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Are these the right motivations? Feeling so confused

134 replies

MaryQueenOfSpots · 05/11/2013 10:37

My DH and I have a lovely but eccentric 5 year old DS who we love beyond reason. While watching him grow and become independent of us is amazing, I find in my heart I want to re-experience it all again. Simultaneously, my head tells me to enjoy the freedom to mumsnet work and have some of my own time now DS is at school.

We have tried to conceive naturally for 3 years and now I have reached my 40s, I'm beginning to come to terms with being infertile. Everyone says to consider IVF and I did go to a clinic to find out more, but morally I just can't get past the thought that there are already children who really need a family and that genetics isn't everything.

If we didn't have a child already, we would have no hesitation in taking on the challenges that an adopted child may bring but we need to consider DS in the equation. I love him to pieces but I recognise that he may struggle more than other only children to accommodate a sibling. He prefers adult company or imaginary friends even when there are other children to play with. I definitely wouldn't see the adopted sibling as a playmate for him.

However, he is very nurturing and affectionate to visiting younger children and when alone, he often plays with a baby doll - changing its nappy, trying to make the baby laugh. In the longer term I think it would do him good to have to share me and DH. I would also hope that once both the children were adults, they would benefit from having each other.

I also worry about whether the additional needs of a traumatised child will be too much for DS. I'd hate to make him unhappy by my selfish desire for a bigger family. When I read the forums I really worry. But this is somewhat counterbalanced by the experience of a friend who adopted two children (aged 3 and 5 at adoption, now 6 and 8) who has had a few tricky issues (control over food and bedwetting) but on the whole it has been a great experience for them. I am pretty sure we could cope with similar.

I am so confused about whether my motivations to adopt are the right ones, or even if they are realistic. Was my friend exceptionally lucky with her children? It's helped to write all this out funnily enough, but I would be so grateful for the views of anyone involved in adoption.

OP posts:
Lilka · 05/11/2013 14:48

To be honest, I think the only universal motivator to adopt is 'I really want another child'! If you really want to be a mum again then adoption might well be exactly the right way for you to go about it

You do need to make your head and your heart have a serious conversation with each other, and get mostly in line with each other. Sort out how you really feel, about work, freedom etc, so you are totally comfortable with all the things involved in parenting a younger child again

Don't be swayed towards IVF if you definitely aren't interested. I do believe that if you have a desire for a biological child, then you should persue that, because you need to be absolutely committed to adoption. But if you truly aren't interested in having another birth child if you could adopt, then it's all fine. Apart from the nosy people. Ignore them/think of good responses to shut them up

Adopting to give a child a playmate would be a bad reason, but clearly you don't feel that way. Everyone who adopts, either after having a birth child, or adopting their first child, will have concerns about their existing childm and what they can manage in light of their existing child/rens needs. I've never had a birth child but adopting for a second/third time gives you the same concerns about how your existing children will cope, what you can manage as a family etc. In my experience, most people do let their existing childs needs be a big guide in deciding what kind of child to adopt for instance, what needs they can accept etc

I don't think your hopes are unrealistic either. You hope for a generally good family life, but are prepared for some of the issues a traumatised child might have, like the issues you've seen your friends children have, and you are comfortable with those issues. Unrealistic would be hoping for a child with zero issues and zero problematic background factors. In my experience, the majority of waiting children have some issues but not major issues. So, food issues, sleep issues, insecurities, are all very common. Other common issues can be social/making friends, speech and language, some developmental delays etc. You do have to be realistic that its not always possible to identify a childs needs pre placement, and sometimes a child will display difficult behaviours you didn't realise they had. But I personally know many happy families whose children have issues but that doesn't stop them from having a good family life. They do have extra things to consider, sometimes have to parent in a different way using different techniques than you would for a secure child, more forward planning involved with certain things. That doesn't stop them being absolutely glad they adopted and unable to imagine life without their precious children

