The early days

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I would be interested to hear from people about their experiences of the early weeks and months after placement. How did it go for you?

There is a lot of discussion on this forum of the child’s experiences, therapeutic parenting and challenges the child deals with. I have noticed there is very little out there that ensures adopter mum’s or dad’s are looked after.

There is absolutely no argument that it is the child’s welfare first but can I hear from adopters who despite the training, preparations and reality checking, still felt like a train wreck. When did this get better for you? What did you do?

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There are different degrees of better, when we first heard about our AD we were told it takes ages for her to make a connection with a women, men she’s quick with. All through intros she would monopolis my hubby and be rude, spiteful and physically abusive to me, this is still on going and where 3 1/4 years in to placement. I have hated her on and off during this period, I find it hard to love a child who spits in my face, pulls my hair, hits, punches and kicks me. Tells me to leave the house and is totally awful, admittedly when she wants something she can be lovely, overly sweet and cuddly.

It has got better, the attack’s are less frequent, I’ve learnt to minimise my exposure to her on a one to one basis, so we’re out a lot as she doesn’t do it in public, also having a structured approach at home, so we minimise her stress and her temper getting lost.

No it’s not how I imagined parenting, I prayer every night that the next day will be better, some days are some aren’t. I feel that SW don’t see it as an issue, I called it domestic violence once, every SW went white and said categorically it wasn’t.to me, if you are being hurt in you own home by a member of your house hold it is.

So no help for us, just random expressions and pointing of fingers at us. Would I do it again, to say the answer would be no, she’s bitten me twice and punched me in the back hard. On other days it would be yes as I see the odd glimps of what she could of been is SW had acted early and removed her as a toddler.

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Createamum, thank you for your honesty. I admire you for sticking through it and being realistic. I hope too that each day gets better. Have you experienced any therapuetic work with her on her behaviour to you?

My post was because adopters need to take care of themselves and reach out and say it is ok to put yourself first once in a while otherwise how can you be what the children need.

I feel this way because I am a new adopter who is struck down with a stress related illness (from the journey getting here I expect) and I really feel there is not enough out there for the parents.

Adopters are frightened to speak out to SW because let’s face it, SW are ticking the child welfare boxes, it’s not you they are responsible for. That said, adopters are cleared to adopt because they have been assessed to be sensible, seek help, do the right thing etc etc. Adopters are unique and amazing, but human at the end of the day.

I can imagine the SW went white at the mention of domestic violence. You are right though, violence from a child to a parent is another of those issues swept under the carpet. Society is talking about DV on men at last but violent children is an issue society probably just hopes the parent will ‘cope with’ but of course they don’t. You wear the bite and also the guilt that you ‘hate her’ sometimes, or that you might be doing something wrong.

I hope things pan out and get better. Big adopter hug out to you.

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I'm afraid you need to get used to there being very little out there available for adopters - it is all geared up to support the child.

Many adopters have to find ways to support themselves - many have regular counselling and many are on ADs - you are right looking after yourself is important, for me that means regular exercise, eating well, sleep, prayer time and good friends, but it will be different for each person. I learnt the hard way after getting secondary trauma and had counselling for some time as I recovered.

I do think it is something that should change, but at the moment there is no appetite in government for it.....actually its worse than that, even the stuff you think should be there to support your child isn't, so on top of parenting children who are frequently challenging, you are likely to find yourself having to fight for basic supports for them - health and education and therapies.....its draining.....

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The problem is you usually lose your support network, a lot of our family and freinds ran a mile when AD first arrived, those that stuck around also have children with issues of their own so understand, but can’t offer physical support. Our approach, is we use wrap around school care, I get in from work once a week at 3, AD stays in school until 6, in those three hours, I clean the house, sort our what I can and get half an hour of me time. I think the powers that be don’t want to admit that the system produces children that can’t live in a regular family environment. We know of two adopters who disrupted with pre teens ( 11 and 12 year olds), who became too violent and dangerous to themselves.

