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Children with additional needs

(11 Posts)
StylishMummy Thu 21-Nov-19 14:26:24

Hi all. First time posting on this board but hoping for some advice?

Me and DH have 2 biological DDs, who are both under 5 currently. We've always imagine a 'big' family but it's absolutely not possible for me to have another pregnancy. I've been interested in fostering for years and this is something I feel passionate about for our future when the DC are in secondary school (and can voice their opinions on this)

However DH and I have been discussing adoption & possibly of a child with additional needs such as Down's syndrome or FAS. We have extensive medical experience from my health and DD's experiences and feel well equipped to handle this, but I have no idea if we're being ridiculous?

I have such a strong family unit, an enormous support network and were comfortable financially. I get a full years paid adoption/maternity leave and would eventually work 3 days (can be from home).

Does anyone have experience of adoption with birth DC and what's the best age gap. Plus, are we mad to want to take on a child with additional needs?

OP’s posts: |
Ted27 Thu 21-Nov-19 15:24:13

no more ridiculous or mad than any other adopter !

Most adopted children will have some additional needs of one kind or another, but I imagine if you stated those conditions SWs will bite your hand off. Having said that I think children with Down syndrome requiring adoptionare likely to be quite rare ( because of the availabilty of termination ) and sadly FAS probably all too common.
FAS is a spectrum and the level of need may not always be apparent at adoption.
The biggest issue really is the potential impact on your BCs. I'm curious as to why you would delay fostering until your children are older and can have an opinion but would consider adoption when they are younger, when the impact of adoption on them is likely to be higher

ifchocolatewerecelery Thu 21-Nov-19 16:10:47

FASD is so prevalent among adopted children that training on it was mandatory as part of our approval process. As @Ted27 posted, most adopted children have additional needs and, unless you are adopting an older child, these will not be immediately apparent at the time of adoption. It is important not to underestimate the impact of attachment and trauma issues on an adopted child and their family. I belong to a couple of Facebook groups for adopted families and a high proportion of members are experiencing some form of secondary trauma and child to parent violence. This makes sense as those whose family life is going reasonably well are less likely to post on or even belong to such groups.

There are people out there like single father Ben Carpenter and Garry and Kyle who featured in an episode of DIY SOS: the big build who have adopted multiple children with multiple medical needs. In both these families one parent is a full time carer for the children and much of their life is spent doing medical appointments and, based on my experience as someone who has worked with disabled children, fighting the system to get their children's basic needs met. My anecdotal evidence of parents of birth children with additional needs is that it has put a massive strain on their own health and their relationship. Many parents have separated because of this and siblings are often resentful. One teenager I looked after had been in full time residential care since the age of 8, his parents were still together and he was a much loved young man. However his siblings both felt he was their mother's favourite and eventually requested he no longer come home for Christmas but either just before or just after instead.

There is no right answer to your question, you just need to think about what you can honestly handle as part of the daily grind, how much of your life you want to spend fighting on your child's behalf and how much of your current family life you are prepared to sacrifice in order to meet a child's needs.

Italiangreyhound Thu 21-Nov-19 17:19:43

StylishMummy I have a birth dd on the autistic spectrum (15) and an adopted son (9) who does not have any specific additional needs but is quite emotional and may be effected by early neglect or may be on the spectrum (but less so than dd).

Our kids have almost a 6 year gap and ds came to us at 3, nearly 4.

As the others have mentioned, I don't know of many children adopted with Down syndrome, but many kids will have one kind of additional need or the other.

I am quite sure that social workers would bite your hand off.

Italiangreyhound Thu 21-Nov-19 17:21:17

I would suggest reading and thinking a lot over the coming months/years and being open but protective. Whatever you think this is going to cost you (emotionally, physically etc) it will be more.

DD was not diagnosed until 13 and I honestly wonder if we had known what would be coming with her whether we would have adopted at all.

I expect we would. I had quite rosy specs!

I love them both to bits and I guess you cope with what you have to up to a point!

However, I do think it is important to remember that whatever you know professionally as a person who can see patient/child in a medical setting or at a school etc, remember parenting is so different and the whole 24/7ness of it all!

BUT you sound like a great possible adopter so this is NOT intended to put you off. Just take off any rosy specs (as I know we all have them) and may you have all the best of an adoption journey. thanks

fasparent Thu 21-Nov-19 19:16:39

Pehaps you may wish too reconsider long term Fostering, Support and circumstances can change , Looking after Special needs children is very expensive , hence the need of continual funding and training. We as FC's for example attend support and training sessions once a month, do 3 compulsory training sessions every year on top of related sessions too the child. On top of this attend training session related too our Adopted children. So is not easy which ever way one goes , but the difference with love and understanding seeing how happy they are far out way's all the problems one encounter's . Wish you all the best.

flapjackfairy Thu 21-Nov-19 19:46:19

I have 3 grown up children and a long term foster child with complex needs who has been with us over 12 years now. We also have a 5yr old adopted child with extremely complex needs . Both boys need 24 hour care and they have to come first all the time because they rely on us to meet all their care needs.
It can be hard on birth children if they are young and still in need if lots of hands on mothering themselves so I would consider a big age gap if I were you.
But no you are not mad ! I love our life and wouldn't do anything else though it is challenging at times and v hard work day in day out. But all adoption is hard work and challenging to be honest so don't let that put you off.

StylishMummy Thu 21-Nov-19 22:35:55

@Ted27 because the type of fostering I'm interested in is short term. Not respite but taking children from the removal from birth family and bridging the gap until long term/permanent carers are matched or adoptions happen. My DC would have to deal with children taking our love and attention then leaving after a few months which I think is hard when they're <10ish

Whereas we look at adoption as proving them with a permanent sibling and I think younger children acclimatise to that far easier

OP’s posts: |
chickenlegsbj Sat 23-Nov-19 09:40:43

We have a bs and as - our as has Down’s syndrome. There is one year between them and we adopted when bs was 2. We have no regrets at all and there is no doubt about how enhanced both of their lives are by having each other.

Allington Sat 23-Nov-19 15:46:25

I would suggest looking into getting experience with children with varying special needs.

FAS, in particular, has an incredibly wide variety of consequences and often is not reflected in physical appearance, with the result that it is difficult to get a diagnosis and appropriate support, and also the assumption from many people (including professionals) will be that their behaviour reflects your parenting rather than neurological damage. In my experience, anyway... and DD is very mildly affected (at the age of 12 certain traits are being tentatively connected to foetal alcohol exposure - we will never know for sure).

I think the greater the uncertainty of diagnosis/prognosis, the bigger the age gap between BC and AC the better. Best case scenario is AC has minimal issues, but benefits from the attention and interaction of being the baby of the family, when older BCs are more independent and not needing the same sort of parental attention.

Worst case scenario and AC has substantial needs that impact on everyday family life, and older BCs are more independent, able to protect themselves, and not needing the same sort of parental attention.

Mynamenotaccepted Fri 06-Dec-19 21:19:33

A bit late here (as usual) We have 3 homegrown children and have adopted 8 all with special needs, 4 with Down Syndrome. Sadly 3 have died 2 did come with short life expectancy and one little tinker did the dirty on us!
We are very lucky the 5 have no challenging behaviour, but all have health needs 2 qualify for Continuing health care and the others have varying health needs, heart, chest epilepsy and lovely Ben is profoundly deaf.
They all give us so much pleasure. However we are getting on age wise and the future terrifies us who will love them like we do?
Please do not let this put you off our lives have been enriched by our chaps.
Good luck I know this is a rather slushy post but it comes from the heart

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