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When will it get better?(26 Posts)
We have 3 very soon to be adopted little ones, 5,6 and 7, who have been with us for 6 months. It's been tough going, as we fully expected with 3, we have some good moments which we try to hold on to. We understand that all the behaviour that we are getting is communication and we're doing our best to use PACE, although we don't always get it right.
When will it get better? Will it ever get better? There are times where I find it hard to like them, never mind love them. I'm so worn down with constantly walking on eggshells to avoid the latest 4 hour violent meltdown. They can be such angry little people, of course they are, they have a lot to be angry about.
Our support network has largely disappeared, although we have been fortunate to meet new people who seem to understand (also adopters) Family and friends attitude is, you made your bed so lie in it.
Writing here as I don't have anywhere else to say this. The guilt feeling like this is eating me up.
Did anyone else feel the same and did it get better?
I don’t know when it will get better but you are not alone. We had a good few years and then the last six months, I have hated my life, hated the constant stress and worry. Can’t cope with the violent outbursts of either DS1 (7) or DS2 (3).
You are not alone but I think it does go in waves. I think there will be ups and downs and I think you will get through this period. We went through a horrid period for 2 months about 4 years ago - and we got through it and it did get better.
What support are the SWs giving you? How is behaviour at school? Maybe you should postpone adoption until you have all the therapy in place.
It is a long process, a journey.
Hang in there - you are not alone.
three at once is absolutely huge, and 6 months is still such early days for you all. You don't have anythung to feel guilty about.
Are the meltdowns coming from all three? Can you identify the triggers? Are you getting support from your SW? You might want to consider delaying applying for your AO whilst you establish what theraputic needs they have
I don't have any great advice to offer, I only have one so very different to you. But on a practical level - I really hope you are getting adoption allowance. I take it they are all in school by now. Do not feel guilty about using that time as respite for you. Go for a walk, the gym, sleep - whatever makes you feel better. If you don't already can you buy in help for cleaning, ironing etc. Give yourself some time and space to recuperate. And pick your battles - for example if they only want to eat chicken nuggets, let them, it doesnt matter at the moment. All you need to do is get food down then, dressed and off to school. Get as much of a routine going as you can and stick to it - it provides a sense of security.
My own experience is yes, it does get better, but it takes time. Seven years in I still only work part time, I need the time away from work and him to recharge and regroup.
I'm on a similar timescale to you...6 months in. It really is such early days. For us and our two some days are very different to other days, mine are 3 and 4. We haven't had any major issues (so far), but some days I really struggle and think why did I do this I don't think I'm cut out for this, they are gorgeous kids, but I'm not sure I love them yet.
You have no reason to feel guilty, we always think about how the children will cope and manage and rarely give enough credit or thought to ourselves. You've gone from 0 - 3 kids overnight...walking, talking, wilful, fully formed little people, generally there is a slow build up to this for parents and you've gone full throttle! You are doing amazingly.
Can you identify the pinch points and work on the ones causing the biggest trouble one at a time? Can you ditch anything from the situation that just adds to the stress.
I try to get mine out whenever I can, they are in a few classes such as rugby tots they go to and because of their age I have to join in with them, we tend to get trouble if we stay in all day, we all get cabin fever and I can feel the tension build. Hopefully when the weather warms up it will be much better too. There is a large field to the back of the house, I imagine many afternoons may be spent on there with a football (knackering them out).
I'm sorry your support network has backed off, that must make it hard. Can you arrange a soft play 'play date' with one of the other adopters you have met so the kids can burn off some energy whilst you have a coffee and a friendly ear?
I’ve pm’d you.
It does get better, but it’s hard - you’ve got 3 new little people all with their own needs and you and your partner have your needs to. And they don’t always (hardly ever) align. I also found the first Christmas and holiday period bloody awful, my two were massively dysregulated (which family members mistook for excitement 🙄) and I just couldn’t do enough to help soothe them. This year was much better but it’s only been in the last week that they’ve both returned to their usual self.
What you’re feeling is ok - I’m bloody furious on your behalf about the whole “you’ve made your bed” thing, what an utter nonsense. I’ve found my supports and completely changed with my kids - for the better - but that just adds another dynamic to cope with. Hang on in there x
We too are 6 months in but we “only” have 2 and will often say “gosh one must be easy, three must be horrific” - we find two blinking hard work!
Im not sure it’s possible to be a perfect PACE parent on every occasion 100 percent of the time. Our DDP therapist actually really dislikes the fact us parents trying so hard to be therapeutic often feel not good enough because we can’t always be the PACE parent we want to be. She lhas encouraged us to see PACE as a framework for conversation with our children rather than a parenting style. We are still early days so are kind of winging it too. We are lucky in that we do feel love for them and wouldn’t be without them but we know this will deepen as of course will their attachment to us but we don’t always like what our children do. We just hope we can have a positive future even if some (most) days are pretty tough going.
