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Prospective adopters with birth children already

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HopeH May 8, 2019 16:20


My husband and I are attending our first adoption information meeting soon and were hoping to find out a little more before we attend. Unfortunately I cannot find anybody who has birth children of their own and then went on to adopt. Has anybody been in the same position?

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Zora May 8, 2019 19:45

Wenn have. Our birth kids are 10 and 19 years older than our AD. Tread very carefully is all I can say. Our oldest is reluctant to visit for any length of time as he cannot cope with the stress he is exposed to here and our second one, now 17, has lost their last few years of childhood due to us adopting as our AD turned out to have massive ongoing issues. 17-year-old has severe mental health issues/self harm directly linked to our adopted child's needs and aggressive and controlling behaviour.

Don't expect much help once the adoption order has gone through. There are no funds.

I am sorry to be so blunt, but as much as I love our youngest daughter, she has unleashed so much trauma and destruction on us as a family - and she is only seven. I have no idea what the future will hold for us.

Please read the archived boards, there are loads of us. The advice is always to aim for as big an age gap as possible. There is a reason for that. Maybe start as a foster carer, so you can get an idea whether a long term commitment is your best interest as a family.

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HopeH May 9, 2019 15:49

Hi Zora, Thank you for honest response, I really appreciate it. We're hoping to gather as much information as we possibly can before the meeting. Is there any kind of ongoing support, post adoption in the form of family therapy etc? I'm sorry to hear about the trauma you and your family have been through.

We've been reading and participating in questions on first4adoption and we've found it really useful. We want to head in to this with our eyes wide open obviously but there doesn't seem much info for prospective adopters already with birth children.

I'll read the archived boards, thank you so much for your advice.

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Donatella May 9, 2019 16:07

I don’t have a birth child - I have three adopted children instead, the younger two both have additional needs. I did everything wrong - less than 5 years between all three which means that I now have three teenagers, two of whom are currently mid exams!

You dont say how old your child is but don’t underestimate the impact that a traumatised child will have on everyone in the family. And it’s not just about trauma. Most, of not all, children in the care system will have come from a history of chaos : drugs, alcohol, domestic violence, mental health issues etc. A lot will have additional needs of one type or another. It’s unlikely to be like parenting a securely attached birth child with no presenting issues. And yes, I get that there are no guarantees with a birth child but you’ll know the genetic history, you workday have taken care of yourself and the baby while pregnant etc.

Perceived wisdom is to allow a large age gap .... and think ahead to the difficult teenage years!

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HopeH May 9, 2019 16:19

Thank you Camelia, Our children are 6 and 8. I'm currently reading though the archives, made notes of books to buy and we'll continue to gather our information via these forums too.

I'm so glad there are people ready to offer their experiences and advice, I know we'll find these forums really helpful.

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Zora May 9, 2019 17:09

HopeH, we went into this with our eyes open, doing research, evaluating every eventuality, or so we thought. The biggest mistake, if you want to call it that, was to assume that with the right support we would be able to turn things around. Our daughter was presented to us as easy to place - which does not equate to easy to parent - as we now know.

Even if you do manage to access support, we had 2 years of intensive psychotherapy 3 times a week, family therapy, play therapy, NVR training, therapist.

Has it made a difference? Yes, there are fewer incidents than two years into placement. But they still happen far too often and when they do happen there is no difference in severity. In fact, due to her getting older and bigger they are more dangerous then ever. We have massive child on parent violence issues. I have been attacked with a knife, I have had my head kicked resulting in concussion. We are not an unusual family. Sadly this happens all to often. Google the Selvyn report.

When we pointed out to SS that we were living with domestic violence and how our birth child was affected by it, they did an assessment and then nothing because they concluded AD was not in danger from us.

I suppose we can count ourselves lucky that they did not decide to take our birth child into care as a child in need due to domestic violence at home. - It has happened often enough, I know of parents where the adoptive child was left with them but their birth kids were removed. Bonkers and shocking but true.

Not everything can be fixed with the right therapy. Brain damage due to alcohol and drugs is permanent. If you are prepared to parent a child who may not be able to be helped as such then do go ahead.

Sorry, I cannot tell you, you'll be ok. It is a massive gamble. I know other people who are ok, but just as many, who are on the brink of a nervous breakdown at all times.

Support is so vital. If you can get this right, you may be ok. But you will not know where your support will come from until years into placement. You will lose some people and gain others.

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Jingle bells May 9, 2019 21:15

Hi hopeh

i am a prospective adopter and I have a wealth of knowledge and understanding of looked after children as I was a foster care worker for 15 years. Having looked after 60 or so children in this time period. i have birth children , So I think I am qualified to answer your question.

