I am a single parent with AS who has been home 4 years. My AS has cerebral palsy and associated needs, he is a wheelchair user. We manage his needs as best we can and seem to have quite a good family relationship together. So my question really is that I have been thinking about the possibility of extending our family and going into adoption for the second time maybe next year, am I mad? I think we cope quite well with all his needs. Also I home educate my AS because he struggles with noise and sensory processing, he really didn't enjoy pre-school so I felt home ed was best for us at the time. So I guess from the outside our lives will look quite complicated already but I think we have it under control. But just thought I would ask for feed back about how others may perceive our situation and whether I would be asking for trouble if I pursued adoption a second time.
Second child as a single parent?
Well I don't think you are mad (any more than any other adopter!) but I do think you need to be very careful. I do know several single adopters with more than one child and its tough,a few are really on their knees. Things I would be thinking about
* with such a high needs child, particularly one with physical needs, what really is your capacity to care for another child
* how do you think your existing child would cope with a rival for your time and attention
*what limitations would your son's conditions place on another child's day to day life and opportunities - are they reasonable and fair to the second child
* what if your son had a health crisis that required hospitalisation -what would happen to the other child
* finances, can you really afford it?
* whats your support network like - would a second child stretch it too much ?
* long term future - do you have a plan for what happens to your son when you are no longer able to care for him, either if you are too old or you can't manage him as an adult. What impact would this have for a second child
* your personal long term financial security
Finally, and something that has been really brought home to me in the last year or so. I've always been a very healthy person. I don't think I darkened the doors of my GP for over 10 years. Over the last two years I've had several fairly serious chest infections and bronchitis which have knocked me out for a month or so each time. Last August I became quite unwell and was eventually diagnosed with gallstones. I had my gall bladder removed last week so am currently at home recovering from surgery. I 'm lucky in that my son is nearly 15, he is relatively independent, gets his own breakfast, can get himself to school, can do his washing, If pushed he can put a pizza or a ready meal in the oven so he won't starve. And he keeps his poor old sick mum supplied with gallons of tea and tucks me in with a blanket on the sofa.
Now of course, he is not to blame for me having gallstones, but I've no doubt that the added stresses of being a single parent have not helped my overall health issues and probably leave me vulnerable to things I never was before. But I do recover. The single parents I mention as 'on their knees' are there because of the relentlessnes of their situation, they home educate, support drifted away, never get a minute to themselves, are running on empty. One person can only do and give so much.
As I said my son is now relatively independent, he is a fairly average teenager, he might do it a bit later than others, but he will get a job, leave home and be independent. And leave his poor old knackered mum to a fairly peaceful retirement pottering round on the allotment and becoming the neighbourhood mad cat lady. I will be 54 in a few weeks, how I would cope with a high needs child/teen/young adult as I hurtle towards my 60s? I really don't know.
We all have different capabilities, levels of resilience and tolerance to stress. But in your situation I think I would be looking well into the future and at the longer term implications of adopting a second child .
Good luck with your decision making
I agree with Serrakunda - think very carefully.
Personally, I now think that no adopter/s should take more children than there are adults - adoptees generally have a higher level of needs, which means their parents can easily burn out if they don't prioritise their own needs. This is especially true to for adopted teens (which I know probably seems a long way off now but will come round quickly). We (as a couple) took on three - with hindsight it was too much....
Sadly I have seen so many single adopters take one and it go well, so take a second and things go badly awry. Be careful. Maybe try to consider the worst case scenarios and how you would cope (What if one child harmed the other? What if you became ill? What if...?)
Good luck - whatever decision you make will be right for you x
Thank you both for your comments. I have a lot to think about. Currently I have very close family support so I would have options if there were emergencies or unplanned events, but I need to think long into the future as you say. I do have experience of caring for other young children alongside my son as I have worked as a childminder. I also do respite care for a young person with profound special needs one weekend a month in my home with my son here, and although it can be tiring we all have a good time together. I am not thinking of adopting a child with severe needs again though because I do think that would be too much for me on a permanent basis. Hopefully long term my son would have options to access supported work schemes and/or a supported college place. I am looking forward to seeing how his interests develop over his childhood and adolescence, currently he loves music and computing. I can already say I have a 6 year old teenager :). I will take on board your comments regarding the change of dynamics in the house and the additional strain parenting two children, who may or may not get on, would put on our family. So thank you again for you comments.
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