Here are some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on adoption.
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New thread as requested!(22 Posts)
@moominmamaatsea the way you have described teens etc, it sounds as though this is the majority of adoptions, would you have any idea? And you have referred to the groups for parents of teenagers, is it a large group? And in relation to the genetic issue, is the fact that the dc are sort of pre programmed as you say seen as a sort of fait accompli, meaning there is very little you can do about it? Thank you.
@Popcornzoo you can ask your questions here!!
From what I have read, no-one really knows the answer to that. Even the most comprehensive research (e.g. Beyond the Adoption Order) does not really give an answer due to an element of self-selection among respondents, and only a few factors looked at e.g. age at adoption compared to later difficulties.
The figures they came up with for families 10-15 after adoption (i.e. teen years) were about 1/3 at breaking point or broken, 1/3 with significant difficulties but some progress, and about 1/3 ticking over with some ups and downs, but on the whole doing well.
Another factor is that research is usually a snapshot, and things can change drastically over time (both ways). When my older daughter was 15 she went back into care (pregnant, to be fostered by her boyfriend's extended family!), and tried to turn her younger sister (as well as SWs and boyfriend's family) against me. I agreed to her going because I did not trust her not to make false allegations to get her own way. To be honest, I was relieved she was gone, and I did not have the endless anger and hostility directed against me, I was emotionally and physically exhausted and on anti-depressents. I genuinely wondered whether we would manage to remain a family.
5 years later she is completing her secondary education, in frequent touch and visits us regularly, always remembers Mothers Day and my birthday , (I am going to parent's evening tonight ) and a great support to her little sister, who she will tell "don't make the mistakes I did". Five years ago we were at breaking point, now I would put us in the 1/3 of 'ups and downs but doing well overall'.
Now DD2 is staring at the teenage years
Also, a later age is often considered to make it more likely for adoptions to hit trouble in the teen years, but I know several adopters (and am one myself) who have adopted school age children and believe that it has been an advantage - by the time a child is in school it is far more likely that the major issues are visible. Plus, if the care was 'OK/good enough' in the first couple of years this has a bigger impact on brain development than good care later on.
But there are always exceptions to the rule, and the reasons some children are more resilient than others are not well understood.
To pick up one thing from the other thread.
Experienced adopters on the AUK forums talk of genetics and epigenetics and of how are children are almost preprogrammed to recreate the chaos and dysfunction from which they were removed in the first place.
Is this backed up by scientific, credible research? Biochemist here: no.
AUK can be a bit doom-mongery for my taste. Keep in mind that it's made up mostly of those who've had very hard times.
Epigenetics is in its infancy. Genetics is not destiny. Nurture is huge. You are not going to get a good understanding of the impact of either area on child development from a SW run adoption training course. I often wish SWs would not regurgitate the half-ideas they got in their training.
1. Genetics: the basic theory here is Eugenics. That our kids genetic parents were probably crap parents because they got a lot of crappy recessive genes and so will pass those on.
There is some truth to this, but not in the way that is spoken of in adoption circles:
- At a population level there is probably a marginal effect, but not at all meaningful for individuals.
- For specific identifiable conditions you can predict heritability quite well (e.g. if parents had schizophrenia there is a meaningful risk).
2. Epigenetics. The idea is that a poor in utero environment (alcohol, drugs, stress) will impact the switching on and off of certain portions of DNA in a negative way. This is true, but it means fuck all. We can't predict this stuff yet.
Most drugs don't seem to be too bad (surprisingly the long term effects of heroin are almost unmeasurable). Alcohol is bad, but unpredictable.
TL;DR- No one can predict the risks in adoption. The risks are higher than grow your own; but our kids are just kids- each one is an individual. Lots of adopted kids do great- I did.
Experience in adoption doesn't mean much unless you have adopted a few hundred times. I am classed as an "experienced" adopter. What does that mean? Well...I'm an expert in my kids. That's it.
