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Considering adoption to complete the family but are my hopes realistic?

14 replies

bibbetybobbityboo · 22/08/2013 12:38

Hello, I've spent hours reading through the posts on this forum trying to make sense of my thoughts on adoption and whether it is something I want to pursue and I'm not quite there yet! My situation is that I am 30, my husband 32 and we have one birth daughter who is almost 4. Her birth was very complicated and as a result and subsequent pregnancies and indeed births would be high risk and potentially fatal for me and the baby so we decided after a debrief with a consultant to be clear about the situation that this was not a risk we were willing to take. I feel strongly however that I would like dd to have siblings if possible. DH is an only child himself and says he has no burning desire to have any more children. I am completely aware that he needs to be 100% for this before we consider applying and I also realise that this might never happen. It is something we are continuing to talk about. I am a teacher having recently had a career change to do this so want to allow a bit of time to settle into the role and sort our recovering finances after living as a student!

The thing I guess I keep returning to is whether I am deluded in thinking adoption is a way to complete out family. I have done lots of reading and am aware of the sorts of issues adopted children are likely to have and the unknowns and risks that are part and parcel of adopting. I like many others I am sure have limits as to what I would knowingly take on as a parent but in much the same way as I would and will deal with anything that comes our way regarding our birth child I would do the same with any child of mine. Ultimately though I want a family and reading the many posts on line it sometimes that adoption can be so disruptive that I wonder if this is really possible. I realise the road is often a rocky one, I realise that there are so many more unknowns than there are with birth children but ultimately if I am prepared for this is adoption likely to give me the happy family I would love to have, siblings that grow up together feeling equally loved and cared for. A family that for all intents and purposes is like any other. I'm not sure this is coming across at all how I mean it to, I guess I just want to know that it can have a happy ending for all involved whilst acknowledging that there is no certainty that this will be the case. I think I need to find some more honest but heartwarming stories to balance out some of the sadder ones I've read!

OP posts:
JammieMummy · 22/08/2013 13:33

Hello. You are at a tough stage, I will be honest I have never had birth children but I have 2 adopted children (adopted at different times). I can honestly say that right now I couldn't love them any more than I do. They aremy whole world and I would do anything for them. Yes they had/have issues to differing degrees and the "settling in period" was very hard going but wearer family and to an outsider you would never know they were adopted. But mine both came at young ages (20 months and 14 months) so very little damage done by birth family, the biggest issue has been the insecurities cause by leaving happy foster placements and put with practical strangers. They do overcome these but it takes time and their separation annxiety was extreme for a while.

There will be issues when they are older around them being adopted I would imagine but I am not worried about it.

If you would like to ask any specific questions please feel free to PM me.

Hayleyh34 · 22/08/2013 13:42

No-one can answer that for you. I have an adopted DD who I absolutely adore. At times it has been very challenging and due to her background it probably always will be.

It depends on what you mean by "happy ending". Adoption and issues surrounding adoption never disappear they just manifest themselves differently as your child gets older

Lilka · 22/08/2013 15:24

I have 3 children (all adopted) whom I love more than life itself and don't regret adoption at all. I feel blessed to have them as my children, and I can't imagine them not being in my life. They also love each other as sisters and brother, although they do have fights and fall outs occasionally.

But in terms of being like other families, we aren't. My two older children have or have had many issues to deal with because of their early trauma which mean raising them has not been like raising a neurological child at all. My youngest has some additional issues which doesn't hugely impact on our day to day life but does require special thought, some forward planning and considered parenting sometimes and in certain situations.

Parenting children with extra issues (and I think my youngest child is pretty typical for a child adopted at a young age without having suffered serious abuse) hasn't been an awful experience. It isn't devastating or life ruining, and I would parent more children like my three. But it can be challenging and it is certainly 'different'. My family is a generally happy one and I feel we have a very positive adoption story, but we aren't a family just like every other. You don't necessarily need to be like everyone else to be happy

Hayleyh34 · 22/08/2013 15:32

Listen to Lilka, she always says it perfectly Grin

Lilka · 22/08/2013 16:57

I meant neurotypical not neurological

Thanks Hayleh :)

bibbetybobbityboo · 22/08/2013 18:14

Thank you, Lilka your post is particularly helpful and what I was looking to hear. So my family might be very different to the way it is now but it can be different and still be a happy, solid family unit. There's a lot to think about.

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Lilka · 22/08/2013 19:13

It is a lot to consider and its a scary step to take in many ways, since adoption is certainly a very different way to go than having a birth child. Most people have worries and concerns, they're totally normal.

There are some parents whose children sadly have major issues which can be very very hard or impossible to live with, but ime the majority of adopted children don't have that level of need. The majority seem to have some additional needs which might require careful parenting and planning, and may need input from professionals, but those issues don't prevent the family from being a family who love each other. The vast majority of adoptions of children under school age are successful (ie. They don't disrupt). Well the majority of all adoptions are successful but serious issues and disruption is a bit more common when older children are adopted, as the children are often suffering the effects of years of abuse and turmoil.

I think expectations can be important. If you go in expecting a child who is completely like other children their age, then your adopted child displays some common issues caused by their early life (Eg. Serious separation anxiety) it might feel far more difficult than if you had expected your child to have some difficulties in this area and were not surprised by it. I find my DS a joy to parent even with the few issues he does have, but I imagine a person who had expected him to have 0 issues would feel a bit more 'negative' than me because their original expectation wasn't met.

