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Elthy May 4, 2019 13:06


Ive been thinking of adoption for quite some years on and off now but only recently started seriously looking into it. After reading every single post in the single adopters section and the difficult times section of the archive, I have come to ask myself why would I do it?

yes I want to be a mum, yes I want a small family unit (me + AC), yes I want to give a child a good life. Yes I have my things in order - support network (which I understand will likely disappear), finances/savings/no debt etc.

however, after reading all the difficulties I am stuck on the question as to whether I choose to live my life alone, or whether I risk serious future issues (what if child wrecks house, which I part rent so neighbours could complain about screaming tantrum child, what if I really would not be able to ever return to work even part time - I’d lose home, what if child is so disturbed that sooner or later it gets expelled, becomes a juvenile, is abused by (their) future partner, self harming or addictions - to name a few of the things people have experienced).

I really really want to adopt. Despite all I’ve read. Now I’m worried there’s something wrong with me for still wanting to do this - I’ve actually booked a therapist to discuss my motivations. If any of my friends would say that they would take a risk of happiness which could destroy everything they’ve build including their own health and sanity, I would ask them why? Why would you do it?

Ive wanted this for so long and now I find myself confused. EEK!

Edited 04/05/19
Serrakunda27 May 4, 2019 13:33

The short answer is because you want to be a mum. I'm a single adopter, one son, 7 years together.

Whilst I will absolutely not minimise the very difficult experiences of some adopters, remember that people tend to post when they are in need of support. There are adopters who don't experience too much difficulty, and there are many adopters like me who have a much more up and down experience. We have had our challenges, we have had therapy. We are not too great at the moment though it is partly just that he is a stroppy teenager. We had a lovely holiday in Wales over Easter, sandwhiched between two very hard weeks. We have a strong underlying relationship and we get through.

It doesnt matter whether you rent or own your house, the neighbours can still complain, my neighbour has three children, she regularly has her sister's three children ( they share childcare) Believe me 6 kids thundering round a terraced house far outdoes any volume level we can produce. Its ok, they are kids, they just make noise x 6 !

I do know people who have been unable to return to work, but most of us do at least part time. I work part time. My income is supplemented by a range of benefits.

Support networks change, you lose some people, you find others. I have far more friends than I did before. Yes he has trashed some furniture, but they werent exactly antiques. No I don't have any savingd, we dont have an extravagant lifestyle, but its comfortable.

Adoption is a risk, but it can also be very positive for everyone involved. I have an amazing young man for my son, He has achieved so much. He has good friends, lots of interests, he is a Scout. We have had many great adventures together, trips to Gambia, Morocco, Rhodes. We travel all over the UK by train. We have had summers where we visted as many cathedral cities as we could so we coukd climb the towers. Last year we 'collected' Welsh castles. We go to rugby mstches, athletics, theatre, cinema. My parents have a much loved grandson, and he adores them.

Its been very hard at times. But I don't regret it for a minute, even today when I have a huge list of things to do but can't budge from the sofa so I can make sure he does his homework.

Its nornal to have doubts, counselling could be a good thing to work through it. Good luck

Elthy May 4, 2019 13:52

Thank you Serrakunda - as always you are the voice of reason. I feel like I’ve gotten to know you and Simba by reading through the archive.

i have thought that you’ve been a great example. I think I got really down by reading the full archive of “difficult times” as there was no balance.

i am sure this won’t be my last post 😊

Jo May 4, 2019 19:03

There are no guarantee's with anything in life and that includes birth children 🙂 if you had read my sons profile you would have a little boy with lots of challenges when the reality is yes we have had challenges, we are currently seeking help from post adoption with some life story work, however what it didn't tell you was he is kind, lovely, funny little man he is. We have have made a good life together, we have our ups and downs but that's life in general isn't it 😌 xx

Elthy May 4, 2019 19:14

Thanks Jo, I would like your post if there was a like button. Yes it is life, although this one in a way is a choice with many unknowns I guess and that’s quite hard. I’m a worst-case scenario kind of thinker, which may come to serve me well in assessment eventually but it’s suddenly rather freaked me out! I guess that’s not a bad thing as at least I’m not going in with rose tinted delusions! What’s the saying? Prepare for the worst and hope for the best?