I can sit and consider which biological parent they are like and I might be right. Means nothing in wider terms with no real scientific evidence. I suspect my daughter has her biological mother's personality. My daughter is doing well though. So I imagine that she is as her biological mother would have been if she hadn't herself ended up in the care system.
Quite frankly, adoption forums can be awful places because of the amount of knowledge that is spouted as absolute fact. It isn't. Adopted kids are people. I work with teenagers and believe me, I've seen it all. The vast majority aren't in care either or adopted. There are risks and the risks are higher but let's not decide that our children will turn out like their birth parents until we have absolute scientific proof. It would put a lot of people off adopting if there was literally no hope.
I don't mean to sound arsey by the way - I think it is a good subject to discuss!
Thanks for starting this thread. I am so glad that there are people who don't think that adoption is always hard and that adopted teenagers are always "worse" than birth teenagers.
Popcorn- the Internet is so unbalanced. Those of us who are ok don't tend to post because, well, we don't need support! Over my years here I have tried to balance threads. It doesn't always go down well but I remember researching adoption and being utterly convinced my life would be ruined as 99% of the stories online were horror stories. I believe in adoption so I add my tiny voice where I can in the interests of balance.
What thread was this one sporned from?
I'd like to see the start of the discussion!
We've had a hard 3.5 years with my AD1, ever since she started college. I don't think she has necessarily been 'worse' than birth teens, but being adopted complicates things.
She has at times seemingly rewritten the history of life with us, and also seems to be wanting to prove she can do nuclear family 'better' than birth parents.
Add to that the bond with me being less instinctive (on both sides) than with a birth child or even DD2 who was 5 years younger when adopted, makes it tough.
I've had to withdraw a bit because I was nearly broken at one point and I haven't fully recovered because of the regularity of upsets. I can't afford to care too much as my stress goes through the roof.
The thread was started as a poster said that one of the adoption sites they visit has lots of experienced adopters who believe adopted children will follow in their bp footsteps because of genetics solely.
Other posters asked for scientific evidence of this and this thread was created in order not to derail the other thread. So the discussion wasn't necessarily about who has a hard time in adoption, more the reasons behind it as saying it is completely genetic takes away any element of control we have if you see what I mean. The debate wasn't about whether adopted families go through hard times or not, more whether our children have no choice because genetically they will mimic their birth parents.
Sorry that was really long winded!
To be fair, I wasn't entirely sure what moomin was saying hence the questions on the other thread, ie I am not sure she was saying that the AUK threads said that genetics dominate, and I also wasn't sure whether she was referring to the genetic memory research. I wasn't asking for evidence, I just wanted more info.
AFAIK the genetic memory research says that we are born with certain dispositions in terms of behaviour, thought processes, personality. But it also says that children can be taught ways of thinking about things, given opportunities to learn and process, and that this will effectively rewire any negative predispositions.
I do think with adopted children it is harder, and also the child's needs are often more complex as a starting point. But entirely possible and a reasonable expectation. It isn't reasonable at all to expect a child to go off the rails and it isn't reasonable to think that it is inevitable and to think that there is little you can do to stop it.
It is however complicated and though some parents/families will deal with everything naturally, some will need professional input.
It is going to be easier if you know the child's background intimately.
Children will go off the rails as they hit hit teendom if their needs have not been met as younger children, ie if the help they have needed as a younger child has not happened. And I think the risk is high as the behaviour of younger children can masks problems - in the moment they are happy, so seem fine even if in fact there are many things not fine.
Based on my own experiences I think that the needs of most adoptive children are so complex, psychologists should be involved in every adoption from day one as standard, and can drop away as and when not needed, rather than wait to see if they are needed and then scramble around trying to work out what help is needed while things deteriorate out of control with the child. Obviously this is a bit pie in the sky at the moment, but hey, something to work towards.
PS in relation to the people being born with predispositions, this is to do with the experiences of generations before them in their bio family. So for example, if grandfather has experienced trauma and their brain works in a certain way because of that, this will impact on the brain of their child and grand child.
The research was done in relation to descendents of miners/factory workers (I think..) and descendants of holocaust survivors (I think), for example. It applies across the board. The common saying "chip off the old block" refers to the same thing no doubt.
