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Birth mum has new baby...

19 replies

hidinginthenightgarden · 04/01/2018 19:12

DD has been home less than 18 months, adoption order granted less than 6 months ago. Her birth mum had another baby before xmas and I have found out today that she is being allowed to raise this baby as she is in better circumstances this time around.
Despite my reservations about it being so soon after DD I am pleased for birth mum that she has made positive changes to her lifestyle, my only concern now id how to explain this to DD?
How do I explain to her that only 2 years after she was taken into care and only weeks after her adoption was finalised, her half sibling was allowed to stay. How do I explain that her mum made changes for her sibling that she couldn't make for her?
I also have a birth child that will need to be aware that his sister has a sibling that isn't a sibling to him. He is a smart kid and will probably understand the simple explanation but how do I raise this in the first place? DD is not old enough to understand any of this yet but I can't announce it in a few years to them both can I so how do I even begin to discuss the complexity of the situation?
I would very much appreciate any advice on this from someone who has been through it. Many thanks.

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Shadowboy · 04/01/2018 19:18

How old is she at the moment may I ask- would she understand anything?

That’s a tricky situation.

hidinginthenightgarden · 04/01/2018 19:45

She is only 2. Really wouldn't understand at all right now.

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UnderTheNameOfSanders · 04/01/2018 20:23

I'd tell them both now, and then keep the info as part of the general lifestory telling you'll keep doing.

When you were little BM couldn't look after you and keep you safe which is why we are now your Mummy and Daddy. But BM has learned a bit better now how to look after babies and she has grown another one who she is looking after.

You don't even have to use the word sister/brother/sibling to start with. Just basic facts, and over time understanding will grow.

And it might still go horribly wrong for the BM a second time, so don't worry about 2 or 5 years time, you really don't know what the situation will be like then.

We've done a lot of conversations around 'yes it is a shame/sad that BM couldn't keep you safe'

Jellycatspyjamas · 04/01/2018 20:30

Our situation is fairly similar in that BM had a new baby just after my two were placed. It's been agreed that we won't talk to our two about the new baby just yet - it wouldn't help them settle, they have a lot of anxiety about BM and there's every chance this little one will eventually be removed so until the outcome is more certain I think my two have enough to cope with. I know that isn't a popular decision on here but it's definitely the right one for my kids.

When the time is right we'll talk about it as part of life story work, explaining that BM wasn't able to care for them but was able to learn how to care for new baby with help.

hidinginthenightgarden · 04/01/2018 20:44

Thanks ladies. We have our letterbox coming up and I assume that birth mum will mention the baby so I will bring it up then once I have had time to think about it.

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Jellycatspyjamas · 04/01/2018 21:17

Our BM decided she wouldn't mention new baby in letterbox contact, leaving us to decide when the time would be right. Your little one is very small to be trying to process this stuff, I'd be inclined to not say anything until she was old enough to understand better - I think part of our job is to support our DC to understand their identity, but it's also our job to protect them from stuff that they're too young to deal with. That's certainly the stance I'm taking with my two, who are older than your DC. I won't hide it from them forever but just now they have enough to cope with.

I guess I'm saying think about why you'd be sharing st this stage and whether there's another way to do it/better time to do it.

hidinginthenightgarden · 04/01/2018 21:23

Thanks Jellycat. to be honest my reason for telling now would be so that it would just be another aspect of the adoption. So I would never have to sit her down and explain it, she would just grow up knowing.

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anewoneforthis · 04/01/2018 21:40

I agree with Sanders that it is best to talk about it immediately but only in very outline terms. With the two year old, I am not sure it is necessary to say where there child is going to live (you are not sure in any event) but be aware of your dc's reaction, over days and weeks, as IME a 2 year old will understand to a greater or lesser extent but it is unlikely they would tell you how they feel or ask questions, so you have to try to read their minds and provide reassurance based on your gut instinct as and when needed. IME it would erode your relationship with a child if they found out later that you knew about something but didn't tell them, it is better to tell as quickly as possible and then to help them deal with it. I realise that this is different from what you have said jellycat and I am not challenging your advice, I wouldn't presume to say I am right and you are wrong, more giving a different pov.

hidinginthenightgarden · 04/01/2018 22:02

Thanks anewoneoforthis.
She is a little behind developmentally so it would be like telling an 18 month old they have a sibling they will never meet. Right now she will not understand at all. She has no memory of anything but us right now so talking about the adoption to her is easy as she just sees it as another story. I don't want to have to spend years wondering when is the right time to tell her.

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tictoc76 · 04/01/2018 22:11

How certain is it that birth mother will be able to keep up this arrangement and keep the baby with her on a permanent basis? Maybe she is in a more stable relationship?

I would be reluctant to say anything much until some time passes and it becomes a more definite thing. If the AO is recent then that’s not long to have made a lot of changes and to show you can maintain them, I’m not wishing her to fail but it would be awful to tell your kids about the baby and it staying with BM only to have to tell them later the baby was removed.

We are in a similar situation and are choosing to keep it from the kids until there is more certainty about the babies future. Obviously there is a balance to be reached as you don’t want to withhold information either.

