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Here goes nothing! Please advise.(19 Posts)
My husband and I have decided that enough is enough with trying to have a biological child. We have had two miscarriages, and it has been utterly heartbreaking. We have decided that we just don't want to put ourselves through it again, for our own wellbeing, and we are adamant about our decision.
My husband is looking into a vasectomy, but GP has already advised that because he is young (29), he is unlikely to get one on the NHS. If that is the case, then until he can have one, we will use a combination of birth control and total abstinence during my fertile window to ensure that there are no "accidents".
We want to start the adoption process. Adoption was always on the cards for us anyway, because my younger sister was adopted from China, and all of our family friends growing up were adopters. It is very 'natural' to me in that way.
1. Which Local Authority should I contact? I understand it is best not to use your own LA... but how far afield should we go? I don't care where our baby is from, and travel is no issue, but how to choose which LA?
2. We will suggest that we are suitable for under 2s. I realise this makes a match more difficult, but we are prepared to wait. Are there any LAs which have more children? Larger counties, for example?
3. We don't care about our child's race. Obviously, I grew up in a mixed race family and look nothing like my sister. But as a white couple, will we be further restricted to white infants only?
4. My family history is troubled (despite my mother being approved by social services to adopt my little sister!!!). I have never known my biological father, so he isn't an issue, but I am now zero-contact with my mother due to her alcohol issues during my childhood, and generally being a liar and pretty toxic. I expect SW would frown upon that. I have been no-contact with my mother for a couple of years and she will not have any contact with any child of ours - my husband also feels strongly about this. Would SW want to speak with my mother anyway? I really, really don't want to have any contact with her. And I dread to think what she would say to a SW. If you think they will speak with her, how long would I have to have been no contact with her for, before they wouldn't? (I am prepared to wait longer to avoid this possibility).
5. Our last miscarriage was in July. I have had counselling, done my grieving, and am excited about our decision to adopt. Will an LA want more time to have passed before they will even start the process?
6. We have just moved into a gorgeous new house, and I am planning on revamping the whole thing. It's lovely as it is, but I love a project! Will SW frown upon us if we are having work done, i.e. does it need to be "finished" (ha! I'll never be finished!) before they will consider us? No walls being knocked down or extensions, but we're having new kitchen etc...
Any guidance would be so appreciated. I feel like my family history could be a problem...
Would be very grateful for any help and pointing in the right direction.!
My LO is being 'placed' today, so I am at the other end of the journey.
What makes you think you should not use your own LA? That is probably the best place to start?
They will not want the child to move into a building site - but the process takes at least a year, so time to finish etc.
They tend to be grouped into regional hubs now.
SW are not looking for 'perfect' upbringings - who has those? And of course we can't change that.
Some evidence of overcoming adversity is actually good.
They will not need a 'reference' from your mother.
One thing jumped out at me - you said your last miscarriage was in July and that you’ve had counselling and done your grieving. Was that July 2017? Or July, a fortnight ago?
If the latter, I think you should give yourself some more time to process.
I meant July 2018, as in last year. I still sometimes forget it’s 2019! Sorry.
They may well think last month is too soon. Often they like a break of at least 6 months (and maybe some more counselling).
Re LA. it depends where you live. Your LA is a good place to start but if you live in a very small LA they may have difficulty placing with you due to location of birth family. However may LAs are part of larger consortiums. Using your LA or one very close makes doing the home-study assessment much easier.
Re race of child. Again it depends where you live and how 'multicultural' your life and friends and family are. So normally you would expect a white child, but if you live in a more mixed area, or if you have engaged more with Chinese heritage due to your sister, you might find they are more open.
Your parents shouldn't be a blocking issue, but they will expect you to have a good support network generally.
The house will need to be finished before placement, so it rather depends on how long the 'project' is meant to be, and home much is essential v nice to have.
Under 2 may be your sticking point, but you are young. I'd approach them with a slightly more open view maybe? There aren't many 'healthy white babies' but you sound well positioned so if that's what you want then go for it. (My youngest was 2.5 when placed and was still a 'big baby'.)
What are first steps?
Contact your and neighbouring LAs and ask about information sessions. See what they say, and who you like.
If you don't have much experience of children, think about how you can get some.
Do background reading on attachment / trauma.
Think about whether you would be willing to take on a child with any form of SN, or with a traumatic background (eg child of rape). You don't need to decide up front, but an idea of where your boundaries / sticking points might be would help.
