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Birth children considerations for match criteria

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Hi we are currently in stage 2 with panel date booked in January. We have a 3 year old birth child. We are likelÅ· to foster to adopt but also looking at adoption path too.


Our assessing social worker has set us to work on a number of things to research and discuss between ourselves to help in establishing what, I don't know the right term to use here, criteria/ situation/ background for a prospective match


Two of these things are FSA and a child born as a result of incest.


We have already said that due to minimising risk to our birth daughters wellbeing we do not feel we are able to deal with profound disability.


With regard to FSA we are coming to the conclusion that whilst we would feel able to deal with behavioural problems and learning difficulties associated with this condition, the risk of severe disability concerns us.


With regards incest, part of the question from the social worker Was about talking to the child about this as they get older, in age appropriate ways, which we feel we could do. But research on this shows a high probability of severe disability.


So this is a very long winded way of saying, I think our position is that our answer relates back to our position on profound disability. Therefore I think if we know that the birth parents are alcoholics or have a history of giving birth to children with FSA, we would say no. Equally we would be unable to take a child who was the result of incest.


As we are looking to adopt such a young child, I understand we would not know if conditions will become apparent later on, and if that happens we will handle it as we would if they became apparent in our birth child, but it seems if issues are known and likely then this is the best approach for us.


I know this is a very personal thing, and no one can advise whether we are right or wrong in this approach but I'd be interested in yours perspectives / experiences.


Would we be limiting ourselves to the point of not being likely to find a match? we would still be open to many many other backgrounds and the care and specialist parenting they would require.


Any input or opinions welcome.


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I think the reality is that it's unlikely to be as clear cut a situation as you describe. I'm assuming FSA is FAS or FASD? It's quite possible that a sw won't know that previous children have been diagnosed- it can take many years to get a diagnosis of any kind, by which type a sw is no longer in that child's life. Equally birth mothers don't always admit to drinking and unless it's documented then you're unlikely to be told. It's not as simple as bm being alcoholic unfortunately.


You'd also need to consider why they abuse alcohol, drugs etc. Why they invariably have a history of dysfunctional behaviour. Of chaos. Of domestic violence. It's not as simple as considering alcohol abuse in isolation. Why were they self medicating? What's underlying the chaotic lifestyle? Mental illness? ADHD? ASD? What about birth family psychiatric history - further back than birth mother/ fatter. What about genetics? Epigenics?


A child born of incest is likely to be a rarity - however again there are degrees aren't there? The child may not have been born as a result of incest however that doesn't mean it didn't go on?


TBH it's a risk and regardless of how carefully you pick and choose there really are no guarantees. The children in the system these days are complex. I was was at the AUK conference on Saturday where one of the speakers described today's adoptees as being amongst the most complex children there are! There are so many things in the mix.


You can say yes, no or maybe but saying no to most things will limit your choices but equally doesn't necessarily mean that a child placed with you won't have one of the conditions you said no to.


We said no to autism. Two of our easy to place babies have now been diagnosed with autism, amongst other things.


And before anyone accuses me of doom and gloom - I'm neither a doom monger nor am I gloomy. However this is the reality of modern day adoption. You just never know!!


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If you are looking to foster to adopt a very young child, you are unlikely to have a FASD diagnosis.


You might know the parents are alcoholics, and could rule out children on that basis, but many children on the spectrum the parents history is less well known - we were told that there were only heroin usage for ours (heroin is relatively safe in pregnancy) but in the last year or so it is becoming increasingly likely that they are on the spectrum, and they are teens now.


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Hi,

I will try not to say things other already have. You can limit your exposure to risks but with f2a in particular you just can't protect yourselves from those outcomes. We adopted our first and did f2a for an unrelated second child. Birth family had no history of drug or alcohol abuse, child born to term described as healthy with birth parents that were border line learning difficulty which may be genetic or environmental. No known mental health risk. Pretty much new born upon placement. Fast forward a year and our child has multiple complex needs that are all part of an undiagnosed rare genetic condition. My eldest had bm who drank heavily and risk of mental health but actually has less complex needs so far. You could take on a "healthy child" and eventually get an ask diagnosis, or mental health issues, or many other things that just weren't foreseen. For us it took a while to adjust to the new expectations we had for the future but we are all very happy.