Jo May 4, 2019 22:01

Ahhh its Terrifying at times this journey just remember stick to your guns and be honest about what you think you can and cant deal with, I turned down a match before my son as I knew there was things there I couldn't cope with, it's really hard as you feel like you are rejecting them but the truth is it was the right decision for me but more importantly for him 🙂 I think as single adopters we need to be absolutely honest with ourselves (and with sw) what we can take on. Good luck x

windfalls May 5, 2019 15:06

Hi Elthy,

As mentioned above, there is never any guarantees even with birth children. However, the risk that birth children may have problems is lower than it is with adopted children and that is because of genetics. Also even though you may inform social workers of what you can and can't deal with, the reality is that you and they just may not know. So you may inform a social worker that you couldn't deal with eg ADHD and may find that that is exactly what you end up with. What you can be sure of is that you will have some sort of problems and life will at times be very tough, especially as you will be doing this on your own. Also to add into the mix is that the child may not have your temperament - you may be a laid back , quiet , chilled sort of person and you end up with a child which is the complete opposite. this too can make life very difficult.

People have children because they want to be parents. The vast majority of people who decide on adoption do so because they can't have biological children. I do not know your own personal situation, but if you want to cut down on the risk and want to be a mum, then look at the biological route first.

best wishes whatever you decide. xx

Yomi1977 May 5, 2019 23:52

Hi Elthy. It's a risk and it's unknown, you can't get away from that. I'm a single adopter and I remember having similar thoughts - but I kept coming back to thinking well if I don't do it life carries on much the same. I'm not hugely ambitious career wise, so it would be keeping on working with some nice holidays thrown in. I think I just gradually got to the stage where the unknown and the risk for the sake of having my own little family won out over the predictability of life without going for it.

I'm only 1.5 years in and my son is 2 so who knows what the future has in store for us, it could be all or any or none of those things you've listed. I can only report on my experiences so far, but at this point I can say that adopting my son is the best thing I've ever done. He is the most beautiful, hilarious, cheeky, clever, determined little boy you can imagine. It's hard work, really hard work sometimes, there are days I resent all my friends with kids who have partners just for having someone else to share it with. But we have so many lovely times together, I feel so proud of him when he learns things, all the usual parent feelings that I wouldn't have experienced if I hadn't gone for it. His first four word sentence was "Mummy's bed in morning?" which he asks every night as I put him to bed, because snuggling together in my bed in the morning is the thing he loves best. And the thing I love best too (well also peaceful evenings with netflix when he's in bed, let's be honest).

I would reiterate what someone said above - that people tend to post when they're having difficulties. I have now met quite a few adopters locally with children of different ages. A lot of them who are having a relatively straightforward time don't ever use the forums so you don't get to hear the experiences of those people. Can you see if you can get in touch with some local adopters and single adopters to chat to to hear maybe the more mundane experiences? I found that really useful when I was going through approval.

Good luck in thinking it all through.

Elthy May 6, 2019 08:09

Windfalls and Yomi, thank you very much for your responses - it’s really nice the time you’ve taken to respond to a total stranger. There is a lot of helpful thought-provoking content in your posts.

biological is not a route for me - sure, in my 20s I’d always assumed the marry-house-children route but Ive always had hormonal-fertility problems and having seen my sisters go through IVF when I was 16-19 I decided then I’d never do that (kudos to those who have). There is no partner and I’m happier that way. In addition I don’t think I need to bring another child into the world, even if I biologically could. I just really want to be a mum but through helping a little one who needs one. So much love to give...

im not career minded - I have however been focussed and I’ve made it to where I want to be with a well paid job in a family friendly place that could be done part time but doesn’t take any energy after I leave the office. It’s all been part of the plan for years. I now need to save and I have a plan for that - I am planning to have 6m salary in savings by the time of approval, and then whatever extra until matching. I also have some pets with relatively short life spans and given their current age they will likely to have passed in 2 years time.

Im thinking that whilst I’m saving I will give respite fostering a go, to gain a better idea of what I can and can’t do. It’s all well and good in theory...

Good points made re the forum having more troubled stories then the balance of those who are having a better time. Not entirely sure how to get in touch with local adopters but I will have a look!

Thank you again!

Jo May 6, 2019 08:46

Elthy there is a prospective single adopters group on fb, maybe you could try that? There is a single adopters group but that is for people who have adopted or are going being assessed so not sure if you can join that one just yet, but there will be people in the same position as you to chat too 🙂

Elthy May 6, 2019 09:13

Thanks Jo, I will have a look at the Facebook group!

