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Thinking of adopting. Advice wanted

14 replies

HoneyPie93 · 13/04/2020 17:44

Hi all.

I have just binged this forum for a few days reading all of your advice. I think my husband and I would like to adopt, we are relocating to be close to our support network (family, we are really close to our family and we cannot wait!). No one in my family has adopted so it’s very new to us.

Just a bit about us, im 26 and just finishing off my PhD. I’m starting a job in September which is permanent. My husband is 30 and works in healthcare, we’ve been together for 8 years and married for 2. We have no children of our own and we would be able to provide a stable home for a child / children. We are going to go to an adoption evening but have a few questions.

We’re very open to ages, how did you come to the decision on what age group to go with? We are also open to sibling adoptions.

How did you decide to adopt? We are interested in concurrent planning / fta because I have a lot of experience pre PhD with young mothers and addicted babies so this route interests us, im just not sure it’s available in our new area.

How can we best prepare to see if adoption is for us? As far as we are aware we don’t have fertility issues, we’re considering adoption as a first choice.

How long are you excepted to have off work?

Thank you and happy to answer any further questions people have.

OP posts:
Hotwaterbottlelove · 13/04/2020 19:47

I'm at the same stage as you, so can't be a huge amount of help but the best advice I was given was to start reading as much as I could about adoption and the various challenges such children face.

There is a fantastic thread that lists books to read. I'll find it for you. I have just finished 'The boy who was raised as a dog' It was incredibly useful. Another I've started is something like 'So you want to Adopt?'

I believe at least one parent is expected to take a year out.

I'm sure other people will be along with more and better information soon. I can be quite on here but everyone is very open and helpful.

EightWellies · 13/04/2020 19:59

Adoption was our first choice too, but it still took bloody ages. It just felt right for us.

Your other questions...although my DW took a year off each time we adopted, that meant that by the second time around we were both at home for the vast bulk of the time. DD1's needs have turned out to be such that, 6 years on, I only work very part-time termtime. She needs after school and the holidays to rest and unwind.

I'm not saying that it's not possible to both work in full-on jobs with an adopted child, but I've found it to be rare. You also can't predict that, even when they first come home.

On ages, our range was 0-3 first time round and a minimum of 3 years younger than DD1 the second time. DW was keener on a younger child than I was, which I came to see was perfectly valid. There's no real right and wrong in determining your adoption criteria. You have to be open and honest, with a big pinch of realism thrown in.

I can't answer about FTA I'm afraid. I couldn't have handled the uncertainty. There are others on here who have though.

All the best.

Ted27 · 13/04/2020 20:21

hello A lot of the answers to your questions depend on the personal circumstances of who you ask
A lot of my decisions were driven by being single, I adopted because I wanted to be a mum - and got to my 40s, single and didnt really want to pursue other options for pregnancy. Age group, well I'm not that fussed about babies themselves, I've done nappies and teething with god children, quite happy to by pass that myself. School age also better for me in terms of maintaining a job, and child care costs are a killer. An older child also fitted my social circle as my friends were all past babies.
A minority of people do adopt as a first choice, but most do adopt because of fertility issues. We are all quizzed about motivation to adopt so expect Social workers to be interested in why adoption is your first choice, particularly as you are quite young in adoption terms.
If you do see birth children in your future, its probably better to do that first.
Most Social workers expect one of you to take a year adoption leave. You should both check out your employers' adoption leave policies and also look at how family friendly they are. You have to provide employers references so you need to think carefully about how you tell a new employer your plans - or think about when is the best time to start your application.
Deciding whether adoption is for you - Research attachment, developmental trauma, developmental delay, ASD, ADHD, FAS, PTSD. Are you prepared to deal with a child with additional needs, and all that entails - impact on your careers and finances for a start. I am 8 years along and still work part time, although I have recently increased my hours.
You may have to fight to get assessments, diagnosis, EHC plans, you often have to be 'that' parent.
Many people don't 'get' adoption, they may judge your children and their behaviour, you might lose friends, your family may not approve, they may not understand why you have to parent your child differently - are you prepared to tell your mum, dad and great auntie Nellie to butt out?

