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Thinking of adopting. Worried about loving.

13 replies

JojoMags · 18/05/2013 21:24

DH and I have had 3 lovely boys and there are medical reasons why I can't have more children. We are totally happy with our boys and love them more than anything but would both have liked a girl as well. DH has occasionally, but repeatedly over several years, raised the possibility of adoption. He is not the kind of person to do this lightly and it is a serious consideration for him. I am interested, but cautious.

I have two concerns. The first is that, as I understand it, you can't chose your child, but are matched with one by a social worker. Now when I meet people there are some that I take to and some that I don't. Some children I feel that I could love as my own and some I am indifferent to. Often there is no rational reason for these responses. I'm worried that we could be matched with a child who was compatible with us on paper, but which I couldn't connect with emotionally. How much say do you actually get as to whether or not a particular child is right? How well can you get to know them before a decision is made?

My second concern is how an adopted daughter would affect our family dynamic. Our middle son died before he was 1. Our oldest and youngest boys are 3.5 years apart but very close. DS1 is protective of his little brother who revels in being the adored baby of the family. We are closer as a family because of shared loss. Adoption is not an attempt to fill the space left by our son. It does not need filling. I am worried that an adopted daughter would seem like an outsider to our boys, who are such a team, and this would make her feel excluded and them resentful.

Our reasons for considering adoption it that we would like a daughter. We are young - DH and I are both 30 - and there is room in our future for more children. We would like to give a child the chance of a loving family and to enjoy watching her grow. But I have the concerns above. You might think that these makes me unsuited to adoption, and if so I'd rather hear it now than further down the line. Your thoughts would be apreciated, particularly if you have been through the process yourself. Thank you.

OP posts:
Ledkr · 18/05/2013 21:32

I'm not sure wanting a daughter will be enough130901477444 to fulfill the criteria.
Also there needs to be a reasonable age gap between your youngest child and the adoptee.
You should look into it further. Adopted children can need fairly intensive care and attention and be fairly demanding.
Would that sit well with your boys?

Ledkr · 18/05/2013 21:33

I have no idea what those numbers are sorry

JojoMags · 18/05/2013 21:37

We are not even at the beginning of the process yet. It wouldn't be something we would do for four or five years, by which time our youngest would be 7, and we would have to decide then if it would work for us. At this stage I am just exploring my own feelings about it and am interested in other people's experiences.

OP posts:
Tigglettchic · 18/05/2013 21:45

Hi, I work in the adoption field and so wonder if I can give some pearls of wisdom?

I think your concerns are valid.

With regards to 'choosing' a child. You will be presented with profiles of the child, these profiles may be on paper well matched to your paper profile, however, you have full say. For example, I have approached families with three sets of profiles, profile 3 being a little bit of a wild card i.e at the top end of the age range that you are approved for but the adopters may surprise me and choose that one.

With regards to getting to know, you will not meet the child until you have been formally 'matched' and there will be an introduction period which can break down if it is not going well and it is imperitive that you communicate with your Social Worker after each session so that if you are not sure it does not go too far.

With regards to you DCs, it always amazes me that the ones that you would be most worried about, the 'close' siblings have an amazing ability to make room in their team, as long as they are completely involved in the process they will be fine. They will be part of the assessment as well.

I hope these things help.

In addition, some light bedtime reading that will get you started with thinking about taking on a child/baby you have not spawned yourself include: What Every Parent Needs to Know: The incredible effects of love, nurture and play on your child's development by Margot Sunderland and Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby's Brain
Sue Gerhardt.

I hope some of this or all of it helps. To adopt is the most amazing things someone can ever do, however, it has to be right. You could always call your Local Authority to get some advice, no strings attached.


LEMisdisappointed · 18/05/2013 22:01

I don't have any experience of adoption, but i felt that your post came across as very honest - and I totally understand your concerns. I think the fact that you have those concerns and you are honest with yourself about them actually is a positive in terms of whether you could make this work - because your expectations are realistic. I wish you the best of luck, whatever you decide. I do wonder though if you are seriously considering this whether you should make initial "official" enquiries now and not wait as the process is probably quite long so if you wanted this to happen when there is a specific age gap (within reason) it might be better to get things moving, that doesn't mean you have to commit to anything now.

Lilka · 18/05/2013 23:59

You have valid concerns and don't be at all worried to voice them - it's good to think about and to feel as comfortable as possible with the process before going forwards. You don't sound at all unsuitable to adopt.

Chemistry/connection is IMHO, very real, BUT not at all necessary for an adoption to be successful. I felt a connection with my eldest just from her paper short profile and photo, and it was real and strong. It's not love or a bond, it's different. I felt that connection to a lesser degree with my middle child and youngest child. One of my friends is a foster carer and she also experiences this with her foster children - some she very quickly feels a strong connection for, and other's she just doesn't. Some she attaches to quickly, others it's harder to feel close to them. It isn't about behaviour, it's something else. The connection I felt for them really helped me feel I should move forward, however many adoptive parents with very happy adoptions never felt that.

When you are linked and then matched with a child, the first stage would be paper profile and probably a photo with that. You need to be okay with what's on the paper before proceeding further.