I’m sad that your support network are not there for you. I wonder if you’re anything like me and feel guilty “complaining” - I think other people must think “god she’s moaned for 9 years about not having a family and now she’s got one she’s still moaning - no pleasing her”. I don’t believe anyone really thinks that but I just worry that they do. Is there anyone you can enlist support from? You’ve taken on such a massive challenge be kind to yourself. I think you’re pretty incredible - 4hour violent meltdowns would be difficult for even the most experienced parents.
Lots of self care when you can get it x
We too are 6 months in but we “only” have 2 and will often say “gosh one must be easy, three must be horrific” - we find two blinking hard work!
We say this in jest of course. Some single children can be more challenging than sibling groups of course. But 3 cannot be easy xxx
Congratulations! It must be very difficult to go from no children to suddenly having 3 and 6 months is no time at all. 3 children is hard work. Take it slowly, give yourself time, don’t stress over unimportant details. Try and have fun. It will get better good luck!
I'm so glad you posted. I really recommend you joining the National Association of Therapeutic Parents it's such a supportive non judgemental community. It was set up by Sarah Naish who adopted 5 siblings and recognised the need for support from people who get it! They have listening circles in each area. Her book The A-Z of Therapeutic parenting is fab to dip in and out on for specific issues so if you haven't already got it it could be really helpful. There's also a fab Fb group for non members - Therapeutic Parenting - it has hands in a heart shape as the logo if you search for it. Hang in there sounds like you're doing amazingly even if it doesn't feel that way x
Thank you all for the replies and kind words. I'm not sure if I'm pleased to know we are not alone though, half hoping that everyone would say "don't worry, it's all great now". Not naive enough to really believe that though.
To answer back few questions:
Our SW is helpful and provides advice, the little ones SW is pretty much. We do have some helpful training coming up which our SW has organised.
They are all coping well at school and school are very supportive. They can regulate themselves there but of course we get the backlash from that, which is the way it should be I guess.
We won't postpone the AO, it would just delay something that we know we are going to do. If we didn't these kids would remain looked after for the rest of their childhoods, we were their last chance.
It can be all 3 but mostly it's the younger 2. They are all operating at emotionally younger ages and their outbursts reflect this. Our middle one is the most violent and a tantrum can happen our of nowhere.
Triggers are mostly around saying "no", they are all strong-willed with clear ideas of what they want. We know we need to get better at us being in charge and the grown ups without feeling we need to win "the battle". We also need to get better at knowing which battles to pick and what to let slide. For me I know I'm triggered by their defiance, even though I'm aware they are trying to test us.
We have a pretty good routine which we try hard to stick to and it does help them know what is happening next.
We do use the A-Z and find it helpful to a point.
I'm sure things will pick up, I'm just worri d that I'm going to feel this miserable for the rest of my life.
Man alive - three in one go <<faints and considers running away>>
Of course it gets easier. Really it does.
I have one ONE! adopted as a very cute 1 year old and I STILL found the first 3 months hard and struggled to bond. At some time between 3 and 12 months I bonded completely without noticing it happening.
We're 12+ years in now and he is my family, whatever issues there still are feel no harder to deal with than any other parent dealing with a moderate degree of SEN.
The bad news - I suspect that most parents struggle with the defiance thing, I'm not sure that ever gets better! It's how you know you're a paretn rather than a disinterested bystander. It still has the ability to make me see red.
Mostly I try to be the best practice parent as often as I can and try not to be too hard on myself the rest of the time. It's seems to be a good enough approach, and whilst I'm not in line for any parent of the year awards, we're still here, still alive and most of the time (despite the teenage attempts at sabotage) happy.
Good luck - it's sounds like you're doing a pretty damn competent job and you probably won't notice the improvement until you look back in six months and say to each other "what a big change!"
Sorry just noticed this - you made your bed so lie in it
Fuck that for a game of soldiers!!!
That applies to every parent ever. Are no parents ever allowed to ask for help support ever because they wanted a family?
Focus on those people who ARE supportive (new or old) they are your tribe, the others are just window dressing. Pretty but pontless.
If “no” is a trigger, it might be worth trying to avoid saying no. I say that as someone who felt like ever other word out of my mouth was “no” at volumes ranging from a whispered prayer to an all out bellow...
What works for my oldest is redirecting, distracting, phrasing it positive in what I want so instead of “no you can’t throw Lego at me”, I’d try “show me how to play with your Lego” or “let’s put the Lego away now” or simply “put the Lego down”, depending on time and patience. It meant I saved an outright no for things that had no room for negotiation.