My son, for instance, is 8 now, and came home aged 23 months. He has had, still has, some insecurities, trust issues, seperation anxiety, sleeping problems (these are mostly in the past now), and problems making friends. He used to struggle in school a lot but has now caught up and he is actually very happy in school right now, which is great! He is an absolute joy :) I have to plan some things carefully and use forward planning (eg. invited to large family gathering, i know he's going to struggle with that, what can i do to help?), use some different parenting (no time out, but quiet time with mum instead), do things i wouldn't necessarily need to do with another child - he might regress slightly and need more babying, rocking on my lap, he needs to excercise away his nervous energy as he can get very hyperactive when anxious so masses of outdoor stuff, he struggled in reception/Y1 because he had a deep fear i wouldn't come and pick him up at the end of th day and he'd been abandoned, so I sent him to school with a hanky smelling of me (I sprayed it with my perfume and wore it on my skin for a couple of day before giving it to him) and a possession of mine to look after for me, and it made him feel much more secure. Just some examples of parenting a child like him. Things that don't prevent us being a mum and son who adore each other, and wouldn't be without each other for anything :)

My older ones do have/have had very significant issues, but again, I don't regret adopting them for a second, and I do feel that we are a positive adoption story, a success story. They have a mum, a family. It's not easy, it's been and is incredibly difficult sometimes, but it's worth it. I do think though, that since I chose to adopt older children whom I knew had histories of abuse and emotional and behavioural problems, that I'm not really the best example of an adoptive family to give to someone who is thinking of adopting a younger child without (known) significant issues. It is of course possible that a child adopted young could go on to develop significant issues a few years down the line, but for me, a bumpy ride and challenges was always a certainty, not a possibility. So I think my sons story and my life with him is the best thing to focus on, because it's just (IMHO) much more likely to reflect your situation if that makes sense.

Lilka · 05/11/2013 14:49


massive essay alert



LydiaLunches · 05/11/2013 14:58

Gosh, both posts are beautiful, expressively written and completely inspiring. You sound like such lovely parents.

Kewcumber · 05/11/2013 16:24

Wot Lilka says...

She saves me so much time.

Moomoomie · 05/11/2013 17:09

Again, I totally agree with Lilka.

MaryQueenOfSpots · 05/11/2013 20:20

Lilka - thank you so much for your post, it is so inspiring to hear of an adopter who has had some difficulties but found their way through. It resonates with my experience of knowing my friend's two adopted children quite well, and it's good to hear that this is the norm not the exception.

I will take your advice and have a really hard think about whether I want to give up my new found free time to intensively parent a young child again. I'm pretty sure I do as I mope on my day off work when DS is at school!

I will also have another think about IVF to make sure I am totally ok about not having a biological child. The whole fertility industry seems so cynical - taking money in exchange for hope - I find it hard to engage in the process. It doesn't help that DH's sister has had 4 failed IVF cycles and I've seen the emotional toll on someone who is resourceful and resilient.

Thanks again to all who posted, especially Lilka. I liked the essay Smile

OP posts:
Devora · 06/11/2013 17:50

Yep, Lilka saves us all a lot of work.

Mary, I'll just add that I adopted a 10 month old when my birth child was rising 5 - and a quirky, introspective, antisocial child she was (so much so that people kept telling me they thought she was autistic...)

Over 3 years later, both children are doing great. My eldest has blossomed, enjoys school, has good friends and goes to lots of parties. My younger is a fabulous, loving, demanding, funny child. They fight sometimes, but they also adore each other. I think they both gain a huge amount from having a sibling.

Now, that outcome couldn't be guaranteed (and may yet change!). It's a risk. Having an additional child is always a risk, but even more with adoption. Nobody can promise you how this will turn out.

But I know how depressing the adoption fora can be, and I want to assure you that your friend's experience is far from unique. Adoption always adds its own issues to a family, issues that have to be dealt with, but there is a continuum of experience with plenty of people at all stages of it.

roadwalker · 06/11/2013 18:03

I agree - motivation is wanting another/first child- so I dont see any problems with your motivation
The big question for me is
If an AC hurt your BC, if your BC decided it was the worst thing you had ever done (this is how my BS feels), if they didn't like each other
Could/would you still give your everything for the AC
That is crucial because IMO there is no going back once you have committed
AC have already been rejected and need parents who will stick with them and treat them as they would a BC

Technoprisoners · 06/11/2013 18:15

Would you pursue the IVF route thoroughly before moving on from it? I totally agree with what's been said above but I do think you need to address it fully between yourselves, whatever the outcome.