Different LA's then do it differently. Many will show you a DVD of your potential match before you fully commit, and i guess that's what you'd be looking at seeing in your case, and I think completely OK to ask to see before proceeding. A couple of them will sometimes do something where you observe the child from a slight distance without the child knowing you are there, but that is rare.

Once it is official and you are formally matched by a panel, you make a book and/or DVD of yourselves for your child and they are told you are mummy and daddy who are going to take them home and be there forever, and you begin your introductions period with them. Now in my mind, at this point disruption is the total last resort if the situation is untenable, because at this point the child knows. I don't say this lightly because I have been quite close to disruption myself with my eldest, and my eldest had a disrupted adoption before I adopted her. That disruption had a major impact on her. If you disrupt after being introduced to your child as mummy, it will have a big and pretty negative impact on them, and make it harder for any subsequent adoptive parents, and the child won't trust them not to disrupt as well, like the last ones. Personally, I would never disrupt introductions purely because I was not feeling a connection to the child - I would need to seriously feel that adoption was really unlikely to succeed before I talked ending intros.

Connection means a lot to some adoptive parents, but you know, a lack of instant conection does NOT mean you won't love them. It may make the bonding process harder, but you end up in the same place - mother's love. Lots of adoptive parents feel nothing and go in and are very happy and adore their children. Attachment and love is something that grows over time. In fact my biggest advice to prospective parents is not to expect it to be easy to love and attach, because this is a stranger moving in, and not to beat yourself up over that. If you fake love with a child you aren't feeling anything for, it will come for real in time :)

Lilka · 19/05/2013 00:04

Ps. As well as the paper profile, photo and DVD you get with many authorities, you meet with the foster carer, medical officer/paediatrician and any relevent others and ask them any questions you need to ask - so you can get to know your childs circumstances, character, behaviours pretty well before meeting them. Don't hold back on questions, ask everything you need and want to know, so you are as prepared for your child as you possibly can be

Lilka · 19/05/2013 00:09

PPS. You are very involved at each stage. Yes usually it's your social worker who approaches you with a child but you can see lots of children's profiles and can at any time back out till you decide that this is a definite yes and to proceed to matching panel and commit yourself to this child. You absolutely are never forced to adopt a particular child.

An alternate route to matching, epecially if you are looking for a child who is slightly older or/and has some additional needs, would be to subscribe to the waiting child magazines (Be My Parent and Children Who Wait). They profile children who need to be adoped and you can enquire on those children. Often you don't get a reply but sometimes the social worker will see you, be interested and follow up. You get the long paper profile then the social worker interview then DVD etc just as before...the difference is that you are one who approaches the social worker rather than the other way around

JojoMags · 19/05/2013 10:38

Thank you Lilka and Tigglett for such an in depth responses. They're really helpful, and LesMis for your words of encouragement. I am new to this talk topic and am genuinely amazed and touched by the level of support and help people give each other. Hope to be back soon.

OP posts:
Italiangreyhound · 19/05/2013 13:04

JojoMags can I just make a comment that you don't say much on but which strikes me very much as I read what you have written?

You mention your middle son who died aged 1 year. I am so very sorry to hear this and, although there are no words I am sure, I wanted to mention him because I am sure he is still a very big part of your thoughts and your view of yourself as a family. I expct (possibly - I am not an expert or even an adoptive parent yet) that social workers will be very interested to hear about your middle son. They will want to know that you have dealt with/moved on from/'processed' (sorry there really are no very good words to talk about this) the loss of your son. I am sure you are aware of this and obviously you have said you wil not be looking into adoption for a while but I wanted to ask about this and about any counselling etc you have had. You don't need to reply to me at all (or can PM) or simply ignore these comments but I wanted to raise this because this was the thing that really jumped out at me from your post.

I really don't mean to be cruel in asking this but I feel sure you will need to be comfortable talking about this with your social worker if you do proceed.

Lilka · 19/05/2013 14:46

I am new to this talk topic and am genuinely amazed and touched by the level of support and help people give each other

We're genetically modified vipers...we've got all kind and fluffy ;) Grin

In all seriousness, this is 99 times out of a 100, a very supportive and helpful corner of MN, and everyone here is keen to give (genuine) support to anyone to needs it. I have found it extremely helpful when I need a hand hold or some advice

I do agree with Italian . I am very sorry to hear about your son. It is something SS might spend quite a bit of time talking about with you

JojoMags · 20/05/2013 12:21

I know. We expected SS to focus on or son's death. That's OK.

OP posts:
FamiliesShareGerms · 20/05/2013 19:41

In addition to the wise words from others, I'd add that you might feel an immediate connection, you might not. You might find a connection with a child just from reading a short online profile, or it might take time. And there's probably no way to predict it.

In my prep group there were two instances of a possible match breaking down at an early stage, then a year later proceeding, and neither sets of adoptive parents had been able to really think about any other children in the intervening period because the original matches had felt so much like "theirs". One set of adoptive parents will now admit that when they first met their daughter they didn't feel anything, and it is only months and months later that they feel that they love her.

For me it was immediate, for DH it happened over a week or so.

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