It’s bloody hard work but if it’s the word (rather than the don’t do that sentiment), finding a new way of saying it can help. I also try to give an either/or choice to avoid getting to a defiant place if possible. So if they’re wanting to watch tv (incessantly) I might say they can play with bubbles or draw, watching tv isn’t one of the options available so if they say they want tv I’ll say we can talk about it later but just now their choices are x or y. It’s all in an effort to avoid a defiant standoff because that never ends well for anyone.
Thanks Kewcumber, you really made me laugh. And you're right, it is a ridiculous attitude. I was starting to think that they were right but fuck that for a game of soldiers 😂.
Jelly at you are definitely right, I really need to work on ways of not saying no while meaning it. I reckon I could do with a bit of a script. We use "kind hands" and that sort of thing as standard so will work on this.
Thanks all XX
Three at once. At that age. It's bloody heroic. We are frazzled with two.
It does get easier, but I think you should batten down the hatches and expect a few more hard months. Be willing to cut corners and take every chance for some you time. The exception is time and energy spent on routine, reinforcement and bonding- it really does pay off. Don't expect it to ever be like the training courses, it has to work for you.
Hello. Am trying to pm you but it won't work. Yes 3 is madness. I'm with you on that. There are ups and downs. Try and ride the waves! We try not to say no. Well, if you don't d x you can't do y. You don't want to get in the bath? Ok go straight to bed. Oh you do want a bath ok then..... etc etc. You've got this. It will get better x
I avoid using both no and but which can lead to some interesting phrases, I also try to say what I want rather than what I don't want.
It sounds like you're already aware of Sarah Naish's work. I'd really recommend 'but he looks so normal' it's available on kindle unlimited and if you don't have a subscription you can get a one month free trial. It'll make you laugh out loud and better understand what you're going through.
I can't say "Don't worry, it's all great now". But I can say that it is a hell of a lot better. We are four years in with two boys and there were times in the first year that I honestly thought we wouldn't get through. DS1 has lots of anger issues and used to be violent with us. DS2 used to be so controlling it was unreal. What worked for me (other than wine) was attending a course on attachment issues and understanding where their behaviours were coming from. This led onto attachment therapy for both boys which has given them an understanding of where their behaviours come from - well, it's working slowly for DS1, DS2 has refused to engage, so his therapy is 'on-hold' at present.
I found the worst episodes were the ones that really triggered me and I felt so guilty when my Therapeutic Parenting regularly came crashing down and I ended up shouting back and losing control. I have been lucky that I have been able to access therapy to explore why this was happening and became much better at remaining calm, empathic and even therapeutic. I have also joined the NATP and have started going to a listening circle - meeting other people in similar situations really helps. It's still not perfect at home and as it's DS1's 13th birthday on Friday, we are entering moody-teenage territory, so the challenges continue.
I started a thread on this board not long into our placement asking when things would get better and I think I even said something about not knowing how to love someone who I didn't even like very much. It took some time, but I love my sons more than anything - and even like them most of the time!
I really recommend Tharaplay, if you can get some, it is a specific kind of play therapy. It helped my son a lot.
I;d also try and avoid no, so if they ask for something you would normally allow, just not now, then you could say yes but later.
I lost my cool tonight and swore, not good at all, we all make mistakes. (I mean swore at my child!) I feel terrible. I am struggling at times but there are also great times too. i think it is very up and down, like waves. I am birth parent too and I think it's quite similar as birth dd has special needs.
Please make sure you are looking after yourselves, whatever works, bubble baths, the occasional night out or a take away or whatever make life easier for you.
And you are doing something amazing, all parents do, it is amazing. XX
How are things now, OP?
This is advice from an adoptee who was adopted from care with siblings at a similar age - if you don't think it will be useful don't read on! I apologise in advance for length.
I think you are right to be aware that there are going to be reasons for the behaviour, even though that doesn't make it easier to deal with. It is pretty horrific going into care. It is terrifying being surrounded by adults who do not know or understand you or love you or like you much (and yes, as much as the adults try to hide it, children know!).
In relation to hours of screaming, giving support and dealing with root cause is good, but if it is related to trauma and being "in brain stem" then in my experience really good things to do are long, long walks, a lot, over a period of many months, trampolining, going for runs, in comfortable cosy clothing. The activity apparently helps reconnect brain and body and levels out hormones and emotions and in my experience works really, really well.
I would try very hard to not walk on egg shells as that will make them feel out of control and also give them the wrong sense of power. In case helpful, with my dc if I say something i know they aren't going to be happy about I say it and then jokingly run for cover as they bellow their fury, to make them laugh (as well as bellow).
Choose your battles as in don't sweat the small stuff...