We adopted DS1 from a young baby. When he reached about 18 months, we realised we longed to do it all over again, like you, and that we desperately wanted another child. The IVF route had not, for various reasons, been something we'd wanted to try first, prior to adoption of DS1. Adoption for us was always a first choice, not a final attempt to gain a family. However, once we realised we wanted to extend our family, we decided to give the IVF route a chance, so that we could look back in later years and realise we'd been fully open to that and what may result from it. We didn't put any pressure on it for it to work - we already had our beautiful DS and were so lucky - but we wanted to be able to say we'd tried everything ...

It worked ... DS2 was born, a perfect brother for a perfect DS1 (and subsequently, was joined by a perfect DD!). If we hadn't been so blessed, we rationalised that at least we would have tried and not looked back with any regrets. We would probably have pursued the adoption route again, but tbh, I'm not sure we could have coped with the total invasion assessment brings. For us, adoption was the absolute priority the first time, but it had a high price; IVF was an entirely different, and equally prioritised, attempt to extend our family onwards. And it was very private and personal, just to us. We think we have been through the mill and back for all our DC and we wouldn't have it any other way.

Hope this makes some sense ... it is a very emotional subject for me and one which I don't often talk about.

I am sure you will be the most wonderful of parents, whatever path you decide to take. But do be open to /all/ options you are able to take. Good luck!

YesterdayI · 06/11/2013 20:01

I have no experience of adoption but I couldn't read and run after reading this thread. The posts are all so thoughtful. Mumsnet at its best Smile

taffleee · 06/11/2013 20:32

All the posts on here are so from the heart, bless everyone for posting what they did xxxx

The one thing that did stick with me tho from the OP post, was the suggestion that taking on an adoptive child who would be 'traumatised' - I really think this would come down to the specific background, there are alot of children in need of a new home who don't necessarily come from a 'traumatised' background, just maybe some parents who have quite difficult experiences who just cannot look after their children.

That doesn't mean the children were unloved, or came from a 'traumatised' home, it just meant a certain person wasn't able to cope with the responsibilties of being a parent.

I knew somebody at a very young age that put her child up for adoption, because she felt she couldn't offer her a good home, and it was the hardest choice of her life - and 20 years on she still cries over her choice, but stands by her decscision - we were very young x

roadwalker · 06/11/2013 20:36

Just being removed from BP is a trauma for a developing brain, then the care system is less than perfect
Trauma doesn't necessarily mean violence

taffleee · 06/11/2013 20:49

I was in the care system at 14, it was an horrific experience for me, but that doesn't mean there are some brilliant parents out there that can offer a better life x trauma no way means violence, but trauma doesn't also mean a loving mum who cant cope giving and trusting another mum to love their child.

To me that's, that's the hardest decision a mother could make, and you cannot judge a woman for doing that -

taffleee · 06/11/2013 21:01

At the end of the day there are just some people who cannot cope with being parents, it doesn't make them bad people, and I for one totally respect those people who put their hands up to it -

There are also people out there who are longing for children to love, who cant have children of their own, so I hope these two wrongs make a right x

Adoption just means giving an innocent child a life - adults see trauma, children don't see that - a loving home ends it x bless the OP for wanting to adopt, but don't see as a 'traumatised' child, just a kid who needs some hugs and kuds, and to be part of a family x

Lilka · 06/11/2013 21:01

taffleee, relinquished babies are very rare in the UK system today - there can't be more than say 40-50 a year at the very most, I may be overestimating a bit, out of 5000 adoptions. Nearly every single child waiting for adoption in the UK has been taken away by social services, which is ususally because of abuse (and neglect is often the most damaging form of abuse in terms of the long term impact it has on the developing brain), drug and alcohol exposure in utero, witnessing violence, OR if the baby is very young, because of background factors eg. most members of the birth family have severe mental health difficulties or learning difficulties, both of which have a heritable component to them.