(e.g. for us we were less fixed on age, but wanted our children to be able to attend mainstream school and live independent lives as adults)
I’ve said this many times on these threads....and at the risk of being a bore.....LAs vary considerably in terms of the children they have. I live in a large city in the North of England and they have more babies here than they can find homes for. We said we wanted a single child under 3 and our DS was 8 months when he came home. We know many adopters in the area and all have been matched with babies or toddlers (unless they specifically wanted older children).
I'm white, my son is black, so I'll throw my tuppence worth in on this.
Trans racial adoption is still a bit controversial in this country. Most SWs will still be looking for families with an ethnic match.
They will look at how you can promote the child's heritage, they would be very unlikely to place a child from an ethnic minority with a white family who live in a very white white area.
I live in a very diverse city, we don't stand out at all. By contrast my mixed goddaugher is mixed race and was brought up in Cornwall, with no other children from ethnic minorities around. But they had a huge Indian family in London to relate to.
WIth regard to agencies, it makes sense that a large urban LA will potentially have more children than a small rural one. However, the number of children, ages, sex, sibling groups etc will vary over time - this year my LA could be looking to place 6 babies, next year it could be none. Nearly all LAs are working in consoria now anyway.
Its best really to attend a few information evenings to see who you are comfortable with.
1) Most people do go with their LA. We didn't as we met with them and didn't 'gel' with them. We went with a neighbouring LA as a friend had recently adopted with them, and we also liked them more. This did go in our favour when being matched as the other people being considered for our LO were local, and because of safeguarding risks they didn't want LO to be kept local.
2) We started the process saying we wanted a 2-4 year old. We went to approval panel wanting 0-2 years. We got matched with a 6 month old. The age of children will vary, and you may change your minds, age wise, during the process too.
3) If you are wanting a mixed race child you will have to explain to them how you will educate the child on their heritage etc.
4) Your past will be looking into, in depth. SW's will (99% certain) want to speak to your Mother, even though there are issues, or have some contact with her. They will probably want to hear her side, but will also hear you out on any claims she might make. They will also listen to your concerns about not wanting her contacted, and because of this may not contact her. It will all be down to your SW.
I have been non-contact with my sister for 8 years, they said they wanted to contact her, I said that would be fine but any correspondence would have to be face to face or on the phone, nothing in writing, so her **** husband couldn't do it for her.... They wrote to her and she didn't respond. That was good enough for them.
There isn't a timescale of when they wouldn't speak to someone, everyone will probably need to be spoken to.
5) If it was July 2019 you will have to wait 6 months from then to start the process. Some LA do ask for more, but I think that is the general rule.
6) The process will take 9-12+ months to complete so you have loads of time to get a new kitchen done! We started a loft conversion during the process, but our SW could see it would be completed before we went to approval panel (it was done about 8 weeks before panel!). Some won't be as understanding though (ours was great and used common-sense!), and will want major works complete before you even start the process, or might put things 'on hold' while they're done.
Hope that all helps! This is from my personal experience, so others may be different.
Also, on the age thing, we were told before panel there were no babies 'available', but we were then matched with our 6 month old. Then we were told there were 'lots of babies coming through the system', so it can change, and quickly!
SW's will (99% certain) want to speak to your Mother, even though there are issues, or have some contact with her.
SW didn’t ask to speak to my parents at all, and there was no suggestion from them they wanted contact with them. The process really does vary hugely from area to area. They will want to talk to your about your relationship with your mum, how you feel it’s affected you and what might happen with any child placed but in my circle of friends who have adopted there was no requirement that SW spoke to any specific person other than they wanted to meet with 3 different friends or relatives who had already provided a reference.
If contact with any person in your past is likely to cause you difficulty, I’d expect SW to respect that and find someone else.
As you say, LA’s are different, this is my experience.
They said they’d want to speak to my parents, my OH’s parents, his siblings and my sister. Apart from my sister there weren’t any issues, but it was a given that they did that across the board.
Plus they wanted to meet our references - 2 of my friends and 1 of OH’s - all done face to face, and all in addition to our family!
1) Some LAs have more because they might work in a consortium and therefore "share" children. I know that this is how London works, but think there may be some of these outside of London.
2) I would advise you say at the start you're open to being flexible and then you can once approved be more selective with finding the right match. I don't mean to say to lie to social workers, but when we said under 2 to our social worker, she said she was going to write 0-4 on the form as we'd be more likely to be taken forward.
