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Close friends newly approved for adoption

20 replies

deviladvocate · 29/12/2010 22:58

Our close friends have just been approved for adoption following 6 years of trying for a baby without success. We started trying for a family about the same time and have been fortunate enough to have had three children. They're hoping to adopt two siblings, which will clearly be a huge life change and a massive learning curve.

I'm so happy for them and want to be supportive and offer any help I can but especially don't want to overstep the mark and risk offending them.

Any advice on what the likely sensitivities will be?

OP posts:
LittlePushka · 29/12/2010 23:12

Hello, I am in a very similar position to you with two of my dear friends and I too am thrilled for them. For me, I am sure that they will call or ask lots of their friends about how to deal with situations. However, the biggest thing I want to help them with is just as you say - the "hit the ground running" effect, not having had time to develop/try out parenting skills over time as with birth children. I have talked with them on the point a few times now and I know that they are making contacts within local adoptive parent/child networks locally. I think that sort of support will be invaluable for the big stuff - the little stuff (teething/feeding/blah) is small fry compared tomthe learning curve thing!!

AS to the sensitivities (and I am assuming that you mean about how "" the adoption is and how much information is available to the children)I think that once they are matched with their children your friend will let you know the score.

But all that said - isn't if bloomin' marvellous!!!Xmas Grin

deviladvocate · 29/12/2010 23:50

Thanks LittlePushka - it's so fantastic when you know that two people who should be parents are going to be isn't it! Sorry i wasn't clear, actually by the sensitivities i meant not wanting to be pushy or patronising in offering advice, i'm really excited for them and don't want to over-do it.

I've also been trying to think about practical stuff and had a good idea this evening, thought i might start buying some copies of books and toys we've loved so they'll have a selection to start with.

OP posts:
Lilka · 30/12/2010 00:02

Well, it certainly is a big leap none to two children. You need to understand however that adopted children are different to birth children and behave differently, because of what they have been through. Most of your advice aside from practical house advice is appropriate for birth children, but may not be appropriate for adoptive children. For instance Supernanny techniques generally are not effective for most adoptive children.

Believe me adoptive children can make feeding HUGE fry! Hoarding food or stealing it, gorging on it or refusing all food etc. Going to two adoptive children is like having sextuplet birth children!

A thread was started recently here "how do I help my friend with her two new children" I highly suggest reading it!

They may well want to buy a lot of the books and toys themselves - I know I did because it made me being a mummy real plus i wanted the sense of providing for my child, and I was 'nesting' Smile

LittlePushka · 30/12/2010 00:07

Oh sorry, my misunderstanding! I am sure that if you are good friends you will gauge the situation just right Smile. And I agree, it is SO satisfying to know they are officially approved. Of course we knew that already - Xmas Grin

I have been saving all sorts since I heard the news. I hope they like cars and trains...!

Will wtch your thread to see if anyone has any advice I can pinch too.

hester · 30/12/2010 00:15

I agree with Lilka. Be aware that they will be dealing with everything that is obvious to you if you were suddenly given two children to parent, and then some stuff that will not be obvious to you because parenting adopted children is different in many ways.

If they talk to you problems they are having with their dc, do not rush to reassure them that this is normal, all children do this etc. It may not be normal, it may be something speciic to their situation.

On the other hand, make efforts to affirm them as parents, part of the community of parents. They will probably love finally being 'part of the club', so make sure they get a warm welcome to it.

As an adoptive mother, I really appreciate you asking the question. You sound like a really nice friend Smile

greenlotus · 30/12/2010 00:17

I would say, stick around and see when they get matched - the waiting is awful (could be many months) and they could end up with toddlers or 5 year olds. Just say in so many words you are there to support them, to ask you anything they want, and when the children are placed, you can introduce them to the local parent and child scene as time goes on.

They will need a lot of practical help, you get no preparation at all for this. When they know what age of children then you can help them work through what they need to get and a typical routine. When we were matched a friend actually came to stay for the weekend with her same-aged kids so I could practise everything from bathtime to supermarket shopping - I didn't even know where the parent and child spaces were.

I would say a few thoughtful books are not a bad idea, also don't forget CD's - someone bought us a nursery rhyme CD which was great as we had forgotten them all and allowed for lots of singalong times. I would never have thought of it.