I feel the same way about my DD2, who has the most needs out of all my kids. She isn't representative of most adoptions because she was 8 when she came home and I adopted her knowing she had special needs (most adoptions are of younger children without known serious issues). I do find parenting her very challenging sometimes and yet I am still generally happy and mostly very positive about it - I think a large part of that is because I knew about her needs and chose to parent a child with those needs.

Lilka · 22/08/2013 19:23

I mean that if I had wanted and expected a relatively normal child and adopted DD2 then I would probably be far more unhappy in many ways, because I would be thinking about how this wasn't what I wanted and grieving for the child I wanted to have and would also have not prepared for some of these issues in advance. I don't want to give the impression that I'm always happy and liking every day, that's not the case. We have bad days or weeks and I get frustrated and fed up and upset. But my overall feeling about the adoption this far in is that it has been a positive thing for everyone concerned, and as I said I absolutely unconditionally love her.

bibbetybobbityboo · 23/08/2013 08:37

Thanks again Lilka, I guess the key thing is going into it with your eyes open and realistic expectations. I think I have a clearer perspective on things now to have more informed discussions with DH about whether this could be a way forward for us. In my heart I really think it is but I think this one needs to be a decision of the head really, and of DH too.

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Hayleyh34 · 23/08/2013 11:16

I totally agree with what Lilka has said but just to add a word of caution - even if you think you know what to expect, you will not know how it actually feels.

We pretty much knew what the challenges with DD would be but it felt very, very different once she was living with us. It felt like a huge shock even though on paper we knew everything

bibbetybobbityboo · 23/08/2013 11:59

Thanks Hayley, I guess while it is very different there are a lot of parallels with having birth children. I certainly thought I was very prepared for what to come and in reality, living it was very different, plus things didn't quite go the way I was expecting which threw lots of things I'd planned and imagined right out of the water! Im not saying that its the same thing at all but that as a sort of reference point using something i can compare it to I guess adopting might be a bit like the extremes of having birth children, the unknowns and the shock to the system etc.

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irishe · 24/08/2013 01:04

I would agree with most of the above. I would add that I found it very difficult during the home study to consider the type of backgrounds of a child we might consider. For example, birth family having a history of learning difficulties, mental health conditions, drug and alcohol use during pregnancy. The reason it was difficult was that, at that point in time it was all theoretical. The scared part of me inside was thinking 'I'm not sure I can cope with that' whilst the logical part was saying, 'well you will need to, because that could be the reality'.
Now that dd is home with us, those unknowns have not gone away, dd is very young and developmentally the future is unknown. However, the big difference is that now we know and love her, it is not an abstract discussion with a sw, it is real, it is our life, the life we have chosen. So now I think, whatever happens we will face it as a family and do our best to support our daughter. I am not saying, that love is all anyone needs to make adoption work, clearly that is not the case, and some children have been so badly hurt by their lives, how can they fail to bring this pain with them? But just that for me, at this point, having attached/bonded/loved our child, it gives me a sense of hope for the future. And that's enough for now.

FamiliesShareGerms · 24/08/2013 11:27

I can provide one of those "happy ending" type stories, with the major caveats that nothing in our experience is typical, and DD is still young and there is plenty of time for things to go horribly wrong!

We have a birth DS who was six when DD came to us. One key driver in us adopting was to give him a sibling, and that also meant that when we were considering where our "red lines" were in terms of the children we would consider, we had to take into account both our ability to parent and the potential impact on him in the short and long term. For example, we couldn't consider a child with a known life limiting condition as we would like DS and DD to be family to each other long after we pop our clogs (and indeed to help make the decisions on our nursing homes etc!)

We have been exceptionally lucky with DD in that she - so far - has not displayed any problems over and above normal toddler behaviour. She is well advanced for her years. She and DS adore each other - perhaps more than most other siblings I know. We were actually quite glad when they started to fight recently, as they were almost too perfect together (though it's better when they make up quickly..!)

But although DD is genuinely wonderful and we really are a "complete" family unit now, it isn't the same as having another birth child and never will be. We know we will have to deal with the circumstances under which she was taken into care at some point, but even now at three years old we have to deal with conversations where she is upset because she "wasn't in my tummy when she was a baby" and wishes she had been.

So I would say that it is realistic to consider adoption, but to remain realistic about the potential impact on you and your DD. Feel free to PM if you have any specific questions about adopting with a birth child.

bibbetybobbityboo · 24/08/2013 22:03

Thanks again for all the really helpful comments. DH and I talked about it all a lot today. DHs biggest concerns are about whether he (we) is a good enough parent. We're not perfect and would never claim to be. We make mistakes all the time with dd. I suggested that the adoption process would help us learn to parent an adoptive child and probably also make us better parents to our dd but i know what he means. I do kind of feel that we need to be close to perfect to parent an adopted child well. Is there room for the usual parent mistakes in that relationship? I think reading between the lines that he is also worried about not feeling the same way about an adopted child as he does about dd. I am more convinced now that this is the right thing for us but while DH is open to investigating further and likes the idea in theory he's not sure it's something he really wants to pursue. We agreed that the next sensible thing would be to attend an open evening to discuss and find out more. We wouldn't really be in a position to take anything further until next year so there's no point rushing to do that now. In the mean time I will continue to read and learn more and we will continue to discuss how we feel about it all.

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