Bop May 6, 2019 12:24

I am struck by the naivety in many of these posts....

Yes there are risks with birth children, but the risks with adopted children are far higher and its not just genetics. Genetics are one part and many birth parents do have genetic difficulties such as ADHD, ASD, LDs and MH issues and this affects their ability to parent and may be passed on to their children. Many adopted children also struggle with the effects of poor in utero care - it is now thought that up to 75% may be on the Foetal Alcohol spectrum with the resultant behavioural, learning and emotional issues for life - and stress and drugs at this stage impact on development too. All adoptees are likely to have attachment issues, even if removed at birth as that bond starts pre-birth and they will usually move from FC to an adopter as a young child. Unless a child is removed at birth, there are also likely to be the effects of poor care in the early years, compounding other issues with the impact of trauma and neglect....not having your needs met or witnessing domestic violence have long term consequences.

Just putting these children, who have a form of brain damage, with loving, competent parents does not undo the damage, though there will be some healing. A survey by Julie Selwyn about five years ago suggested a third of adoptions were doing OK, a third had some difficulties and a third were really struggling/in crisis - and I know that we were part of that research and at the time (about 6 years post adoption order) were classed as doing OK - but we hit crisis as our kids hit their teens - and I know of several other families that also applied to. The headline figure from her research was that just 3% of adoptions "disrupted" - but even that is misleading as it only counted disruptions where the chid is placed in the same LA...which we all know is rare....30% is probably a more realistic figure - though many adopters would dispute the term disruption as just because a child cannot continue to live in the family home, doesn't stop parents still being parents, even if from a distance.

I have to say if I had known what I now know I would not have adopted, but I don't regret that we did - though the journey has been far harder than we ever imagined and has taken us to some really tough places. It has cost us hugely - not just financially but also mentally and emotionally. Have we made a difference - its hard to tell and sadly for one child history does seem to be repeating itself.

I can't tell you whether you should or shouldn't go for it - but do have your eyes open and think how you would cope with the really tough stuff, especially as a single parent.

Edited 06/05/19
Elthy May 6, 2019 17:13

Thank you Bop. Reading the archive has really opened my eyes and made me question things - hence my prompt to post for the first time. And even with eyes open, I don’t think there is anything that may prepare me for what some/most(?) have experienced.

Leo May 6, 2019 22:00

I typed a long response but when I clicked Post, it got eaten.

I will try again if this one posts successfully.

Ford Prefect May 8, 2019 12:51

Why? is a question many of us ask ourselves after we have adopted, it's good to see you asking it beforehand but there is really only one person who can answer it and that is you. Your experience will be different from all of ours and all we can do is extrapolate generalisations from our own perspective.

One thing is for sure as Bop has highlighted, having adopted children will not be like having birth children. When we adopted, we had a model of what a normal family looked like with our relatives. In their case, Mum, Dad, Boy & Girl. Everything was going great with them and we modelled what we wanted our family to look like on our experience of them. We had cared for our Niece and Nephew a lot when they were young, they had several holidays with us so like many newbies, we though we had a fairly good idea of what to expect. We adopted a Boy and Girl with the same age difference as our Niece and Nephew just five years younger.

The upshot of this is we couldn't have more different children in almost every aspect of their being.

Now don't get me wrong. We love our children to bits and they are everything to us. However, our normality is entirely different from our family and friends. We have to manage FAS and ADHD with it's daily consequences. For the first two years, attachment disorder overshadowed everything we did and although we have adapted to cope with it, it will never go away. We realised we are not the same people who stated this journey more than five years ago.

I love having children and they do make me very happy but I always caution those entering adoption with the "Rosy" outlook to take a close look at the AUK forum and see how they feel afterwards. Once you become an adopter you suddenly find many of those you come into contact with daily are indeed adopters themselves. From my pool of adopter friends, I would estimate those who found relinquished babies and those with adoptions from abroad are the happiest. Those like ourselves with school age children from the care system are often having the most issues.

Adoption has changed our lives beyond recognition. Most adopted children require a significant amount of attention from their parent/s than birth children. There are things you won't be able to do, in many cases. It will affect your career, even just your ability to work. It will drain you emotionally and physically. It will make it harder for you to make any friends and you will loose some of your existing ones. It may cause tensions within your family and will affect your relationships.