Also, taking a child away from it's parents is a traumatic experience, as is moving a child from it's foster carers to adoptive parents. If a baby is taken away from it's birth parents very young, being taken from it's foster carers may well be the more traumatic experience. A toddler losing it's parents it's very frightening, confusing and upsetting.

So nearly all children waiting to be adopted in the UK are traumatised children who has been through traumatic experiences

The issue is not whether they have been traumatised, but how the trauma will affect them. Will the drug exposure lead to difficulties later? Will they have FASD? Will all the seperations lead to difficulties in forming trusting relationships? Very difficult to say, and it's impossible to predict accurately how a child will fare, although IME the majority of children do have some issues which are manageable and do not hugely impact on family life. Then a significant minority have more moderate/serious issues, some seem to escape unscathed by their experiences which is fantastic

OP may well not wish to adopt a child who been through numerous traumas, simply to minimise the likelihood of coping with significant issues, and instead adopt a child who has had few traumatic experiences or fewer background issues.

taffleee · 06/11/2013 21:07

Lilka Read my last post

Lilka · 06/11/2013 21:14

Adoption just means giving an innocent child a life - adults see trauma, children don't see that - a loving home ends it x bless the OP for wanting to adopt, but don't see as a 'traumatised' child, just a kid who needs some hugs and kuds, and to be part of a family x

It's great that you are so positive about adoption and that adoptive families are just as special as every other family

But fundamentally, as an adoptive mum, I totally disagree. My children are traumatised. My son was never abused, but even moving him around and the few months of unstable care in his early life have left him with longer term issues

He was too frightened to concentrate in school, because his experiences have left him with a deep rooted fear of abandonnement - how did he know I was going to keep picking him up day after day? He got angry and lashed out

He useed to be scared of misbehaving, because how did he know mummy wouldn't just abandon him if he was bad?

And he does NOT have signifiant needs

My eldest once asked me 'What exactly is love, cause x (friend) was saying how much she loves her mum and I don't know what she's talking about".

At the age of 27, over 20 years since she last went hungry, she has a deep need to have her fridge stocked to the max and have food in her pockets and handbag all the time.

Our children ARE beautiful, wonderful, resilient survivors who deserve nothing less than a committed and loving family for all their childhoods. I for one want to see more waiting children adopted

But it is very important for all adoptive families to understand trauma, and to be prepared for seeing the effects of it. Our children need hugs and love, but love is not enough. Hugs are not enough. That combined with time, consistency, committment, appropriate parenting should hopefully help them heal, but is no guaruntee at all that all of their issues will completely go away

My daughters have needed even more - therapy, counselling, statements and special schools etc

None of which, as I said, stops us being a family, and a positive successful adoption story. But when I look at the waiting children, I see traumatised children. I also see a lot more (the beauty, resilience etc) but i see trauma

taffleee · 06/11/2013 21:21

Lilka you seem very 'in know' to all these 'factors' - but what worries me is you've not mentioned once a child has been taken by social services because it was unloved.

You've mentioned 'witnessing violence' (which can mean anything from arguments between parents), to mental health difficulties (does that mean people suffering with depression should worry about their children being taken away??)

I'm going to stop there because i'm concerned, in NO WAY does anything ive mentioned above mean the children in that so called household are unloved or 'abused' -

taffleee · 06/11/2013 21:44

Lilka I totally respect you for being an adoptive parent, and the children you have seem very loved, and your the best of them.

I just worry about the parents who struggle, that's all, and maybe incorrectly judged because of what you have listed, and who I know are brilliant and loving parents -

I just think maybe there a lot of families out there who may just be in need of support, instead of judgement, and you mentioned abandonment - was this a case of social services taking away a child from a family that just needed some help, or a family that didn't love him??