LittlePushka · 30/12/2010 00:27

(Did not mean to belittle what I perhaps insensitively called the "small fry" - just meant that I hugely appreciate that going from 0-2 overnight is an immense challenge because there is no time to practice)

walesblackbird · 30/12/2010 13:37

As others have said adopting two children at once is a huge undertaking. I am extrememly thankful that my three all arrived separately - that was challenging enough for me.

Parenting adopted children is very different to parenting birth children. They will have suffered a huge amount of trauma - both pre and post birth. It's possible that birth parents will have have been drug/alcohol abusers and the children may live with the consequences of those actions. A stressful pregnancy in itself can cause a baby's brain to develop in a different way to that of a birth child.

There's so much information out there now. Hopefully they will have read some books during their homestudy but I can recommend : Margot Sunderland, What Every Parent Should Know; Holly van Gulden, Real Parents Real Children and Caroline Archer, Tiddlers and Toddlers - just for starters!

If they're not already I would strong advise that they take a look at the Adoption UK message boards. There is a wealth of information there that can be invaluable when waiting, doing intros and having your new child/ren home.

Good luck to them - they're lucky to have a friend like you!!

And one other thing .... from experience the waiting is truly horrible so don't ask at regular intervals whether they've heard anything!

jazzchickens · 30/12/2010 18:06

You sound like a lovely, supportive friend. I would just let your friends know that you are there, ready & available whenever they need you.

When children are placed with them, don't be offended if they do not ask you round to visit straight away. Adoption agencies advise against too many visitors in the early days of placement - and that includes close family members. The children need time to get to understand who their main carers are going to be. Seeing too many new faces only confuses them - especially if they are older children who have already had more than one carer.

deviladvocate · 31/12/2010 00:11

Thank you so much for your suggestions, I really appreciate you taking the time to reply. They've had their first placement interview so it's waiting time now - I would have asked if they've heard anything so thanks so much for that tip.

Btw we're more attachment parenting inclined - no supernanny/gina techniques for us!

You've also made me realise I hadn't actually thought about the circumstances that would lead to a child being offered for adoption; naively I think I'd assumed an unwanted teenage pregnancy, but I guess having siblings this wouldn't be likely and might mean they'd be more likely to have behavioural/emotional issues.

Practically I wondered about proposing a trip to kiddicare once they know the ages of the children to pick up supplies - I thought perhaps it might help to steer them through the nice to haves and useless stuff to the key purchases?

OP posts:
walesblackbird · 31/12/2010 11:21

Check first what they will be bringing with them from foster care. My three have all come with varying amounts of stuff. My eldest came in the clothes he was wearing and a black bag of various odds and sods and that was pretty much it. My other two came with much more.

I think the best thing she can do - with your help - is to research beforehand what she needs, where she can get them from and how long delivery is going to be, particularly for the major items such as buggies, beds, cots etc.

And with buggies try before buying. Go to Mothercare or similar to get a feel for them - before then searching on-line for the best price!

When my youngest arrived I bought a 2nd hand double buggy and it was a nightmare. I'm short, it was long and I couldn't manoevre it at all. Ended up buying a Phil & Teds which was so much better.

It's an exciting time but also a very tiring, stressful time with so many different relationships to manage.

Just be there for her when she needs a break - cos she will. Offer to do the shopping for her, show her around the maze of nappies available, run the duster around - it's the practical help that she's going to appreciate more than anything else.

greenlotus · 31/12/2010 16:53

Sibling groups are more likely to be placed due to being removed from birth family, they are commonly quite close in age and may include quite young children. They tend to come with lots of toys but few practical things (foster carers tend to have & use their own buggies, cots etc).

After the first crazy few weeks it is good to start spending time with other families and doing "normal" things like meeting up at the park, it kind of affirms you as a family.

Also anything you have to lend as things like cots, bouncing chairs, highchairs may get less use than they would with a birth family (imagine adopting a 12mth old) but they're still needed and due to the suddenness of a placement you don't always have time to collect secondhand things, and you are not yet in the "circle" of people passing things around. On the adoption boards there are lists circulating of the things you need to buy for a "ready made" family and it's really daunting, everything from Calpol to plastic plates to nightlights, unless they are loaded a trip to Asda might be better Grin. I remember wanting to go out somewhere and realising the DC's didn't own any wellies and I had no idea what size they were!

NanaNina · 31/12/2010 18:43

I think you have been given good advice but one thing I would add as Ihave 30 years exp of fostering & adoption but am now retired.