My wish for our daughter is that we can find a therapy that she can access, that listens to us and her about her needs and wishes, and doesn’t try and blame us for the outcome especially in front of her as this rocks her security.

Since AD arrived I’ve been diagnosed with two major life altering medical conditions, we’re lucky we have learnt to support each other, even though she try’s to force us apart with lies. I do wonder when she gets older, will we be one of the families on here saying we’ve disrupted as it’s become too much. At the moment we can just manage and

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We have also introduced ways to cope.

The process from the start is isolating in that you are advised to not introduce too many family members too early. You’re advised to stay close to home, keep everything stable.

I hear this and I understand it. The problem is, it is not realistic. It is not a stable environment if you isolate yourself. You as an adopter are just as important. Without you, the child does not have stability, therapuetic parenting, security, love etc etc.

I made the choice to listen to the training, accept the reading and advice from people with more experience than me, and then combine that with my gut feeling.

I introduced nursery hours earlier than SW & LA advised. She thrived. I taught AD that I needed to leave the room for the toilet, she accepted it and there are no attachment problems with leaving her to do normal things. I guess what I am getting at is, there is a balance. If adopters are living life on anti-depressants and 30 mins me time, are children benefiting from that?

If new adopters or those considering adoption read this, take from the advice and training what you need and then decide yourself what is right for you and your family.

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I spiralled down into depression within weeks of placement and I do think this was partly due to the isolation and loss of 'self' I felt. I was trapped in a house with 2 small strangers. There was no intellectual stimulation. I was lonely and missed my mum. When my sister gave birth we all supported her- came round to do her housework, went for walks with her and the baby, sat with the baby while she went to the hairdresser...

But on the advice of SS and books and other adopters on this site dh and I shut ourselves away to focus on building a relationship with the children. And once dh went back to work after a month it was just me. I got depressed and resented the children for making me feel that way- 3 years later I think our relationship still suffers because of it. A few months in I got antidepressants, counselling, and some childcare one afternoon a week so I could go to the counselling and have some space. And I was criticised by the children's SW for 'putting my needs before those of the children'.

In retrospect I think we should and could have leant on friends and family more- the way most new mums do. It is a massive change and shouldn't be attempted alone.

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I think RedGreen you've really hit the nail on the head with your comment about the encouragement to isolation/ funnelling and how this adds to a sense of isolation and cuts you off and can, as Mundy has said, contribute to depression. I do think it is really important that new adoptive parents can get Angel a bit of respite and (b) company and contact beyond the new adoptive family.

We adopted 3 'older' children (3, 4 and 6) who were used to going to school/nursery, and so after a 3 week introductions and settling in period the younger two went to nursery 4 half days a week and my eldest started at school. The two hours I had on those afternoons were a lifeline for me - just to mooch in the shops on my own, have a cuppa, or sit in the garden with a magazine (and, occasionally, a sneaky beer!) We also worked out fairly early on that, nightmareish as it was to try to put three children to bed single-handedly, it was worth it if it meant that your partner could have a night off with friends, and so we would do that. The SWs are right I think to avoid overwhelming newly placed children by introducing them to dozens of friends and relationships. But there will be people outside the immediate family - grandparents, perhaps your siblings, close friends who live locally - who you would hope over time will have a close relationship with the children. Having these people round and with you in the early days, not necessarily to look after the children directly but to give you support, in my view is a good think for the health and well-being of adoptive parents as well as the children.


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I'm sorry to hear it is so hard. I expect we all find life hard in different ways, especially in the early days when we haven't had time to adapt to the massive changes in our lives.

I think the isolation / loss of self is huge and disagree with the advice to keep the child away from family and friends. At least, certainly not to the extent of complete isolation. Who knows if it's even effective? FCs don't do this.

I didn't with my first child. The advice wasn't as clear back then and these boards didn't exist. I felt isolated from work and my relationships with my friends had to change due to practical considerations. But I took dd out to groups, made new connections with acqaintances like my next door neighbour etc. I hated being home alone with her all day so I just didn't do it. It wasn't her, she was lovely. I just missed adult company. I really don't think it affected her or our relationship which, despite her quirks, has always been good (however, she was a baby on placement).