3) Me and my partner have asian/white heritage but we didn't care about ethnicity. If anything I wanted our family to be more multi-cultural than it turned out to be (but I wouldn't change anything), but our LA did not do cross-ethnicity adoption.
4) I think this will differ but I suppose they might be interested in hearing about your mother given that they approved her for adoption and she is the way you say she is?
5) Can't speak from experience but if you mean this July just gone, then that's a bit too soon and think they will ask for longer. I don't see why you couldn't go to any information evenings though to get the feelers out.
6) if you're not doing building work and it looks fine as it is, I would just suggest you avoid doing work whilst social workers come round... If it's just decorating I would plan to do it in-between the meetings. Though I'm pretty inexperienced with decorating and would never do it if it looked okay! you won't have the process stopped because of this but I think the meetings can cause a lot of stress and think you don't need extra in your life.
As a trans-racial adopter (from the UK, but adoption while living abroad long-term) I have to say I am not in favor of trans-racial adoption in general... you have no privacy as it perfectly obvious this is not your biological child. Plus, it takes a lot more work to promote your child's birth heritage, which is part of valuing them and where they come from. Then, if you are white, your understanding of experiencing racism can only come from the outside.
I adore my girls, and all these drawbacks can be overcome. I wouldn't change a thing, and they are thriving. For us, as individuals, love and commitment were all that counted, but we live in a world where the colour of your skin affects the way people see you. It is one more complexity to add to all the other complexities of adoption.
That is not to 'do down' families - like us - made by trans-racial adoption. Only to say that it should definitely be a factor in matching.
I have really come to realise that every local authority is different. We went with a neighbouring LA because we already knew a child who was looking for a family. We contacted our own LA and asked them for advice and they explained that we would be better going with them because they are a bigger LA and as a result the process would be quicker.
During our first home visit I asked about our home being a work in progress. Our SW told us that as long as the house is safe and habitable it isn't a problem. It's a long term project and she said she sees it as a sign that we are creating a family home and are stable with where we leave.
We also started the process after IVF and miscarriages and more important than any timeline has been evidencing how we dealt with and coped infertility. Accessing therapy and working through emotions and our own trauma gives a very good indication of how we as a couple manage stress, even if it's very different stress to adopted parenthood.
@howmanyusernames I was replying to you saying they’d be 99% certain to want to speak to her mum. In your experience they did, but many won’t and I didn’t want the OP thinking they’d almost certainly talk to her mum for that to worry her or make her think adoption isn’t for her.
If someone is able to explain family conflict and the reason for deciding not to have contact, in my experience social workers won’t insist on speaking to the family member. I wasn’t saying your experience wasn’t true, just that it doesn’t equate across the board so the OP may well find it’s not an issue for her.
I'd really read up on interracial adoption if you are considering it. We decided against it for a variety of reasons but one that really stuck out for me is that many adoptees struggle with their identity because they feel they are neither one thing nor the other. For us having a child from the same cultural background as us is not something we consciously considered at the time but I look back on it and am glad we made the decisions we did. My other half is Welsh through and through. I joke if you cut him in half, a dragon will fly out. We went through a Welsh agency and our LO is born and bred Welsh and as someone who struggles with their own identity (I am not fully English but no Welsh person would say I'm Welsh- it's a complicated family history situation) I think that's important because regardless of what we said to anyone my hubby would struggle to promote any identity other than Welsh because he just is. I hope that makes sense.
Jelly, I know you were replying to me, hence me saying all LA’s are different and this is my experience?
In my experience the LA would have wanted to speak to all relatives. Not just using my personal situation but others I know. Sometimes it’s down to the SW and how they are.
The work we had done on the house would have stopped the process with a lot of SW’s, but ours was experienced and knew it would be complete before panel, and could also see the progress made when we met. BUT other SW’s would have put a hold on things and done things by the book.
I’m just reiterating your point, that all LA’s are different.
We were in the middle of renovating house while being assessed/matched. We’re still in the middle of renovating now, 6 years on. (I wish I was joking!)
It was an absolute dog’s dinner when the DC were placed, missing wall paper and leaking roof, but their rooms were ready, living spaces were liveable, no-one seemed to care. It was never discussed, beyond agreeing that some of the building work was necessary (to create an extra bedroom).
My friends started with the LA but their social worker had access to a much wider database and ended up adopting from a non LA agency in Scotland. If you are willing to adopt siblings it's possible to adopt a baby and a toddler sometimes. They will make you wait a time after your miscarriage but should be able to book you in for the initial group sessions. Best of luck.
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