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'shows a high probability of severe disability' It depends what you mean by severe disability and high probability. You are generally talking 25% coancestry in these cases. That would give a much higher than (the usually low) normal chance of child mortality, immune issues, heart problems etc but my understanding is that the majority of kids would be fine and there is a lot of variation in the severity of potential problems. Just because you say yes to this doesn't mean you would take a child with severe disability due to incest. You should also be aware that their children would be at risk of genetic defect as well.


FASD is real pot luck. There is evidence that a majority of birth parents abuse alcohol to some extent. Some babies are fine despite huge consumption, some have problems from relatively little alcohol in pregnancy. If you say a hard no to this you really are limiting your options.


Its worth emphasising that very many adopted children are happy and healthy, but (as the others say) you need to be aware that there are no guarantees, especially since you are likely to adopt a young child. I would encourage you to be cautious in your matching and think carefully about what you can handle and discuss it with your SW. You will probably need to wait a while and be quite active in your search, but that is no bad thing as your daughter is so young.


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We have a BC and adopted a 9 month old baby whose BM apparantly "never drinks during her pregnancies", none of whose siblings apparantly have Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS or FASD). This was according to her Social Worker. Wow we thought we were so lucky, as most birth mothers lead chaotic lives and where there's chaos there is often drug and alcohol misuse.


Our daughter is now 2.5 and almost certainly has FAS. She has the facial features but often FAS children do not. In hindsight we were naive and wanted to believe what SW were telling us because we wanted to say yes to this baby.


The reality of adoption is that nowadays most children are not relinquished, but removed from women who mostly do not want to lose their children and are not likely to admit to drinking during pregnancy. My AD's BM vehemently denied it because she loved and desperately wanted to keep her baby.


My point is it's very hard to know for sure with a baby/young child. Our AD was meeting developmental milestones and we met with medical advisor who gave us no reason to doubt SW's version of BM alcohol history. She was not a known drug addict or alcoholic, but that doesn't mean that she wasn't drinking throughout her pregnancy. In hindsight, the clues were all there in the background history of BM and her lifestyle.


Do more research and find out more about the spectrum of FASD. Our daughter is not profoundly disabled but is exhibiting attachment issues but perhaps FAS behaviours too, it's hard to tell as she's only little. But we have had independent people (interestingly one was our post adoption support worker from the same LA we adopted her from who recognised "strong FAS features") tell us that FAS is likely, enough for us to be granted money from the post adoption support fund for Theraplay.


With FAS as with many syndromes, there's a broad spectrum.


For us personally we felt that I couldn't cope with an autistic child as I needed to "get something back" and that was on our tick list. In actual fact, our daughters attachment issues (completely rejecting of me for the first year) felt very similar and yes I found it incredibly hard not to get anything back from her and suffered post adoption depression. I remember SW's painting a very rosy picture of this child who had been with foster carers since birth and came to us aged 9 months and thinking how lucky we were to "get a healthy baby". She is very traumatised and struggles behaviourally already.


It's very important to be honest, but talk to your SW and they will tell you that birth mothers drinking through pregnancy is very common in adoption.


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Our dd, placed as a very young child, looks and appears to many people to be fine but she has very complex needs that have only become obvious as she's got older. The fact that she looks fine and doesn't have an obvious disability makes it harder to get people to understand her needs. Don't underestimate the impact of behaviour issues and social/emotional issues on family life. Our lives revolve around meeting our dd's needs. No-one would have said that she had a disability at all when she was placed, there was no sign of it apart from what appeared to be normal toddler stuff.


If we were to adopt again we would probably look at children with known disabilities and make sure that the support was in place before the adoption order. We have looked into our dd having FASD but there is no proof and it's impossible to get a diagnosis without proof. There is no way to know whether a baby placed as F2A will have these issues. It's a huge leap into the unknown.


A xx


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Adoption is very uncertain for sure and you just don't know how things are going to work out. My baby's health needs have been more than I expected- BUT I adore him and do not regret the decision. With regards to the matching criteria perhaps it would be wise to put 'would consider' rather than rule everything out? (Unless there is something your every certain on/ for Me it was known autism) i did this and i felt that I could then look at each child on their own merit. I wouldn't worry about analysing every single scenario at this stage as each case is so different. X


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I have to say that autism is a huge spectrum but with it comes more support than you'd get with other diagnoses. One of mine is an aspie - very bright, high iq, sharp, smart, artistic, imaginative and doing really well academically despite a dodgy start to his education. My daughter is high functioning - in mainstream with support atm and doing well academically. I was frightened at the prospect of autism but actually in the scheme of things it's not that bad! My kids are happy, healthy and thriving. Frankly harder by far - imo - would be a child with an attachment disorder. And having a child as a baby is not a protector against that.