Adoption is a risk, a leap of faith. It can be a wonderful thing, it is also challenging and can push you to your limits. For me, no regrets.

HoneyPie93 · 13/04/2020 20:45

@Hotwaterbottlelove that’s very helpful, I’ll definitely get on with the book recommendations. Thanks :)

@EightWellies that is very useful. My job is very flexible with changing hours up and down so I hope if I did need more time / part time then that would be fine. How old were yours when you adopted? And what would you say the biggest challenges for adopting are from your experience?

@Ted27 I’m also not massively fussed on children. A few of our friends have toddlers. I’ve never actually seen myself having my own children, and I don’t have a huge desire to give birth to a child so that’s one of the reasons for adoption. I would like a family but it doesn’t have to be biologically my child. Our drive for adoption is that we will have a comfortable life and we really think it would be nice to give a child a chance who might not have had a great start. I’ve worked a lot with children in the care system of lots of ages so I have a small understanding, of course, this is nothing in terms of dealing with it on a daily basis so I’ll definitely read more into the issues. I’m quite happy being that parent because I guess that’s some of the responsibility you take on as an adoptive mother. What would you say is your hardest part of adopting?

Thank you all for your advice, I hope my replies with what you see as difficult isn’t intrusive, I just would like some personal insight. I’ve got friends who have adopted and it seems to have gone really well but reading lots of these threads make me realise I’m probably getting a rose tinted version (and maybe made me realise I need to check in more with them!)

OP posts:
ifchocolatewerecelery · 13/04/2020 21:47

I’ve got friends who have adopted and it seems to have gone really well but reading lots of these threads make me realise I’m probably getting a rose tinted version (and maybe made me realise I need to check in more with them!)

The thing is that generally people only post on forums when things aren't going well and even reassuring responders say they've experienced something similar that they've got through. I belong to 4 different Facebook groups that support parents of of children with attachment and trauma issues and only one actively encourages members to post about good things on a regular basis. Even then, they don't have to be directly connected to your child.

I regularly see posts from 4 adopters who were on my course and the updates they share on Facebook are the 'making precious memories' ones in which everything looks idyllic. Only one posts things that slightly more ambiguous on their personal feed and they blog anonymously about the true challenges they face.

Ted27 · 13/04/2020 21:56

Ok , I'm going to be a bit challenging now, you don't have to answer here if you don't want to, its more to get you thinking
when you say you aren't massively fussed on children do you mean babies or children in general? I completely undertand not having a great desire to give birth, I didn't, but I did very much want to be a mum, I just prefer them a bit older, but I wasn't really fussed how I got there.
Being a parent can be incredibly boring ( soft play - kill me now please), noisy, dirty, snotty, mind numbing ( thank god the Peppa Pig days are over) and involve a lot of drudgery and hanging around while your child goes swimming, dancing, plays in the sandpit or whatever. You do need to like children.
You mention a comfortable life and wanting to share that - but what does that mean? A nice house? - I currently have three doors propped up against walls - my son is prone to excess slamming. Children have a tendency to trash your house anyway, but a child in a trauma induced rage can cause a lot of damage. My son, who is a dreamboat compared to a lot of adopted children I know, has still caused several thousands of pounds worth of damage to the house and furniture.
You are doing a PhD so I guess you are quite academic - what if your child isnt? What if they struggle at school, don't want to go to university or don't have the academic abilty to do so ? What if your child's needs mean that you have to give up work so your lifestyle might not be so comfortable?
Doing well in adoption world is open to interpretation. My son is 15, his GCSE year, he will do OK, well enough to get to college. He still can't tie a shoelace, use a knife and fork properly or use a tin opener, needs help with personal hygiene. He makes a great cup of tea but can't chop a vegetable to save his life which limits his cooking. He has autism so struggles a lot with everyday things. When an adopter says things are going well, they probably arent fibbing, but maybe glossing over the enormous amount of support they have to put in to enable their child to do well. Achievement for the adopted child may look very different.