I'm worried the latter falls into place more often than not now, i'm not talking about your personal experiences as you can only talk about what you have, and you seem to have supported your kids through it all, your a brill mum xx

I think this thread has made my mind up about fostering x But I'd want to work with parents also, i've no idea how to go about this, any advice would be great x

Lilka · 06/11/2013 21:46

Many children are unloved...being unloved is not a reason for taking a child into care

Conversely, I have found the opposite...most birth parents love their children very much and are very angry at SS and the courts for taking their children away from them permanently

Violence does not mean argueing. Violence, by its definition is physical. And yes, witnessing domestic violence, nearly always in conjunction with other serious issues IS a reason, in court, that will go in favour of a child being removed into care. Refusal to leave an abuser over an extended period will go in favour of the child being adopted

1 in 4 people in this country have had mental health difficulties, including many adoptive parents. Please don't put words in my mouth, I have never said anyone with depression needs to be worried about losing their child. In fact I got very angry with one person on a MH thread banging on about SS stealing depressed people's kids.

The inescapable truth however is that a small minority of people who sadly have severe MH difficulties cannot safely care for their children. The sad truth is that a big proportion of waiting children have birth family members with MH difficulties. Prospective parents, during the homestudy, WILL go through a form with their SW, which asks what needs/background they are willing to take on.

Eg. One or both birth parents are diagnosed with Schizophrenia. Yes/No/Maybe

One or both birth parents have moderate/severe learning disabilities. Yes/No/Maybe

(I can't remember exactly what form says, but mine was something like that)

Very important to think about it, although not in depth until homestudy stage, because all prospective parents MUST eventually do that form and have decided what needs they can cope with

Nearly every single child I have ever seen profiles for adoption has either neglect/abuse (whether sexual, physical or emotional), drug/alcohol exposure in utero, family history of MH difficulties/learning disability, or domestic violence as a big reason for removal/adoption. That's just how it is in the 21st century. Only a small minority of people with these difficulties will lose their children, but nearly all waiting children have these background issues

Lilka · 06/11/2013 21:49

Taffleee, I have NEVER seen a child up for adoption who did not need to be adopted. Their parents really could not care for them, although they (nearly always) love their children

I will always emphasise that

The waiting children just cannot be cared for safely by their birth parents, for all the reasons I listed, however much they are loved

Technoprisoners · 06/11/2013 21:49

I hear what you're saying, taffleee.

And Lilka, we all face these issues, regardless of where we come from. You are making a direct link between adoption and trauma. Not so. And the traumas of which you speak apply just as much to one's biological children as adoptive ones. How many of us can track our medical/psychological/emotional histories and project potential problems in the future? None of us can fully do that. You delve into the unknown when you have a child - adopted or not. And that is the real beauty of it.

Lilka · 06/11/2013 21:55

There is a very clear and absolute indirect link between trauma and adoption

Many children suffer trauma

A small minority of these children will become available for adoption

Nearly all the children in the UK in the 21st century who are waiting to be adopted, have been through trauma

So adoptive parents have to be prepared for that

They need to be prepared to parent a child who has issues due to their traumatic experiences

Because the VAST VAST majority of all adoptive families WILL deal with trauma related issues

Because our children have been traumatised

Social services, by the way, really emphasise this from the start. No prospective adopter will be left in any doubt. The preparation course will cover abuse, a little brain development, attachment difficulties, the effects of abuse, books will be recommended etc

So you can not go into adoption blind and hoping to get a child who has never experiences anything bad

taffleee · 06/11/2013 22:00

Techno I couldn't have said it better x

Lilka you have just hit a nerve - you've said certain children are not to be cared for 'safely', however how much they are loved???

So how about how much these children also love their parents, and with the right support their home life couldn't be made better, giving support to both parents and children???

taffleee · 06/11/2013 22:07

Lilka I totally understand where your coming from, your an adoptive, loving parent who is giving advice to potential 'adoptees', i understand that -

But not every child under 'adoption' has come from a 'traumatic' home, you have to understand that also-

Also, not every child has been taken from an 'unloving' home - you are talking from your experiences - you have to understand that also?

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