, it is a matter of accessing the right expertise, and research shows that many children who have suffered trauma from neglect can go on to do very well with the right support.
However, it will be a huge investment of time and energy.
Having said that, the children will also be little people in their own right, aside from the problems, so if the match was right it might well be perfect for you and it would be a matter of getting the right supports.
In relation to therapy, I have just posted this on another thread so it is on my mind - you might find it helpful - it is 25 mins long. I don't think the behaviours are referred to as "controlling" anymore incidentally but I might be wrong:
Trauma is not a static condition, as per the video (see Bruce, towards the end) and things should get better and better over time.
@nikkibahm please don't be put off, there is room for lots of different opinions.
Big thanks to everyone who has commented. Absolutely every view and experience is valid as we go forward with our discussions on these children. It really s helps us to formulate questions and also to remain open minded rather than just focus on the very “worst case scenario”. I do think we have to be prepared for the worst but also educated and resilient enough to help these children best we can. I do think all adopters need to have eyes wide open and attempt to truly understand the situation (best we can) in order to parent effectively however I don’t think we should write children off. I do think every adopter has a different view of the types of challenges they might be up for (or have skills for) and I do think that’s really important, it wouldn’t do it all adopters wanted the same child profile after all.
Thanks again everyone. Very grateful.
Thanks for the tip new about the brain and the Allen Report. Fascinating.
I’ve found that image really helpful at school for its shock value when they've tried their ‘but that was ages ago’ line on me.
tldr the image would change significantly over time, though, with the right therapy and stimulation. I am not supporting what your school have said, though, it doesn't sound helpful.
In relation to the report generally, I am not sure much has been done to implement the recommendations which is a bit depressing. I think that a summary of that info and the imagery should be the subject of leaflets given to all parents along with the early years activities which make a difference. Not the point of the thread, though, sorry.
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