I never really minded the drudgery aspect of parenting. I'm not too houseproud or into cooking so can live with the mess and dishing up endless fish fingers. I wear a lotof linen so get away with a crumpled look. For me the biggest challenge has been supporting my son's emotional needs, particularly through two years of gut wrenching therapy, And the pressure of making the right decisions for him, oh the agonies of looking for the right school. I gave up a job I loved to adopt. The job I have now gives me what I need but I wouldnt choose to do it, there have been times when I resented him because of my work situation.
But I have an amazing young man for a son and I am incredibly proud of everything he has achieved. He is worth all the sacrifices.

HoneyPie93 · 13/04/2020 22:10

@Ted27 happy to be challenged, I appreciate that you all have way more experience so thanks for getting back to me.

With the not fussed about having children I meant the whole going through the pregnancy thing myself and giving birth. I never saw myself doing that bit but I’ve always wanted a child or children. I was a nanny for a year so the day to day looking after a child I get it can be Very challenging, but again, this was a regular child born into a well off family. So I imagine it’ll be very different adopting. I really like the idea of being a mum, I just never saw myself with a very small baby.

By comfortable life I mean my husband and I both have stable jobs and lots of love to give so rather than having a child ourselves we’ve been keen on the idea of adopting a child. I guess I’m quite academic but I’m the first in my family to do a PhD. As long as the child is happy and healthy what they do is fine by me, and I understand that they won’t have the same milestones as other children. I honestly hadn’t thought about the possibility of needing to give up work. That’s something we would have to consider. Is it naive that it hadn’t crossed my mind? I gusss that’s why I’m asking now.

We had considered the need for therapy which I can’t even imagine how difficult that is for a child. How you talk about your son is lovely, and I guess I would like the chance to do the same. Did you know your son was autistic when you were matched? (Sorry if that’s too personal), we definitely need to learn much more about supporting a child with difficulties.

You raise some really interesting things to think about, I’ll definitely chat thee through with my husband

OP posts:
HoneyPie93 · 13/04/2020 22:14

@ifchocolatewerecelery thanks for replying, I’m sure there are lots of difficulties, but I guess it’s also really rewarding? Is there any resources you think would be helpful for me to read whilst making a decision? we are really interested in adoption but we want to make sure we will be prepared because the last thing I want to do is hinder a child’s progress

OP posts:
Ted27 · 13/04/2020 22:44

There is never a silly or naive question to ask!

I think work and what it looks like is something you need to think about. One or both of you could go part time, one of you may need to give up work, it could be your husband, you might both be able to carry on full time but maybe have to forget about promotions.
Impact on work - availabilty for appointments, assessments, therapy, what if the child doesn't get on with childcare, after school clubs, how will you cover school holidays, snow days and teacher traiing days. I seemed to spend an awful lot of time collecting information and filling in forms.
Yes I knew he had autism, he was nearly 8 when he came home so issues reasonsbly well known. Thats probably the biggest gamble with going for a young baby, lots of unknowns.
I think you might need to think more about how you articulate to a Social worker why you don't want to have birth children, other than just not being fussed about going through pregnancy. I was pushed quite hard on this, even as a single lacking the vital ingredient for babymaking. Again no need to justify or explain that here, its a personal decision but SWs will be interested, particularly as its a joint decision, does your husband feel the same?

EightWellies · 14/04/2020 07:31

DD1 was 1yr and DD2 was 11 months.

One of the hardest challenges is, as has been said up thread, finding that other people just don't get it, family as well as professionals. We now aren't able to go and stay at my mum's, because they can't tolerate DD1's meltdowns and we won't tolerate the way my stepdad is towards DD1. That's heartbreaking for me, but I have to put my kids first.

The bit about being 'that parent'. In my professional life I work in child mental health, but when you see teachers or CAMHS or whoever as a mum, you'll find your opinion counts for very little. You'll be patronised, eye-rolled at and fobbed off. That can be pretty hard to swallow, but you just need to keep going.

It can be heartbreaking. We're at the point with DD2, who is 3, where we can see stuff emerging that isn't developmentally typical. That gradual diversion from 'normal' can be hard. That's an element of adopting young children.