My birth children, are now in there 20's. I am very proud of them and how they have turned out. My children are all secure in employment and are in solid permanent relationships. My birth children have been brought up in a fostering household and at times I have unintentionally put them at risk.

I do not need to adopt to make my family complete, or to become a parent, I want to adopt because of my knowledge and understanding of looked after children and I still have so much to offer a child in order to get them to adulthood and beyond but i no longer wish to foster. Plus, i am FULLY aware of what I am letting myself in for. I Have a great support network, and my birth children will support me as I have already had the discussion with them that if I do adopt, thus them having another much younger sibling, then if something happens to me, would they potentially take on the child.

This is just my opinion and someone may well come along and advise otherwise but I am very much erring on the side of caution, when I read your children were 6 & 8, that immediately set off my alarm bells. So....

i presume that you have the most amazing , healthy, birth children that you love unconditionally and that life is good! No one has a chystal ball, But why would you potentially put this at risk?

can you bring another child into your family and you may not ever have the same strong feelings of love for them.

can you risk your birth children being traumatised by various behaviours displayed by a new child

can you risk your birth children being abused by another child? A bit dramatic, but it happens.

potentially what can happen is, you can "over compensate" with your birth children and that doesn't do them any favours in the long run.

I think you need to ask yourself what is your motive for adoption and is it worth upsetting your family unit.

And if you do decide that this is something you absolutely want to peruse, please do not go for a child that is close in years to your birth children.

in my opinion, you are blessed to have 2 amazing, I presume, healthy children, I would advise you to enjoy them for a few more years and then if adoption is still something your thinking about then look Into it.

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HopeH May 9, 2019 21:19

Thank you again for being so honest and open. Being at the first step i’m grateful to be able to gather every bit of knowledge and information about family’s personal experiences that we possibly can. That way we’re armed with some possible circumstances to help us to consider what we’re signing up to.

We are really lucky to have a great support network around us. We understand it’s a long road.

There will be a lot of time spent thinking, considering, researching etc. before we make a decision. I really do appreciate you taking the time to share your personal experiences with me.

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Donatella May 9, 2019 21:37

Wish I could like your post Mojo! Lacking a like button though ?

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Daffodil May 9, 2019 21:46

A ‘like’ button is on Link Maker’s to-do list! ?

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moo May 9, 2019 22:52

Don't you mean AUK happyeater? ? ..?

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Daffodil May 9, 2019 22:58

Well, it's Link Maker doing the technical bit, so it always ends up on our list even if it starts on someone else's ?

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peartree May 10, 2019 03:06

Hello. I have 2 adopted now young adults Partridge and Blossom (aged 24 & 21). We then had a birth child and baby Pip is now 11 ! Our AC came to us aged 6 & 4. They had had a lot of trauma but their main issues relate to pre birth and under 2yrs trauma.

Thinking from your stand point I would not even consider adoption until your bc are much much older. It sounds strange but adopted children from the U.K. system come with many complex things going on and being close in age to your bc is a big problem. Your bc will need a clear space between them and any adopted child. You’ll need that too tbh

Further, wHen you do adopt, try and adopt one child at a time. Sibling groups are a very difficult thing and often have trauma bonds.

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windfalls May 10, 2019 13:24

Hi Hope,

I am in the Mojo camp. I have three children - two birth sons and one adopted daughter. My ad is the middle child. If i knew then what i know now then i would never have adopted. I have posted about my situation many times before under the username Waterfalls and if you do a search of the archives you will see a wealth of information. But briefly we brought our ad home aged 13 months - she was removed at birth as her bm was a drug addict and my ad only had one very good foster carer. My ad has a range of conditions/issues - adhd, odd, dyslexia,dyspraxia and asd. parenting her is not easy (she is now 12) in fact it is really challenging and puts a huge amount of stress on the family as a whole but especially my bs's. As she is getting older it is getting worse eg my ad had a massive meltdown last night at bedtime (nothing unusual there) and she called me a f***ing b****! Not exactly how i ever dreamed that i would be spoken to by my child. The types of behaviour we deal with would make your toes curl. my younges bs is 8 years old and he is a registered carer because of what he has to put up with and receives help from that organisation. If i were you then i wouldn't do it - enjoy your birth children and let them have a normal and happy childhood.

best wishesxx

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Donatella May 10, 2019 13:42

Windfalls, just reading your post and there’s a diagnosis missing! I wonder whether you’ve considered - or whether profs have considered - that your daughter is PDA rather than ODD? They have similarities but the underlying cause with PDA is all about anxiety - behaviours are anxiety driven and the result of perceived demands. In effect they’re simply requests but can be misinterpreted as overwhelming demands. PDA is a subgroup of autism - my daughter is dx ASD but we parent as her as PDA. Apologise if you already know this but I do know of instances where children were misdiagnosed.

