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Coram detailed information form

Laura55 March 2, 2022 18:48

Hi all,

We're just submitting this to Coram - so the -pre-application form to take us to stage 1. The form asks if we can consider children with complex needs and/or uncertainty in their background. My understanding is that all children placed for adoption experience this to varying degrees so no one should say no but in terms of the range and complexity of needs, this can differ. Would people advise at this stage being specifc about the kinds of needs we would consider? Advice from all the parents we've heard from so far is to be clear on what you woud consider but I equally don't want to rule us out at this early stage.

After this form there's a chat with a social worker to decide to proceed to stage 1.

Any advice would be appreciated.


Donatella March 2, 2022 19:20

In all honesty it’s a difficult one. My three are 20, 18 and 16 so we’re a long way in - 3 different adoptions. With the benefit of hindsight I’d say that it can be easier to parent children with known or suspected clinical/organic diagnoses than children who’ve experienced significant trauma. As an example, we spent far too long with middle child assuming his issues were ‘attachment’ related because that’s what we were being told. Actually he has ADHD and he’s also autistic. My youngest child - not his birth sibling - is also autistic. With autism there is at least some understanding and we’ve been fortunate in that on the whole (with the odd exception) they’ve been well supported in education. That’s not necessarily always so.

You're right when you say that one way or another any adopted child is likely to have some difficulties. The rates of FAS/D are high, for example. Social workers will look for an open mind and flexibility - when I filled in that form I specified no to autism thinking I could never cope with that. Not saying it’s been easy but I think we’ve had an easier road than some.

Ultimately you’re going to be in competition with other prospective adopters so the more open you can be at this stage the better. There’s nothing to say that if a child comes along you don’t feel you could parent, then it’s okay to say that. We did. It’s an individual thing. Some can cope with more - and different stuff - than others. Either way it’s quite the journey!

Not sure if that helps or hinders! Yes, be honest but don’t be too inflexible at this stage. There are so many other things to consider as well such as work commitments, family support, friends support … these things also often don’t pan out as you might hope!

chestnuttree March 3, 2022 13:44

I find these forms to be a bit of a red herring. Every adopted child has suffered trauma. However, in most cases you will only know the full extend of that trauma and their processing of it in the teenage years, so years down the line.

Plus, these questions make it out as if you could separate the issues. That you could, for instance, say "yes" to drug abuse, but "no" to in-utero alcohol exposure and "no" to sexual abuse. In fact, most women who use drugs are multi-drug users, take what is available and don't exactly keep a log. They often take drugs to self-medicate, but the underlying mental health conditions will only feature in the children's files if formally diagnosed. Birth parents are often highly traumatised themselves, so it is difficult for professionals to clearly diferentiate between challenges as a result of a formal MH diagnosis or as the effects of trauma - if birth parents have ever been assessed that is. So most of these seemingly neat categories overlap and almost conflate at some point.

All disabilities are on a spectrum and reaction to and processing of trauma is highly individual. So a child that might sound "difficult" on paper, might actually be fairly easy to parent, while another one with less ACEs might be very hard to parent.

I would exclude things you feel you could not cope with, but leave as much as possible open to discussion, so depending on the child and mix they present with.

Edited 03/03/2022
Laura55 March 4, 2022 16:37

Thanks both, super helpful. As you say most things don't fit into neat categories and nuance is hard on these types of forms. We'll definitely be as flexible and open as we can as we go through the process and learn more. Thanks so much - this forum is fab.

LondonDadsToBe2 March 7, 2022 14:04

FWIW, I don't think you need to stress too much about this in terms of further down the line when you're being matched. At Stage 2 you will talk A LOT with your SW about what you can and can't cope with and what complexities you are open to and not. Your SW may push you out of your comfort zone and ask you to consider your reasons for saying yes or no.

So whatever you put down now will not necessarily be what your end position is. It is your final position that will end up in your Prospective Adoptive Report that SWs will be reading when it comes to matching. So having one view now won't put you at a disadvantage when it comes to matching etc.

What it could do, if you are excessively restricted in the type of complexity you could consider, is give the agency pause to consider whether there is value in investing time and effort (and money) in assessing you. If you were indicating that you would only want to adopt a child under 2 with no health uncertainties or complications, no siblings, no BF contact, no exposure to in utero drugs or alcohol, no experience of trauma or neglect etc - an agency might well decide that you are so unlikely to be successfully matched that there's no point in assessing you. But I don't think you are being that restrictive, so it's fine, for now, to indicate what complexities you would be more comfortable with (for us, we were OK with BF contact, open to sibling groups) and which you would rule out (we didn't feel we could support a child with profound disabilities) - and for those you are unsure about, just say you're open to discussion.

All you need to do for now is persuade the agency that you're worth their time and effort in assessing because at some point you are likely to be successfully matched.

Safia March 7, 2022 14:59

We also only ruled out extremely physical disability and life limiting conditions - as so much else is unpredictable. Unpredictable both in whether a child is affected by a certain disability / condition and also the extent to which they are. Even a diagnosis doesn’t necessarily tell you that much as each person with it will vary so much. So I think it’s best to think of any absolute definite nos and then consider each child as an individual - with what information you will be given at the time (which is probably minimal) - and reading between the lines as best you can. It’s a leap of faith! And commitment to that individual


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