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Should we even bother with trying for adoption?

(19 Posts)
JenniPenni Thu 17-Jul-08 00:57:36

Hi there, this is my first post here, am enjoying looking around here! I have posted this on another thread already, but am not sure if that was the right thing to do as way of introduction

We have been trying for a child for a couple of years (I am 34), and we have just found out we cannot have kids for sure - nothing wrong with me at all (not even high blood pressure), he had a bad case of mumps when he was young which has made him infertile

So it's the donor route or adoption route...

We have been to an introduction evening at Richmond Borough and came away so confused. So many good and so many bad experiences.

I am obese (BMI over 40), and we have identified that this will be our key problem. I do have a healthy appetite but eat what hubby does, and he is slim. Not into junk food at all. I have started a very strict diet, as I do not enjoy/feel happy about being so overweight (who does?).

I piled on weight after using a contraceptive injection for years, not realising that was the cause for the steady weight increase (plus I have a genetic disposition for being heavy too which hasn't helped... we all really battle and have to do loads of exercise to keep the weight down)... and now the harm is done. I had loads of tests last year by an endocrinologist and this is what he found. I used to weigh 74kg prior to starting the injection (am 5ft 3inches).

I am also a childminder - I look after 4 kids every day - under the age of 3! They keep me on my feet all day. I am active in that I cycle and walk a lot, feed them very well with excellent nutrition (believe you me, the parents would not leave them with me were it otherwise, they are not fools). Ofsted neither!

Also, one agency said it was great I was a childminder - stands me in good stead... another agency said it was bad... as I wouldn't prioritise the adopted child... Huh??? Such conflicting opinions.

We will both be fabulous parents, of this I am sure... but we are just too scared to go any further with adoption as it seems the SW are full of you-know-what half the time, with such conflicting statements!

All we want to do is provide a child who has come into the world at a disadvantage, with loving and caring parents, nurture them and ensure they have a brighter future... is this too much to ask?

BarbadosMama Thu 17-Jul-08 01:57:39

I'm afraid I can't answer your question. It depends so much on your SW and the all important adoption panel. If you get the SW on your side, they can sometimes bring the most difficult panel round but some panels have bees in their bonnets about the strangest things. Don't get me started on what I think about panels grin

I would ask for an informal chat with a SW if you can, tell them how it is (you are clearly a very persuasive person from your post) and ask them what they think. If they tell you it's OK then they may turn out to be your greatest advocate

NineYearsOfNappies Thu 17-Jul-08 07:47:53

The other person to check with is your GP. Because sooner or later you'll need a medical report done and how the GP writes it can make a difference. If you have a good relationship with your GP, it might be worth going to them now and getting your weight recorded together with a weight loss plan - and then when you do get that medical hopefully you will have some officially recorded weight lost which should show the adoption medical officer you are serious about losing weight for the good of the child.

How would you feel about stopping childminding? Is that the plan or not? Not suggesting it should or shouldn't be, just wondering. If you're planning to take leave from it then I suspect the 1st agency has it right and your experience will be invaluable. If you're planning on keeping it on without a break then I suspect the 2nd agency's concerns are likely to become more of a concern with the 1st agency too if that makes sense. If you're trying to adopt a baby then a lot of agencies want you to be able to commit to having a parent at home for the first year or so. Not always, working parents do get approved, but it does tick some "ideal couple" boxes.

The other issue is infertility - many places will not take you on as adopters until at least a year after you have stopped infertility treatments/investigations. They want the decision to adopt to be a positive one and not second best, they want parents to have somehow gotten over infertility before they seek to cure childlessness by adopting. And for some reason they think having them separated by time is the way to do that.

Sounds like you'll make great parents, whatever route you go down though. When I was waiting I always felt as though I was already a parent; I simply didn't have a child yet.

Kayran Thu 17-Jul-08 08:09:11

We had a different scenario; one ivf baby after 7 years of treatments and a nearly fatal last pregnancy. We looked at adoption and because of the IVF and the fact hubby is in the army everyone was very negative. We decided after much, much thought to give fostering a go. We now have two little ones (Joshua 1 year and Kacie 2 years) and the probability of a baby in October grin

So I understand the pain of infertility and trying to work out whether this is something you feel you need to explore more and I understand that sometimes it feels as if you are treading water with the social worker's negativity if you go the other route.