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windfalls May 10, 2019 20:27

Hi Camelia,

Yes PDA has been mentioned but only in passing as a possibility. I did consider PDA but the adhd meds make a huge difference to it during the day. So if i ask her to do something during the day she almost always does it and straight away without any argument. However, once the meds wear off, or before taken in the morning then she will refuse even the smallest of requests - even to her own detriment and will constantly argue with me. I always assumed that if it was PDA then she would be like that all the time. She is highly anxious though - profs picked up on this and one even mentioned FASD as a possibility - but i just don't think i could face another dx!!! I just wish that i had the child that i do during the day on the meds all the time - she is so much more compliant and can actually be nice to be around - even with the ASD and the associated behaviours and meltdowns.- but it is like living with jekell and hyde . Just started using intuniv along with elvanse and so far it doesn't seem to have made much of a difference to her behaviour in the morning and evening. Maybe i just may have to accept that this is the best it will every get.

thanks so much for the thought though - it really is much appreciated. xxx

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Safia May 11, 2019 12:26

I just wanted to add that it’s not necessarily better when your children are teenagers. I adopted 2 as toddlers - separately though very close together as they were siblings - when my birth daughters were 14 and 20 - the 20yr old was fine as the ACs regarded her as another adult and she wasn’t living in the same house for all that long afterwards anyway. The younger one they could see as a child - another rival - and it was very hard for her and hard to build a relationship too with the constant rejection. She really missed out at a time when it would have been nice for us to have time together - I only visited her at uni twice as it was so hard to organise and never visited her when she was living overseas. I think she really feels the loss - even now I think she feels I should be able to visit her more often (she is at home with a young toddler of her own) They were both very positive and supportive about us adopting - and have gained a lot as well as losses - but it has by no means been easy.

I think someone suggested examining why you’d like to adopt - not in a superficial way - but I suggest you have some counselling to help you look into this a bit more deeply. That’s not to say the decision is wrong but helping you understand the origins of the wish to adopt more fully may help you decide. You can do this at the same time as looking into adoption and researching the sort of challenges children may have and if you do go ahead it will really be seen as a positive by SWs

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May 15, 2019 23:10

Hello, and yes, I have two birth sons who were 9 and 6 when we adopted the first time (AD then aged 15 months) and 17 and 14 when we adopted the second time (AD aged 2 1/2). It hasn't been easy. It is often xxx awful. But sometimes we see glimmers of hope and change, and this keeps us going. Really really really recommend you have as big an age gap as possible. My oldest at 9 coped very well and has always been a blessing to his sisters, but personality plays a part in that as well as age gap. My younger son (5 year age gap) has really struggled, and has had a toxic relationship with our older daughter for several years now. He is much better with our younger daughter, and finally finally, at the grand age of 20, seems to be making tiny steps forward with Twirl. His personality is much more withdrawn and anxious generally, and this has not helped. His needs were pushed to one side far too many times because of the overwhelming needs of his sister. Read the archived boards, there is lots on there

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Tictoc2 May 19, 2019 15:41


I have a different experiemce which is probably why I am not often on this forum. I have a BS and then adopted 3 in fairly close succession. The age difference between my oldest and youngest is 6 years. My oldest adopted child has been with us for 6 years now. We adopted all of ours quite young so whilst we didn’t get the newborn or baby stage when they came they did present as younger than their actual ages so they felt like babies. I think this was important for us as they still had time to improve their experiences in those vital first 2 years.

adopted children are definetly more demanding, needy, draining than birth children (generally as I can’t speak for all) because their early experience has shaped them. There is a constant need for re assurance and to be told and shown you love them and they are safe. I think I must mention daily that they are with us forever. However our experience has been completely positive and there has never been a day we have regretted our decision to adopt, I also have a friend who adopted about 12/13 years ago. She adopted 2 young boys and then fell pregnant so also has a birth child - her children are teenagers now and again it’s been a positive experience with just the normal teenage issues.

clearly not everyone is so lucky and with adoption you just don’t know what damage has been done before you come into their life or how genetics will play into their lives. I go completely against the advice you have received above and feel that having a small age gap has been a positive for us and our adopted children really did learn a lot about loving and trusting us from observing our birth child.

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Serrakunda27 May 19, 2019 23:51

I think its always helpful to have a different perspective Tictoc2. I am often out of step here as I adopted an older child, nearly 8 on arrival, whereas most posters would probably tell you to run a mile from an 8 year old. Its worked out well for us. I think people need to hear a range of experiences, they can make their own minds up.

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