Dd2 came along 6 years later and I knew all about funnelling by then. I did what I could which was very difficult. For one thing 4 separate sws, none of whom dd knew, visited us in the first few weeks. I reasoned that if that was ok then why shouldn't we have a few short visits from our family and friends - I spaced them out as much as I could. Then dd was referred everywhere so we had tons of appointments to keep. Dd1 went back to school after a few weeks (summer hols) so we had to go to her school twice daily where obviously interactions with others were unavoidable.

On top of that, as I got to know her, I realised dd's biggest problems were journeys and other people's houses - clearly she feared she was being moved on again when she experienced these. So partly I avoided them and partly I gradually introduced them more frequently so she would learn that she always came home with us.

Personally I think you do need to consider your own needs, as well as the child's. Sws can be very dogmatic but we're the ones living it. I felt much more confident in disagreeing with sws and doing my own thing the second time round. They wanted dd, aged just 2, to go to nursery as she needed to socialise. What bxxxxxks! What did they think she was doing with me?! I just said no repeatedly. She's 12 now and has great social skills (always did have, only issue was anxiety ).

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Thank you everyone for your experiences. I hope it helps others as well as each other.

I am currently on a whole day off, just me and the dog and i feel a whole lot better. Having spoken with a professional this morning, i am on the cusp of post adoption depression. It doesnt worry me, i realise its to be expected and i know what to do about it. (I saw someone privately rather than wait for NHS referral - im a believer in putting your health first. I know its not always possible but sometimes its better to pay for it than wait and be in the throws of a depression because an NHS referral took so long).

Its good to hear that people made their own decisions and they made the right ones for them.

There is certainly a balance with introducing the little ones to too many people. Too many and we deal with the behaviours. Too little and we feel isolated.

I have had quite alot of duff advice from SW. Like others, mine doesnt even know the child. (Too many changes of SW).

I have started to take control and have more confidence in my decisions.

Im in charge! Haha

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The first year my DDs were home I used to live for the hour on a Sunday when they were at Sunday School and I sneaked out of church during the sermon to sit in a coffee shop and stare into space...!

But funnelling shouldn't mean complete isolation - it's probably something SWs have latched onto (like 'attachment' - which will be 'transferred'!) without necessarily understanding it. If LO is getting all their care from you, and is being introduced to a limited number of situations, then you're probably doing enough funnelling.

The 'limited' situations could include your home with someone else there for a cup of coffee, as long as they understand what you're doing and direct LO's attention back to you. Or the playground in a park, the library, a quiet coffee shop. Wherever it won't be too busy and other people will either ignore you both (!) or focus on you rather than LO.

It got better for us about 5 years in, about 18 months after we disrupted with EDD Wink but ignore that, it was an unusual situation Biggrin

Seriously? It gradually got easier, we got into a routine, YDD settled, life with YDD became 'normal' for me, work troubles eased and therefore financial worries eased, ADs kicked in... a whole load of things contribute and some of them are because of adoption, some general life stresses which exacerbate the stresses of becoming a parent and any adoption specific stresses.

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Glad to find I am not the only one that has absconded (in my case to Costa) during Sunday School.

Our Rector's wife said "Good, for you !! ( she has four kids of her own)


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There was no such thing as funnelling when mine were placed - I just used good old commonsense. I wanted my kids to have good relationships within family so they were introduced pretty quickly. And when we had no 2 and then no 3 placed, family had to be involved in order to maintain some routine for the ones already at home. Hasn’t done my kids any harm.

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Same with me - we just lived a normal life from the start - didn't cause any problems or affect bonding - I think the issue is making sure you (or DH) do all the caring as much as possible and that they don't get left with other people - if anything upsets them then you need to look at that and try and work out why and whether you need to avoid this. For example someone mentioned visiting others houses - we didn't actually do that - people came to us or we met in a park or somewhere - and to be honest did not overdo it anyway. One of the neighbours came in and was a little over familiar so we didn't encourage her back

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Oh we had one of those neighbours too! I used to pretend I wasn’t in when she came knocking !!