As to the medical side of things; you are overweight, you have identified that, howeve,r you are taking active steps to address this. Are you healthy in other epects? No high blood pressure, diabetes etc. The one thing I wold say is keep it about yourself - no family predisposition etc. People will not understand and will think you are making excuses. Also the social workers will pick up on it and say you will accept unhealthy weight for your adopted children as they are 'family'. (Believe me you do not want to give them any ammunition.)

As to childminding here I would concur with the social worker (although not for the reasons she said). You will need the time and energy to devote to your new family. It might take 6 months, it might take years. No child coming through the system arrives un-scared. You would have to think of it as your maternity leave. BUT do milk that experience for all it is worth. You do not think you can handle small children and their demands, you KNOW.

Hope it is ahelpful post and if you want any specific help let me know and I will help if I can.

bran Thu 17-Jul-08 08:59:37

We are trying to adopt for the second time and if there was anything at all that I could do rather than go through the social services system then I would. I know that there is a waiting list for sperm as there is a donor shortage but it would probably be the same wait overall as adoption.

Obesity seems to be the political issue du jour unfortunately. My BMI was 38 when we adopted ds and it wasn't really mentioned except that our social workers report was specific about how my lifestyle was active and healthy and that I had a good knowledge of nutrition. This time around I was the same weight and they wouldn't bring us to panel to be approved. Our panel should have been in March and it looks unlikely now that we will be approved before Oct/Nov, possibly never as I now have blood pressure issues despite exercising like mad and losing 10% of my body weight (I suspect it's from stress).

I worry that even if we do get approved we will be the bottom of the list when they are considering families because of weight considerations. We had a long wait for ds because although we are a mixed-race couple dh is Christian Asian and they were always looking for either Hindu or Muslim (which was the political issue at the time). Now that there is a govt. directive about placing children more quickly rather than leaving them in care indefinitely while waiting for the perfect match a lot of emphasis seems to have shifted to other issues, mostly obesity. My gut feeling is that if you are a white couple wanting a young child or baby then because there are many more couples looking than there are children available you may find that other couples without a weight issue may keep 'winning' the children you are going for.

Sorry for such a downbeat viewpoint. On the positive side DS is the apple of my eye and is completely worth all the stress and anguish we went through.

Kewcumber Thu 17-Jul-08 09:14:05

I'm also in Richmond borough and a simialr size to you (at a guess) I did have issues getting approved with my weight but they weren;t insurmountable even with an unsupportive GP. However as Bran says you may find it harder on the matching end - presuming you want a fairly young child. They're like hens teeth in this area and I suspec that Richmond have any number of young and thin couples wanting them. It would probably be differnt if yo uwould consider a school age child but this is not for the fainthearted. Another option which might owrk for you is concurrent planning which is where you foster to adopt often very young babies with a view to seeing if they can be placed back with birth parents. I understand the rate of return is about 15% the rest of the time the foster carer becomes the adopter.

You may well have a problem doing this whilst childminding as you would need to have meeting with SS, possibly family contact for the child and doctor/hospital appointments and I'm not sure how you would deal with that whilst childminding. I know Coram do concurrent planning and it may be worth you contacting them as well as Richmond council who have a new adoption manager so I have no idea what her attitudes are.

JenniPenni Thu 17-Jul-08 16:30:41

'When I was waiting I always felt as though I was already a parent; I simply didn't have a child yet.'

Oh I LOVE that

Thanks so much for the responses. I feel so much better having read them. I will answer in one fould sweep.. get comfy ;)

I have no health probs at all, except for the weight. No high bp or diabetes etc. Have never smoked, drink about 1 unit a month (a daredevil I know! haha). Am loads healthier than many of my skinny pals ;)

I have started a weight loss program and doc has recorded weight already... just gotta keep at it!

I absolutely love childminding, but would give it up for the necessary period for sure - the child's needs come first. They have had a heck of a lot to deal with already in their young lives and deserve nothing less than the best from us as new parents.

I have dual citizenship (UK and South Africa), and we are going to look into adoption there in January... put feelers out. Is an easier process than here it seems, friends there (who have a child already) are just about to be placed with a child... they decided to adopt and give a child a home rather than have another biological child.

The problems there are different to the UK, many HIV AIDS babies and children, and many not, with 98% black origin. They are less fazed with colour than the UK SWs are. Then it means us having to move there... so lots to consider!