My children are wonderful and we absolutely made the right decision, but it is hard going at times. I'd again agree with others that, possibly except for one or two of my closest friends, people around me have no idea of that.

121Sarah121 · 14/04/2020 08:36

I come from a different position. I was mid 20s when I gave birth to my daughter and late 30s when my adopted son came home age 3 years. (There is just less than 2 years between them). I couldn’t have a second child so we adopted.

My children in some ways are very different and in some ways just the same. My son has suffered a lot of trauma (we weren’t aware of the extent of this when we adopted) and his behaviour can be incredibly challenging at times. My nice tidy house is no longer nice or tidy.

I took a year adoption leave which was challenging and isolating. Although I have a lot of friends most of which with children, a lot of people didn’t understand his needs and dismissed these as “normal” when I was aware they were far from normal.

In terms of work, I have returned part time. My son can’t be put into after school clubs or child minders as it would be too difficult for him. This means that for me, any promotion or career is not possible. He don’t see that changing until he is an adult. He comes first.

Adoption was definitely the right thing for my family. I didn’t want an only child and was the only way to extend my family. We all adore him especially my daughter. However it has been more challenging than I could have imagined. No books tell you about the day to day challenges nor prepare you for the toll that can have. However, my trauma is insignificant to his and we will work through it together. I’m aware it will take years but I do hope in time, we will be a happy little family of 4.

I’m not sure if this helps but it’s my experience. I suppose my advice being do as much of the things you want to do you can’t do with children. Holidays, experiences, studying, work because you might need to put these on the back burner and you don’t want to live with regrets. When you become an adoptive parent, you can read the books and you’ll learn as you go.

I hope this helps and feel free to ask any questions

RoomForMore · 14/04/2020 09:18

When we went to an adoption evening run by our LA, they asked us if we wanted BC too. We said yes, probably. They told us to have BC first and then come back. We had 2 BC and what they hadn't told us initially is that the youngest BC would have to be 4 years old before we could start the process! He was 1 when we re-approached the LA, and were told this.

It ended up that we went through a different LA when he was nearly 2.

When we were in the process, they asked us what contraception we used and what would happen if we fell pregnant during the process. They (understandably) don't want to waste time and money getting you through the process for you to fall pregnant etc.

Adoption was 100% right for us and something me and DH had always wanted to do before we even got together.

The hard bits for us were waiting for our LO to get her placement order (we waited 8 months). And the fact that no one in our family / friendship group had adopted. They were very supportive of us, but just didnt understand the process and the waiting and anxiety. So although we're surrounded by friends and family, we felt incredibly lonely. Mumsnet was a great support during those times Smile

poppet31 · 14/04/2020 10:37

I'm 7 months in to placement with my son and I'm still at the point where I'm not sure I could recommend adoption. We have had a really difficult time, both throughout the process and since placement. I do love my son and life is starting to get a little easier but it has been harder than I've ever imagined and I think it will be a while before I feel like I'm in a place where it feels the pain has been 'worth it.' I do know people who have had a much more positive experience than us but they are in the minority. I once read that parenting an adopted child was 'parenting plus' and I think this is completely true.

ModelCitizen · 27/04/2020 18:50

I would like to add a different story to provide a different perspective. We adopted a 3 year old, already having an older birth child. Our adopted child is a delight - smart, funny, brave, sociable and very loving. He is also strong willed, unwilling to take no for an answer and is always getting a telling off for hitting. The hard work has been in settling in a child grief stricken at the loss of his FC and having him adjust to new boundaries and routines. You need to deal with rejection, anger and tears in a way that takes account of a little boy adrift in the world, but does not set up trouble for the future. Parenting a 3/4 year old at the best of times is hard work and I refuse to always look at it through the prism of ' adopted child. ' A year in our child is a happy, well adjusted human being incredibly excited at the thought of starting school. It is not always going to be plain sailing because adoption brings unique challenges, but an important thing is to be very aware of your own character and the implications of that for the type of child that you will find easier to parent. I would not make half as good a job at parenting a nervous, anxious child.

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