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Must have been hard with 3 kids! (to pretend you're not in!)

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Really goes to show, one size does not fit all.

During this discussion a friend told me she was adopted in the seventies. She said the same about common sense. She thinks she thrived on old fashioned stability, boundaries and love.

If my children are like her, i would be very proud.

Interestingly, she was 2 with a difficult birth and withdrawel. She thinks that because she was not treated differentely and has known ‘forever’ she was adopted, she felt secure and so handled all the usual bumps in the road as her peers without her parents attributing everything to being adopted.

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She’d taken the hint by the time no’s 2 and 3 appeared safia ... but I was known to hide in my bedroom !

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Glad I am not the only one who absconds during church, we have a community church and one Sunday a month we meet for breakfast then go for a walk in the country as part of the service. My lovely vicar and her husband take AD with their three kids, I go to a local pub or cafe for tea and cake.

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Hi there. I absolutely hated the first few weeks / months and ended up seriously ill in hospital with a stress induced condition!

My main observations are:

Unrealistic expectations - I wanted things to be perfect and there was too much to do and I was drowning big time.

Feeling fake - I didn't believe I was a real mum

Dealing with the children's distress -it turns out I pick up other people's feelings and act them out for them

Losing my previous life - I was working full time and commuting. I missed everything

Lack of a new lifestyle - I didn't know people with young children

My attachment style - too anxious

Issues around my own parenting by my mother which had never been resolved and which were now rearing their head big time

I feel that prep should have picked up a lot of this but it didn't.

What helped was time. I planned to funnel but dropped that idea very quickly. My girls went to nursery 3 mornings a week and I got a break.

Be kind to yourself. Meet other adopters. Don't try to be perfect / do too much. Xxx

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Well said flosskirk x

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Yes you are right. There should be more on looking after the parents. After all we are the tree/trunk from which the child gets energy/love/comfort etc. We need to do more yoga, swimming, music and anything that floats your boat or makes you feel good. Vital I think.

We too hid away and I felt low as a result. Social services need to rethink their ideas on how to do it all at the start. Your friends and family are what keep you going and so keep them in your lives. Tell them it's hard. I also read a lot which helped me hugely. Lots of plays and greek dramas about dramatic lives!

I so agree with many of these comments. Find something you love doing on your own or with friends and do it without the children. Get a regularly babysitter who they can build a relationship with and then you can go out in the eves. Your sense of self is important.

Good luck!

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I had a very similar experience with our AD, she came to us at 17 mths and even at that age seemed to be able to show spiteful behaviours. Of course I was told a child so young cant chose its behaviour and that it was all needs driven. AD would be sweet when going to bed but in the morning would blank me and move away from me. She had been in foster care for one year but with really nice people and had a good rapport with the mother (figure). As I got more ignored and her triangulation tactics increased I became depressed. She would pinch me and bit me and pull hair.

AD is just about to turn 7 and after two years of psychotherapy (me) and two years play therapy (her) plus accessing all relevant SS training, in particular Therapeutic Crisis Intervention, I am relieved and hopeful to say her (and my) behaviour is 1000 times better. She in pleased to see me at school pick up and gives genuine soft hugs often. I can finally say that I love her BUT it took a lot of work and if we'd had more children I doubt if the placement could have survived. As you said, it was domestic violence in a very psychotic as well as physical way and my husband took forever to believe me or see her behaviours.

We pushed for respite care which SS would not provide directly but agreed to pay good friends of our to do so on a fortnightly basis for a day. This allowed my husband and I to breathe and save our marriage! I really hope you get the help and support you need. It's no fun carrying on when things don't change for the better. Just to note, AD still has major regulation difficulty in many circumstances but I have become better at letting the steam vent rather than putting coal on the fire. Note 2, I'm still a work in progress! All the best.

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