The concurrent planning sounds like a good idea.. will look into it, thanks

I guess we would have to wait for a year then till we can even approach an agency anyway... as the fertility stuff is very recent.

We do not mind what age the child is, what colour they are, whether they have siblings or not (our home space could take two children). There is a child/ren out there for us and I am just dying to meet her/him/them!

ps: Kayran... are you unsure yet if you are pregnant? I hope you are!

PheasantPlucker Sat 19-Jul-08 19:51:05

Hi, just wanted to say good luck with it all, and also that I was 'encouraged' (ie forced!) to take leave from my work (part time job) when we were approved to adopt. It was felt by the SWs it was vital to ensure dd2 settled in.

Kewcumber, I thought that the new head of adoption at Richmond was a SW who has been there a while, and who got promoted when the old head left? But I could be wrong....!

Kewcumber Sat 19-Jul-08 20:08:39

yes she is though tehre was a gap for a while. I haven't come across her though and my SW didn't seem to know what her attitudes were which confused me a bit!

Janni Sat 19-Jul-08 20:27:59

Please go for it. If you get a rubbish social worker, ask to be reassigned - I know people who've done that and it's fine. If you can't get on with your local social services, go to a private adoption agency. don't give up - grit your teeth and go through the necessary evil which is the approval process.

Our adopted daughter has been with us a year now and it's great! You sound like a lovely couple and your childminding experience is perfect, don't let SS tell you otherwise.

Good luck.

PheasantPlucker Sun 20-Jul-08 15:51:57

Sorry, I should have added do go for it, the first seesion can be confusing, and we were not sure we would be accepted onto the training bit, or whatever it is called. I am so glad we did persevere though.

Likewise, SWs are different - we had a FABULOUS one initially, who then went on maternity leave. The second one was OK, but we didn't have the same rapport at all, and I kind of got the impression she was just hanging on to make sure she qualified for her Local Govt pension..... But we developed an 'eyes on the prize' mentality, and just got our heads down and concentrated on ensuring they thought we would be good adoptive parents and would support the matching process etc. Good luck!

Kewcumber, yes I think she is the SW who was previously in charge of letterbox contact. Not sure she was 'in the community' supporting/approving families for a while. I suspect she chose an admin role for a little while.

blithedance Mon 21-Jul-08 14:07:57

Would just say, if you think you can manage it, to adopt a sibling group of say 2 children, may fast-track you to the front of the queue in local authorities.

Our view was that we wanted a family of more than one child in the long term, and we have two fantastic little brothers who were placed with us quite young. I don't think it was significantly more work than one child and it's great not to have to go through approval a second time.

Cannot advise on weight except to say if you want to follow some sort of programme like Weight Watchers it's much easier to concentrate without children!!!

From your postings you sound like exactly the kind of person who would make a great adoptive parent. Good luck!

Kewcumber Mon 21-Jul-08 14:36:13

PheasantPLucker - shoudl I know you... are you a name changer?

PheasantPlucker Mon 21-Jul-08 18:43:25

No, not a name changer! I don't think you know me, unless you attend any of the SW meet ups?

Kewcumber Mon 21-Jul-08 19:02:20

SW as in social worker or SW as in South West?! Not that I go to either! Just wondered as you seem to know a lot about adoption in Richmond and so do I...

PheasantPlucker Mon 21-Jul-08 20:12:50

No, SW London!! Sorry, I was unclear there. Richmond was our 'Agency'. (But not where we live)
God, I hope I didn't come across as a 'stalker'!

Kewcumber Mon 21-Jul-08 22:02:59

not stalkerish grin just interested if I knew you

JenniPenni Thu 07-Aug-08 12:12:16

Hi all, thanks for fab feedback Just to update you on where we are at.

We will be looking into adoption in SA in the new year. Far more user friendly towards potential parents tbh.

My father passed away at the end of last month, and I don't need the added stress of people frowning down at me, concerned more with my dress size than if I would make a good parent or not.

Everyone assumes that fat folk just eat all day and know nothing of nutrition (not taking into consideration other factors like steroid use after an injury, genetics etc.)... my outstanding grading from OFSTED last month is a sure sign they are more than happy with the excellent nutrition I give the kids in my care, and that even a fatty can look after kids well!

KristinaM Thu 07-Aug-08 14:18:26

good luck with the move and your adoption plans

i can assure you that you will need your sense of humour far more than a size 10 figure grin

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