As everyone is saying it is an enormous thing to go from 0 to 2 children and like birth parents your friends will have no idea what it will really be like. As has been pointed out, these children will by definition be emotionally harmed toa greater or lesser extent and your friends need to be aware of the importance of understnading about attachment theory and how they can best help these children to learn to trust adults again.

The other thing is that quite often new adoptive parents feel overwhelmed, think they've made a mistake, are scared they can't bond with the child etc., and as soc workers we only get to hear about it when all is well as they are too afraid to tell us, even though we know it happens! It may not happen to your friends, but if it does, be there to listen and gently re-assure that it is almost always a question of adjustment and will settle as time goes by. They need to be kind to themselves as well as the children.

Good luck to you all

LittlePushka · 31/12/2010 22:33

May I ask you good folk some advice - when in due course I meet the children, who will be pre-school children, I wondered whether it would be a good thing to meet the family with little ones somewhere neutral so to speak, like on the beach or at soft play or park or whatever. Am I right to be conscious not to invade the space/territory (call it what you will but you know what I mean) of the children whose home it now is? I would imagine that settling in will be in delicate balance for a long time and my two are already comfortably familiar with the house where the children will be living will

LittlePushka · 31/12/2010 22:34

extra "will" there for no reason...?!

NanaNina · 01/01/2011 13:17

You are obviously a very sensitive person so I am sure you will find your way around beginning to form a r/ship with yur friend's adopted children.

Obviously the children will need a considerable time to settle with their new parents and their new home, and I would be guided by your friends as to when you meet. I don't see a problem with going to see them at their new home, after all this is what will happen in the future won't it, and visits to yours in the usual way between friends. The other thing is that foster carer's homes are usually very busy with all sorts of people coming and going so they will be used to this.

I'm sure you will already know this, but when you do meet them, you need to be welcoming but wait for the children to come to you - usually better to sit on the floor and look at their toys with them so that it is a natural activity for pre-schoolers. I don't think you should worry- you have kids and will I am sure know instinctively how to start to form a r/ship with the children. However you are used to children and your friends aren't used to being parents, so be careful that the children don't relate more to you than their new parents!

Bit like walking a tightrope for everyone really but relax and take things as they come and try not to worry too much or the children will pick up on this.

Lilka · 01/01/2011 14:00

No, the home should be fine or at least it has been for people I know and for me. let your friends guide you as to the meeting, and i agree with let the kids come to you, don't corner them or try to make them interact with you. Gve them space and they'll be fine - of course they might be very social and come straight for a chat, but they may be nervous about you. Let your friends guide you on how close to get as well -they may not want you to hug the children just yet for instance.

As to when you'll meet, some families don't have meetings for people other than grandparents until some time has passed, whereas others do let thkids meet new people quite quickly. I have introduced the GP's first after about a week, then every 5 days or so had low key half hour meetings at home with close friends and family - the ones who will be doing babysitting first, then others later. Usually at home sometimes at play parks or in town if i need to have an in depth chat with the person and i don't want to be overheard by little ears Grin

LadyBiscuit · 01/01/2011 14:18

Reassure them as much as you can. A lot of the behaviour of my friends' adopted DD is perfectly normal for a child of her age and they struggled (at first) with trying to disentangle 'normal' toddler behaviour from acting out as a result of trauma. I know they have found it really reassuring that my DS can behave in just the same way.

Buy their children a gift when you first meet them too - I think it's really important to celebrate and they won't have had a lot of toys that belonged just to them in their lives.

It is 0-60 taking on adopted children so they are going to be on a very steep learning curve. You sound like a lovely friend :)

snail1973 · 01/01/2011 22:00

I had a really good friend who helped with with stuff like: what do I actually need to buy when a 10 month old baby arrives in my house?! I didn't know and I didn't know where to find that info out.

So be around for all that kind of practical info.

Also, the same friend brought us meals that we could heat up as and when we got the new LO off to sleep. That was massively helpful.

The weeks leading up to the child/ren coming home can be really stressful (especially the 'introductions' which involve lots of travelling and are hugely emotionally draining) so lots of love, support and celebratory words/presents/drinks!

My best wishes to them - it's such a wonderful journey

LittlePushka · 05/01/2011 21:34

NanaNina and Lilka thank you for your wise words...points gratefully received and duly logged.! Grin

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