A child of stable parents and a loving home and educated family who are themselves children of similar is going to have an easier time of it in many respects than someone whose parents and grand parents suffered trauma but if given the right supports in childhood, or even in adulthood if the opportunity is missed, though I think it is harder in adulthood, things can be much improved for them.
Anyway - it isn't to do with genetics of "birth parents" as some homogeneous group, it is to do with genetics related to experiences and opportunities.
* Anyway - it isn't to do with genetics of "birth parents" as some homogeneous group, it is to do with genetics related to experiences and opportunities.*
Well yes, quite. Of which there isn't any strong evidence.
So for example, if grandfather has experienced trauma and their brain works in a certain way because of that, this will impact on the brain of their child and grand child.
Isn't that just Lamarckian evolution repackaged? One of those pseudoscience ideas which keeps being recycled.
So we're back to nature v nurture really?
I've given up on too much wondering which of my DDs' traits are to do with genetics, prem, neglect, adopted, my parenting. It doesn't seem to help, I go with what is presenting in-front of me.
I know that's not always right because a different cause might need different handling for the same behaviour. Though with DD2 often there are subtleties that indicate whether something is caused by 'now' or 'past', if I spot them in time.
Not really, don - it was just my way of explaining the point! The ongoing research itself isn't pseudoscience, obviously, BUT the way it is applied or interpreted at times is probably incorrect and misleading hence making it look like pseudoscience. Does that make sense? We know more about the brain now than in Lamarck's times so the research going on now is going to be quite different.
sanders the nurture aspect is seen the more fundamental and important in the research - one part of the jigsaw puzzle to do with how to help people who need help, I think.
Anyway, my take away is be aware, get help early, know your limitations.
sanders also, the bits I have read about it are tied in with "nurture" in the sense that they are tied in with the large body of research to do with how to bring up children to be happy, independent, successful adults so very much to do with moving forward successfully rather than writing people off because of their genes or saying that problems are inevitable.
don also i agree with your first post that this is not to do with attaching anything meaningful to inheriting crappy genes or predicting anything by reference to in utero.
The research I have read about has been reported alongside for example the fact that a baby's brain is say 20 percent developed at birth and 80 percent developed at age 3 and so clearly the stimulation and experiences in the first three years are key, and there are key opportunities here for therapeutic intervention - so as you say, nurture is king.
But I still feel being aware of possible inherited personality traits, behaviour traits, is useful. Positive and negative.
I also agree that covering it better in training would be a positive change.
*The research I have read about has been reported alongside for example the fact that a baby's brain is say 20 percent developed at birth and 80 percent developed at age 3 and so clearly the stimulation and experiences in the first three years are key, and there are key opportunities here for therapeutic intervention - so as you say, nurture is king.
But I still feel being aware of possible inherited personality traits, behaviour traits, is useful. Positive and negative.*
Studies that look at early brain development (you know, the ones with the “healthy” and “”underdeveloped” brain scans) used data from Eastern European orphanages where babies were warehouses in cots with minimal human contact and no real stimulation or affection. It would really take something extraordinary for a uk child to be so severely neglected as to sustain that level of neurological damage - but that doesn’t make good headlines or bring round huge pockets of funding for endless research, therapy etc. Research also shows brain plasticity reaches toddler levels again in teenage years, when there’s a good opportunity to develop healthy attachments, neurological pathways etc.
Lots and lots of research points to neglected or abused children not being biologically or psychologically predisposed to a life of chaos. This is an area where half truths, misinterpreted research and a little knowledge can cause huge harm, and yes should be taught better in SW core training.
And everything that @donquixote said.
@jellycatspyjamas I can't work out if you were agreeing with me or disagreeing? If disagreeing you may have misunderstood what I wrote - the studies I was referring to indicated that you can turn around the affect of neglect, not the other way round, so we are saying the same thing? And you are making the additional point that there opportunities during the teenage years (and I would say beyond)?