What I found the hardest was being viewed somehow as a family wrecker by the public, someone who was a facilitator of the breakdown of the birth family. Within the echo chamber of adoption it is sometimes hard to listen to views from the other side. Some Birth Families and their supporters think of us as the enemy and I would also recommend googling "Forced Adoption" to find out how you will be viewed by a section of society.

I suppose where I'm going with this is to a point where had I asked, "Why"? more carefully as a newbie, I'd probably not have gone ahead.

Elthy May 8, 2019 13:14

Thank you Ford Prefect for sharing your thoughts and experience. More to think about. I’ll have a look at the public view - I had not thought about that at all...

Safia May 8, 2019 14:06

What everyone has said above is true - but at the end of the day if you want to parent and you seem really to have thought about it then this is the only way to go. It is best that you go in with your eyes wide open having researched as much as possible and being prepared (as far as you can) for hard times. However the preparation is really around helping you identify when you need help and what sort of help you may need - identifying what you think your child's difficulties are - because it is unlikely anyone else will be able to do this for you. Its not about reading up various issues and then avoiding children with these issues because this can't be done - mainly because most issues that later become obvious are unknown. But that is parenting at the end of the day - its about being there to meet your children's needs whatever they may be - and they may be profound and all encompassing - and are likely to vary throughout their childhood. Mine are now (technically) young adults but the job is far from over and I suspect lifelong (or a life sentence as I told my therapist!) But I don't regret it for a minute (though others may well do whose situations and struggles are different) - it has been a rewarding and enriching experience (though not financially you understand!) I don't think anyone can actually be adequately prepared to be honest - you just have to decide that its what you want and go for it - but arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible

John May 11, 2019 07:06

It is obviously a very difficult decision to make and only one you can make. However, as part of this process you do need to prepare yourself for the worst and my view is that you shouldn’t really adopt if you think there is a possibility that you won’t be able to cope with the difficulties that might arise with an adopted child. It does get quite challenging at times and you do need to be very confident and resilient as an adoptive parent (I do feel that some of the responses you got were ‘sugar-coating’ it a bit). Things like the house being wrecked, screaming and crying as part of tantrums (including waking you up and the neighbours in the middle of the night), are all to be expected with a child! Also, adopted children are extremely likely to be emotionally disturbed and deal with this in different ways as they grow up - so you need to be very confident that you will be able to support a child through all the difficulties, which in many cases are not possible to predict. In summary, if after all the research you’ve done you still have so many doubts, this might be a clear sign that despite your strong wish to adopt a child, you might not be ready for it. I was told by a social worker that 1 in every 4-5 children who get placed with their prospective adoptive families, are returned to care precisely because many people idealise adopting a child, and when faced with all the challenges, they give up. It may obviously be a combination of different factors that lead to these breakdowns, but the point is that adoption can be quite challenging.

Edited 11/05/19
Bop May 11, 2019 07:25

Pedro and Alex - Most of your post is spot on, but I would challenge you on the reasons for adoptive children returning to care....

" I was told by a social worker that 1 in every 4-5 children who get placed with their prospective adoptive families, are returned to care precisely because many people idealise the adoption and when faced with all the challenges, they give up."

Many adoptees do end up returning into the care system, usually in their teens, but this is not because the parents have given up - far from it. I know several parents in this situation and all still parent their child from a distance and most end up with a good relationship with their child once they get a bit older. Children return to care for many reasons - extreme child to parent violence, danger to other siblings, (false) allegations against the adoptive parents, danger to self from grooming/CSE (so need to be relocated/secure accommodation) - none of those are about idealised views and giving up...but a result of damage done before the child was even known to their parents....and ignorance in SW, education and health systems that cause further damage to adoptees, and then blame the adoptive parents, rather than supporting the families, when things get tough....

Edited 11/05/19
Elthy May 11, 2019 07:58

Still reading this thread with interest and thanking everyone for their time to respond. I think some doubt is good - not “doubt” per se but trying to be realistic and eyes open and making an informed decision is my case. Do I want to adopt, yes, but I know it’s not a walk in the part and I’m information gathering from real adopters rather than from websites which only say “can you give a loving home to a child in need” as I know it’s not that simple.

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