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Im glad to hear that Donatella! It's clear you love them. And the fact is once you love them you love them despite their needs! I am so committed to my baby even though it's harder than expectd and the future is perhaps a little more shaky! X


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Hi Justpounds. In discussing what we could cope with when we were being assessed, we were the same as you. our rationale was that we wanted to adopt children who would be capable of being independent adults. Social work were fine with that. We adopted two kids who were supposedly just victims of 'classic neglect' but as we all know, so much can be wrapped up in that - and it was.


My daughter 'may' have some form of FASD, (ARND) which mostly shows up at school, but they are issues (such as very severe dyscalculia and poor organisation and retention), which mean that unless she really works on developing strategies to cope, she's got a long way to go before she can live independently. But I love her to bits, and despite thinking my kids should be able to live independently, I'm fine with her being around as long as she needs to be - as long my hubby and I can go on holiday ourselves from time to time :-).


As others have said, you can't know about FASD as birth parents often lie about alcohol consumption, but I think it's okay to say you don't want to see profiles of children with known alcoholics as birth parents. But I guess you need to accept that you're not eliminating the risk, just trying to minimise it a small bit. My daughter was 9 when we adopted her, but her issues still weren't properly assessed - she has no facial features, and I think even some GPs still think this is the only indicator. She was a very damaged little girl - the 'daydreaming' we were told about was actually dissociation, and a classroom assistant had helped her pass a maths test that she should have failed - and then perhaps she would have had help much earlier.


Despite all of this, my girl has other talents outside the academic world (apparently sometimes underdeveloped parts of the brain can be compensated with strengths in other parts) I'm so pleased to say. She has a happy life, for the moment, although putting her years in her birth home in box and ignoring them are a big part of that.


I also think that a child with a severe attachment disorder would be harder to parent. My younger son has more attachment issues than she does and he's much more demanding!


Good luck. As long as you are open minded and aware of the risks, you'll be fine.

Haven x


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We adopted our second child through f2a. She came to us at birth from a BM with a long history of being unable to care for her other children. No known drug use or drinking in pregnancy. She is a delight and so far (aged 3) has no obvious problems.


Our older child has attachment problems and the effects of trauma and is very difficult to parent - though slowly getting easier as a result of near 18 months intensive therapy. He was placed at under 2, "with no problems". His problems - which were evident by week 2 of placement - have cross-overs with ADHD and ASD but because he has neither of those and is only a bit behind his peers he gets no help in school.


Just to illustrate that it's hard to avoid the risks due to the backgrounds that children have in 'modern' adoption.


If I were you, I would ask lots of questions of your social worker, along the line of 'you say this child has 3 older siblings in long term foster care. Could you share with me how they are doing.' Also, come back here and ask for advice when you have some possible matches on the table. Good luck.


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Everyone - thanks so much for the feedback, so many useful things for us to take away and think about and so much for us still to learn, but guess that's just ongoing. I sometimes wonder if in a way you can do too much research and send yourself down mind tunnels that don't really help. Anyway, You're all aceThanks.


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It really is up to you to think about. We said no to sexual abuse (due to other young children in the family) and no to a severe physical disability (purely because we live in a house on the die of a hill so lots of steps). Everything else was may consider including autism which I have seen mentioned a lot.


I suppose I am different to many as I am on the spectrum myself and have a brother who is very much on it. We both have our quirks but as Donatella said it is such a spectrum. Very few people would realise I am on spectrum because I am high-functioning and over the years have learnt coping mechanisms and to disguise it. It has also proved very useful as I can shut out all the adverse comments around me when Sqk is having a tantrum or in the middle of regression so behaving very much younger than he is.


On the subject of our noes - we ended up with a child whose life story does include sexual abuse but not of him. But we had many conversations about him and he is so much the right match for us. Yes it is hard at the moment as we are regretting decision not to defer school entry for a year as he is really struggling in year 1 but we are getting support in place and his problems are mainly down to emotional immaturity and sensory issues.


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