Adoption & energy levels

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My husband and I are thinking about adoption - we don't have any children at the moment, but we would like to give a home to a child that needs one.

However I have palindromic arthritis, a form of rheumatoid arthritis that involves 'attacks' out of nowhere which typically last for a few weeks. These attacks cause joint pain, which is manageable and I take medication, but the thing I am most worried about is the fatigue / lack of energy which comes with it.

The attacks are variable, I can go for months without one and then have two in the space of a few months. I am able to work (I've never had to have extended time off, just a couple of days here and there) and live a 'normal' life most of the time, but during a bad phase I need to rest more and I can sometimes get irritable if I don't get the rest I need. My employer, friends, family etc are very understanding and support me to manage my time so that I can keep myself well, but children are obviously a 24/7 commitment and an adopted child in particular is likely to have additional needs that will take even more time and energy.

I am worried about the impact this could have on an adopted child, particularly that they might feel rejected if I needed to have a nap (obviously I'd make sure my OH was there to look after the child). I have this fear that they might get the idea that I don't want to be around them, and this could cause issues if they have experienced neglect in the past. Maybe I am overthinking it, but I have done a lot of research and I've read that bonding is a huge issue for adoptive children.

I am also less patient when I am tired - like most people! - and I know that being an adoptive parent needs a lot of patience.

Obviously my husband will be there in the evenings and we would share parenting duties, but if we do adopt I would want to take at least six months off work to help the child settle in (and probably have a phased return after that), which would mean I would be on my own with the child for most of the day.

I know that there are adopters with disabilities who must deal with energy issues and chronic fatigue etc, so how do you manage? Am I cut out for adoption, or would I end up doing more harm than good?

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Several things spring to mind. Firstly - are there any things in particular that may provoke an attack? If so could you minimise these? I presume you have also looked at life style / dietary issues that could minimise the chances? (sorry I don't know anything about the condition so am just guessing that these things are possible)

I think the most important thing is your own awareness and pre-planning - so you are prepared and can remain as calm as possible. For example to have someone you can call on when / if you need help - this could be someone that you identify beforehand and who agrees to be available for this. If you do not have any family or friends who would be available then maybe a retired person / neighbour or someone through a volunteer agency or even a paid carer. It would need to be the same person though if possible. Secondly prepare your child by talking about the condition and how if affects you in advance - there may be special books for children - not necessarily specific to your condition but maybe more general that you could use - or you could make one yourself.

I think you seem to be thinking things through very carefully and preparing yourself thoroughly which is good. We can none of us avoid illness completely and there are many things which could have a negative effect on our children of which we may not be aware. I think the way you are approaching this indicates that you would make a very suitable adopter. There are many people on these boards who have various medical conditions and who have successfully adopted so they will no doubt be able to give more personal advice

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You might also want to give quite careful consideration to the age of the child you would be looking for.

In December I was quite ill with bronchitis and a chest infection, followed by the vomiting bug. I've never been so ill in my life. I could barely walk for a week. I was pretty much out of action for 2 weeks and I am single. My son ate a lot of ready meals and pizza. It helped tremendously that my school was school age, pack them off to school and then you can go back to bed.

So maybe a pre-schooler who needs lugging about wouldn't be such a great idea, but a school age child would be much more manageable and should be able to understand that mummy is a bit pooped out and needs a nap.

Also you shouldn't feel guilty about plonking a child in front of the TV and snoozing on the sofa. You are in the room with them, as far as they are aware you are watching as well.

You've obviously worked out the support you need to enable you to work, you just need to do the same with a child.

Good luck.

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Thank you both for your comments, you have made me feel much more positive about our adoption chances Smile

Safia, it's a rare condition and took me 7 years just to get a diagnosis so even the doctors don't know what triggers it. The attacks come out of nowhere, I can be fine for weeks and even took up running at one point, then have a bad patch. It's not fun but I am very lucky compared with others who struggle with much worse illnesses.

Serrakunda, we wouldn't be going for a baby or toddler; ideally nursery school or early primary school aged, so that's good to know. And I hope you have managed to recover - I had a vomiting bug early this year and it wiped me out for weeks, never felt so ill in my life!

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Personally if I were you, I'd probably look to adopt a primary school aged child, rather than nursery. There's a massive difference between a 3/4 year old and a 5/6/7 year old. I found 3/4 really exhausting! Also, you will have a better idea of their personalities and any diagnosis they may have. All 3 year olds can be hyperactive, but by 5/6 they should have started to settle and calm down. Mine have to a certain extent, but less so than your average child as both mine probably have ADHD (which generally isn't diagnosed until 7 or 6 if more extreme).

Good luck with it all xx

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