Hi @sgnittes, sorry for not responding any sooner, but I have been busy with the fall out of dealing with my preteen child being registered as blind (due absolutely entirely and unequivocally to her in utero experiences). I seem to have precipitated a big debate here about the merits of nature vs nurture. It’s interesting to me as an adoptive parent more than a decade into my solo journey to explore the negative vs positive experiences of adoptive parents here vs on the AUK forum.
My perception on this forum, be it right or wrong, is that adoptive parents here are in their infancy, relatively speaking, in relation to the dating of their adoption order, and may not have experienced some of the hardships families on the other, more specific adoption forums have suffered further on in their family journeys.
A decade ago, I was placed with a beautiful baby with absolutely no health or other concerns whatsoever; three years ago, following a near breakdown of my family placement, due to extreme behaviours, it was discovered that my “perfect” baby had spent the first 10 days of her life in SCBU withdrawing from a cocktail of drugs.
Fast forward 10 years, and that drug-and-alcohol-addicted baby is busy preparing for her future at a super-selective Grammar School, where she will start as one of the highest placing pupils in the test to find 180 pupils out of approximately 1,500 highly tutored girls and boys who tried their luck. My daughter had no professional tutoring ahead of the examination.
It goes without saying that I would love to claim my daughter’s 11+ success entirely as my own (I helped her a bit with the maths and English preparation), but I’m happy to accept that her birth parents are extremely bright (they ran rings around the SS and courts process for two years) and that my daughter’s early educational success is a combination of nature vs nurture - but I’m not a biochemist or a geneticist, or a mum with an agenda. All I am is an adoptive mum who has always wanted the best possible future for my two adopted chidren. From where I’m standing, though, vis a vis my elder daughter’s degenerative sight loss, it would appear the genes are wining out.
@jellycatspyjamas, interestingly, my daughter had intensive physio and other therapies upon her placement with me @ a year old. Her physio, whom we saw twice a week, was extremely concerned that the only other children she had seen presenting as “bouncing” repetitively had been witnessed in a Romanian orphanage. Terrifying concerns aside, I happened to know my daughter’s foster carers (very small rural community) and knew they had not one but two massive trampolines for their birth and looked after children. My daughter apparently spent many a happy hour being ‘bounced’ on the tramplines by her foster siblings.
moomin I am very sorry to hear about the sight loss. I am dealing with something similar, though hearing loss and a different family member, and so I can empathise. In our case also inherited, and obviously genes will affect some things. It is appalling for you and your dc that you weren't given all the relevant facts when you adopted, it is appalling every time that happens.
I had asked the specific questions because I wanted to know what your personal experience was, ie you and people you talk to, on AUK or otherwise, but it doesn't matter, it was only if you wanted to answer the questions.
I know that Robert Plomin has been causing a stir recently, making outlandish (and contradictory, and challenged by others) statements that parenting matters not a hoot.
In terms of behaviour, nothing is predestined as far as my experiences go. I have seen lives turned around and that is the key thing. And I really want that message to get out there. And it is behaviour which is so fundamental to success.
Re "bouncing" I am not sure what you mean about the reference to Romanian babies do you mean that they would bounce for hours at a time? Trampolining is one of the therapies recommended as extremely effective for trauma which has affected the brain to disconnect- it unites body and mind - yoga and long walks similarly - I haven't put that scientifically but it is along those lines. A child I have helped with trauma would bounce endlessly as a younger child and they recovered and went on to do well - their behaviours to do with not being aware of risk, impulsive, concentration etc improved immeasurably after a year or so of those types of therapies.
@jellycatspyjamas I wasn't referring to the research you were referring to by the way, up thread. I was referring to old established research about how the normal brain wires up in the first few years, in relation to what can be done in relation to in utero experiences - though not all, obviously.
I don't think extreme views (it is pseudo rubbish vs it is all important) is helpful. As ever a middle ground, where there is awareness of the likelihood of inheritied traits positive and negative and also an awareness of the plasticity of the brain is the way to go, and to find out as much as possible and challenge the thinking that genes are dominant in every respect rather than saying it is all hogwash, imo.
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