Also - I would consider my adopted kids siblings related to my birth kids. They have a connection even though not a blood one.

anewoneforthis · 04/01/2018 22:17

I see what you mean in terms of development. When you say "never meet" are you sure? I am not sure it is necessary to comment on that one way or the other.

Not relevant at all but I meant "the child" in line 2 not "there child".

hidinginthenightgarden · 04/01/2018 22:18

TIctoc, I am not convinced she will be able to keep it up long term unfortunately although I hope I am wrong.
About 9 months ago the SW described her as extremely vulnerable, unable to advocate for herself in court. She does have a new relationship but there were so many other issues surrounding the circumstances in which DD was put forward for adoption. I cannot imagine she has shown able to significant changes for a sustained period of time. I fear if the relationship breakdown, the baby may end up in care.
That said, I would want DD to know about the baby either way. Discussing the reasons she couldn't stay and this baby can is obviously a conversation for when she is much older which gives me time to see the outcome.

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hidinginthenightgarden · 04/01/2018 22:20

Of course there is a chance they will meet in adulthood but again, its not something you can explain to a child so young.

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MerryBerryDerry · 04/01/2018 22:46

Regular with a name change here. I was in almost exactly the same position as you. BM was pregnant at the time adoption was finalised and had baby shortly after. The baby has remained with her as has different dad to my child.

I'd echo what others have said about drip feeding it right from the start so that it just becomes part of her adoption story. This was advice given to me by Joy Rees on a life story training course I went on. BM mentions sibling in letterbox letters and although my child hasn't read the letterbox letters yet I didn't want to be in the situation of LO asking 'who is X?' if and when she does read the letterbox letters.

My child has begun to get more and more interested in her life story as she's got older. Interestingly, she is never interested or at least has never asked about the baby BM went on to have. She does however ask lots of questions about both her birth parents. Time will tell whether this situation changes as she gets older but I wholeheartedly believe that it is in my child's best interests to be aware BM had another child after she was adopted. I think it is likely to be less unsettling to feel like you have always known this rather than to have it explained to you later in life when it would probably feel more like a bombshell or a secret that had been deliberately kept from you. I don't know whether this is the right thing to do but it felt better than having some very significant info about my child's life that I wasn't willing to share with her.

It's really tricky because I know when I heard the news BM was pregnant and was keeping this baby I was completely floored by it and felt that this would be a huge issue for my child 'why could my BM get her shit together for this baby but not for me?' But so far this hasn't cropped up - although am guessing it probably will at some point!

When I raised this with my SW she said to look at it a different way and perhaps explain it to my child in the following way. BM couldn't keep first baby due to dad's issues and behaviour. If my child had remained with her she would always have had a link with him and would never have been able to keep my child truly safe. BM agreeing (albeit very reluctantly) to adoption was a way to ensure my child's safety. She was able to keep the next child because the main risk (dad) was different. The only danger with this narrative is it runs the risk of making BM into the victim and whilst I don't want to demonise her to my child at all, I think it is very important to acknowledge that she also made choices and chose behaviour that put my child at very serious risk.

However, whilst I'm mindful this explanation is a fairly simplistic way of looking at it, it does kind of get the point across and may hopefully help my child to process the situation in a more positive way (ie it's not that you weren't good enough for BM but that BM couldn't protect you) when she gets older and wants to process this part of her life story.

I don't know, it's a really tough situation to be in. I think after all that rambling my advice would be drip feed the info that BM has had another baby as soon as you can. The phrase I've used is 'SWs are working hard to help X learn how to be a good mother and look after this baby'. I have deliberately avoided describing the baby (who is now a child) as her sibling as felt at this point that would just be confusing.

As the years have passed I have no idea where BM is or whether she had had subsequent children. None are mentioned in letterbox but i haven't had replies for the last 3 times and I think it's highly likely BM will go on to have more if she hasn't already.

Objectively, I am extremely glad BM has managed to seemingly turn her life around. She'd had a horrendous time and found herself in shitty situations that she didn't have the support or capacity to cope with.

Emotionally however, I can often feel quite angry on my child's behalf that BM got her act together so quickly after losing her first child. Particularly when I am seeing on a daily basis the huge emotional impact of BM's choices and behaviour on my child's sense of self and self esteem. It's a tough one.

hidinginthenightgarden · 05/01/2018 05:39

Thank you Merry, useful insight,

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topcat2014 · 06/01/2018 10:58

Are you supposed to share the letterbox contents with the child then?

UnderTheNameOfSanders · 06/01/2018 11:10

Strictly speaking letterbox is between the Adoptive parents and the birth family.
Different adoptive parents share differing amounts dependent on their situation and their child, there isn't a right or wrong really:

  • some show or read the whole letter
  • some say letter has arrived and give key info
  • some don't discuss letters but drip feed info as appropriate
  • some don't mention at all but save for when child is older

We share (or at least make available) the whole letter, but the BF get help writing it so it is always 'appropriate'.
topcat2014 · 06/01/2018 13:24

@Under - thanks - we are in stage 1, so just getting used to some of the concepts

hidinginthenightgarden · 06/01/2018 15:36

My intention is to share the contents- removing anything inappropriate. Ss are supposed to vet them but friends of ours received their first letterbox before Xmas and it was basically a kidnap threat!

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