...but they need to hear "no" when it is reasonable, together with your reasons. DC can handle it as long as they are getting the right emotional support, the latter thing being fundamental. If there is an emotional flood when you say "no" then that (letting out an emotional flood) can be a positive thing, if they are getting the right support. When they shout and scream it may be that the message is "I have lost everything and now you are taking this away from me too" but that is a reason to give support, not to try to avoid the feelings. I also think that certainty and clarity is better - what does "not now" or "yes but later" mean? It is better to be clear so that they know exactly where they stand.
I wrote in another thread that in my case the SW and adoptive parents didn't have a full picture, which meant that there was a huge chasm between what I thought and felt and what the adults around me thought I'd think and feel, and that I didn't have the language and maturity to talk to them about it. I think in relation to this, working on emotional literacy really helps, and the sooner and better you know them well, the easier it will be to help them build foundations. Talk about thoughts and feelings a lot.
In relation to the advice from jellycat much is good but I would be cautious about the limiting choices technique. It was around when I was young and it can be seen by children as punishment, shaming, humiliating. Children need to make choices in order that they learn about themselves and how to handle life and how to recover from making mistakes. I would say it is better to say "no tv" and why and then allow free choices, with help and suggestions in the beginning.
Both my adoptive parents and I faced similar difficulties (I shouted and screamed a lot) and this is advice with hindsight. However, given that everything you do will have an impact, it would be good to chat it all over with a psychologist in real life too.
Not much to add to what others have said, except that in our case it has gradually got easier.
I think it was year 6 of full time motherhood (there were 3 years of being part time respite carer before that) when I realised how much my mental health had been affected by parenting children who had experienced early/complex trauma.
This is one of my favourite videos - how parenting traumatised children does make you slightly crazy yourself...! Great advice as well
I hope things are improving for you OP, I've been off the adoption board for a while but came back tonight and clicked on your post as it's something I often wonder. We are 21 months in with 3 aged 8, 6 and 4.
We put our AO in as we felt the same as you, it's something we would be doing whatever the time but please make sure your SW has put in the paperwork that support will be guaranteed from the authority, with us it was a promise of a minimum amount of therapy.
As I say, we often wonder if it will get better. For us the older two are most difficult, although youngest gives them a run for their money. And I especially find it very hard that its difficult to like them. Understanding that behaviour is communication doesn't always make it easier to deal with. We have a lot of lying, stealing, damaging of property and general unkindness towards each other, with violence towards myself and the other two from middle child. Their issues have been a lot more than we were told to expect. I'm not convinced keeping them together was the right decision by SW's and am also at a point where I would question the wisdom in allowing people to adopt 3 children at once. It has pushed us to the brink and our mental health has suffered hugely.
I'm sorry for posting so negatively, (a chance to vent, as like you real life support seems to have dwindled somewhat). I hope that you are seeing improvements however small and that things do get better for us both.
We adopted three around 6 months ago too, now 3, 5 & 7. It's been hard work and tiring. We tried with pace/therapeutic parenting but found it too much effort and now just handle things like any parent would.
We can often trace major dramas (haven't had violence) to changes in routine - school hols, returning to school, birthdays and sometimes just boredom. We've found it helps to always have some activities planned (especially things they've not done before) - the distraction can often defuse tension.
We've gone through with the AO now but sometimes wish we'd delayed it as it gives you more clout having the childrens' local authority's virtual school to support you with their school.
I think we need to give it least a year before evaluating things as they need that time to build the attachment and they'll hopefully calm and settle by then. If they're still the same then we'll cope.
I find it hard when the older ones talk about missing birth mum - I don't want to say anything negative about her as I know she loves them.. so I just tell them she's going to meet them again when they're older and that we will always be here to care for them.
I am amazed at how many people have adopted 3 in one go. Amazing. We adopted two separately and it has been beyond hard but I am so glad we adopted I individually because I dont think we would have coped with 2 together as I originally wanted.
Wish there were some more positive stories
Hello, we adopted 2 about 5 years ago - I remember at 6mo in thinking it wasn’t quite as shitty as at 4 months in... it will get better.
My eldest is shockingly defiant and also doesn’t like hearing no (it’s not the word, it’s the not-getting-own-way thing). I get round it quite a lot by imagining what she might expect out of any given day/activity and telling her it’s not going to happen before she goes off on a flight of fantasy about it. So ‘we’re going to the shop where I’ll not be buying you sweets because we’re just picking up some bread’, or ‘we’re going to have lunch in this cafe but it’ll just be a quick bite, we won’t be having pudding’. (And as I’m writing this I realise how many of them are about sugary foods...)
Obviously that gets easier as you get to know them because you’ll know what they’ll be expecting/imagining.
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