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Here are some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on adoption.



5 replies

Sweetpotatocurrymummy · 01/01/2019 18:56

A close family member is hoping to adopt an older child. She will be a single adopter and has asked me if I will support her. I'm not entirely sure what that entails but if you are adopting alone you can specify people who will be more involved than usual in the early days? I'll learn about that I'm sure.

She knows I am posting here and is happy for me to do so.

Years ago I had a work colleague with a child. I found her child very hard to be around. I can't put this into words very well. She just seemed really knowing. Mature beyond her years, would make remarks that were quite inappropriate for her age, I was always a bit on edge around her and when she was around my kids. They learned things from her I would rather they hadn't learned quite so soon.

I later found out that she was adopted, had been school age and had obviously had a lot of life experiences an average child her age would not have had and this showed in her behaviour towards other people.

I found myself feeling quite intimidated (that's not quite the right word) by her. I kept thinking about how this child had experienced things far beyond my experience and comfort zone. When she said something I would wonder what had caused her to want to say it. I found myself focussing too much on her past. I am well aware that her past is none of my business, I shouldn't let it affect my view of her at all.

I know this sort of behaviour she was showing is probably to be expected and there will be ways of managing it. That's not what bothers me. It's my reactions to it. I don't want to be paranoid about a child joining my family, or be looking at them and imagining what has gone on in their past. That's really unfair on a child.

Is my reaction at all normal? Does it fade over time as you get to know your child better? Was it just the particular child I met who has made me feel this way? Chances are I know other adopted kids but I don't know they are adopted and I get on just fine with them.

I have to say I found the child I am talking about uncomfortable to be around before I knew they were adopted, that was not the reason.

I don't want to offer to support my family member if I have this weird inability to see past a child's past.

I have probably explained myself really badly and come across as some sort of voyeur fixated on terrible things that have happened to children. That's not how I mean it at all. I am posting with the absolute best of intentions (and some changes of details so no-one is recognisable).

Can anyone reassure me at all? Or tell me to get a grip? Either is fine, I'm happy to be told I'm being ridiculous.

Thank you

OP posts:
Ted27 · 01/01/2019 19:50

I think its pefectly natural to be apprensive -its a step into the unknown for everyone, but I do think you need to ask her what she wants from you.

I'm a single adopter and my son was nearly 8 when he came home. The thing I found most valuable was my mum, and my two best friends on the end of the phone who would just listen. Unfortunately my friends and family are not quite close enough to offer much practical help but I know some of my single adopter friends greatly appreciated the appearance of casseroles etc that they could bung in the oven, or someome popping round in the evening after child's bedtime for a cup of tea(wine), some shopping or help with housework.

The important thing is to be there, without interfering, so she needs to say what she needs - though she might not actually know till the child arrives. But don't commit to more than you can realistically give, particularly if you have children of your own to consider.
Please also remember that parenting an adopted child is very different to parenting a birth child, so be careful what advice you offer. I'm not saying your experience as a mum is not valuable, its just that adopted kids work a bit different.

PoppyStellar · 01/01/2019 21:35

Agree wholeheartedly with Ted I’m also a single adopter. The one thing that I’ve learnt is that support comes in different ways from different people. At the time of adopting my support network looked completely different to what it does now (several years post adoption order).

When I was going through the process my best friend who I relied on for most support was childless like me. I fully expected (and they did too) for them to be my main source of support and they have been great but not in ways I would necessarily have expected. They are a great source of emotional support for me, personally, but in terms of practical hands on support (which I think we both thought they would provide) that’s come from other people.

What I’m trying to say in a rambling and probably not very clear way is that you can be support for your family member but it doesn’t necessarily have to be physically supporting or interacting with the child, sometimes some of the best support can be that which is in the back ground - the person you can phone for a rant, meet for coffee when you have 5 mins whilst your child is at school or nursery or whatever, and the person who turns up with - or in my case leaves on the doorstep - a bottle of gin and a big bar of chocolate

MrsMatty · 01/01/2019 21:37

As an adoptive grandparent, I supported my daughter and SIL in the following ways during introductions and the early weeks:
Batches of meals for the freezer, getting in bits of shopping, taking their cat to the vet etc. Lots of little practical things to help take the pressure off them.
Later, when LO was well settled in, I offered child minding and baby sitting, but was clear as to what I could provide. This has worked well and my grandchild and I have a really good relationship. But LO was only a toddler when placed, so what's needed may be different in your case. I try to be on hand for cups of tea and chats too. As Ted27 says, parenting an adopted child is different.
With regard to the child's background, it is possible that you may not be told details; adoptive parents are encouraged to be discreet about their child's previous experiences- this is their story and not necessarily shared with others. My own experience is that I love my adopted grandchild every bit as much as my birth grandchildren - I wouldn't change anything.

Italiangreyhound · 03/01/2019 11:19

Sweetpotatocurrymummy (love the name). Yes, some adopted children have seen and experiences things beyond their years; but not all. Some/a lot maybe actually act younger than their birth age.

I think your experiences of a friend's child years ago is just that, a one-off.

As Ted and others have excellently described the practical and emotional help they have received I don't go there.

Adoption, like parenting, is the long haul. My son has been with me (and dh) almost 5 years. In the early days I had about two friends who could look after him in the very rare situations where I needed it.

Now, he is able to stay with any of my good friends as long as he has his tablet device and a snack box. You may not need to/be asked to look after the child any time soon but one day that may be so helpful, so keep the options open.

You are privileged to be asked but get clarification on what is needed and only agree to what you feel comfortable doing.

Flowers (and well done for being a good friend)

sassygromit · 03/01/2019 21:11

I had similar feelings about a child at my dc's first school, and the child in question was not adopted. So basically I think that this scenario could arise anywhere anytime and the adoption is not necessarily relevant. In my situation, I felt for the other child and spoke to the school about the sort of things being said but in the end moved my dc to another school. My dc are reasonably robust but what was being said went well beyond what I wanted them to think about at their age, and that was that. Not all adopted children will necessarily have been through the same things as the child you know, or will worry you in the same way, or have behaviours which are beyond you.

I think being honest to your family member is the best thing, say that yes you would like to be a support, and that it would be good to know what she has in mind, but that you can't guarantee that things will pan out the way you both want. If it becomes necessary you will need to put your dc first whether that means only providing support when they aren't around or other. But it may well not come to that.

I would also say find out a bit about developmental trauma as it may well be relevant and may give you a different perspective - I love this video for example:

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