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Failed at Stage 1 Due to Adoptive Parents' Attitude

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Hi all


Sorry for the long post - please read it as this is a very complex issue which I'm seeking advice and support for.


Me and my wife have been in Stage 1 for over 6 months and recently received the news that we weren't being recommended for progression to Stage 2. This has obviously devastated us after unsuccessfully being able to conceive naturally, and having 3 failed cycles of IVF.


The reason for us being failed is actually no fault of our own according to the Stage 1 report. My wife is a self-employed child-minder with over 20 years' experience of working in nurseries and childcare. I was also adopted at the age of 6 months and saw three of my siblings adopted, which our social workers say would make us fantastic, well placed, and knowledgeable adoptive parents.


The problem and the reason for our failure to progress is my adoptive parents. They have always maintained an almost 'taboo', 'old school' attitude towards adoption and it was always stressed on me and my siblings that it was 'our secret' and we should never reveal it to anyone. Needless to say I ignored this on many occasions and remember getting scolded a number of times in my youth for disclosing it. My parents even blew a fuse big time when I got married 5 years ago, and I revealed to them that I'd told my wife about me and my siblings being adopted.


A social worker visited my parents as part of Stage 1 when this complexity came to light, to try and understand what was going on. The outcome of this was that I found out a lot of things about my past that I didn't know before, and I also didn't know that my second-to-youngest sibling doesn't even know he's adopted and doesn't know that we are either! The social worker noted this down as a major negative, and the primary reason why me and my wife couldn't progress. Understandably they say that this would confuse an adoptive child and suggesting that adoption is a secretive thing (to prevent my sibling finding out), would be highly confusing.


To make matters worse my adoptive parents always told me that there was a 'legal covenant' on my sibling preventing his adoption being public knowledge. The adoption agency we've gone through consulted with their legal adviser and several independent social workers, all of whom rubbished this and said such orders did not exist, especially when the adopted child is now 31 years old. Any legal restrictions would have been lifted at the age of 18.


Anyway last night I plucked up the courage to confront my parents on this and allow them to read the social workers' rejection report. My adoptive father rubbished the report as a 'pack of lies' and 'defamatory', whilst my adoptive mother basically sat there weeping. He said that the adoption agency were holding them to ransom and my siblings adoption and past should not have to play any part in it. He also stated he would NEVER tell my sibling about his adoption as it would be potentially devastating to him after so long, and because of the reasons why he was adopted in the first place (they refuse to even tell me about this).


In the end I said to my father "So you are basically saying that given the choice of allowing your son to adopt children or keeping a secret, you'd prefer to favour the secret?". His response was "If I've got the decision between you adopting and keeping my adoptive son's history a secret, then I choose to keep the secret. I don't care if this causes hurt to you or your wife; I care more about the consequences of your sibling finding out about his adoption". With that I was asked to leave the house and told that if we meet again in about 'five years time', we might try to make up again.


So my adoptive father now holds our right to have children via adoption in one hand, and keeping a secret from an adoptive child in the other which he clearer favours over his eldest adoptive son. As part of our conversation I suggested the possibility of them attending counselling (via PAC-UK) which our social worker had recommended to try and break the stalemate and change my adoptive parents' way of thinking. My father said that there was no way that either him, my adoptive mother, or my sibling would attend any counselling and that was final! He was not going to sit there and allow some counsellor to try and change his mind, or forcibly disclose to my sibling that he was not his real father.


So now I find myself in the situation where my parents want nothing to do with me, my wife, or our attempts to have children - a real mess to put it bluntly and I have no idea what to do next. My only concern is that my father has shown his 'true colours' and basically confirmed that he isn't really bothered about me, my wife, or her side of the family. All he wants is to keep his second-to-youngest adopted son's history a secret, and make sure that everyone else does too.


What he doesn't seem to understand is that sooner or later this 'timebomb' is going to go off. My sibling has just moved in with his girlfriend, and what if he can't have children and has to go through adoption?


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It sounds complicated, hopefully someone will come along soon with words of advice. In the meantime, suggest you change your username to something anonymous as this is an open forum. Good luck.


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I don't have any advice either - except maybe to ring the Adoption UK helpline.


I'm just shocked at the attitude of your adoptive parents.


Dear God.


Definitely you need to change your username.


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My question is why do you not tell this to your sibling? For sure it will be a shock, but earlier or later he wil get to know this! I think it is better when your parents are still alive.

What did your father say when you told him that you would tell him?

To me it sounds like it is time the truth comes out. Than you can start again in a year or so when the situation has calmed down.

It appears all very controling and manipulative, what do you have to loose? put the truth on the table, and write your parents a letter to say you told him, write another letter to the sibling, letters are better than words as you can really write down your feelings without being interrupted, and you can read it again before posting. You might even concider getting a psychiologist to help you, this always goes down very well by ss, than you have been active in solving a problem.


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I find it very hard to understand how they have managed to keep this a secret for so long - what about birth certificates? - and having done so it just gets harder and harder to tell the truth. Of course it will be devastating to your brother when he finds out - however he finds out - not the fact that he is adopted necessarily but that his whole life has been based on a lie. Your parents will of course want to avoid this. But it must be so hard for you to feel they have chosen him over you. And I can completely understand the attitude of the adoption agency because these days children have to know the basics of their story and secrets are a complete no-no. So any agency will take the same position. Your only option is to somehow resolve the situation - either as Pluto suggests or, if your parents will not budge, by not having contact with them or the rest of the family or perhaps by speaking with your Mum alone to see if she can do anything to change things or by giving up your hopes of adopting. There is no easy answer. Perhaps some counselling - or as a first step ring AUK as suggested above- they might know of an organisation who could help you - but also to discuss it fully as a couple because all these options will have significant long term implications for both of you.


On the positive side (so its not all doom and gloom) once the situation is resolved it will really set you up with insights on adoption and you should have no problems with being taken on.


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What a terribly difficult situation you and your wife are in. I echo Safia's comments that SWs would not want a child to enter an extended family where adoption is a taboo subject and where there is secrecy surrounding it. It does appear that your side of the family has a lot of secrets and perhaps communication wasn't high on the agenda at home, which again are red flags for SWs. Lots of adopters are estranged from their extended families for a variety of reasons and so I suppose one option is to distance yourself from your side of the family (let's face it, you can give compelling reasons) and see if another LA or VA might consider you. You and your wife seem to have so much experience to offer a child. I hope you are able to make progress and good luck x


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If you are not able to resolve this issue with your parents (and it sounds unlikely in light of all that you've said: if they are so old-school, your mum is unlikely to change your dad's mind). So the option, as above, is to find out whether your mum can somehow influence your father. If not, where does your mum stand in her relationship with you? (ie the 5 year period) You might find that your need/desire to become parents is stronger than your current situation and you may have to face mourning the loss of your parents, seeking counselling, etc., and return to adopting once you have had that counselling/time to come to terms with the situation. Your openess towards adoption is absolutely a positive for your future child. Unfortunately, many families do not have a relationship with their parents or other close family members for various reasons when they seek approval to adopt: so long as you can show how you have dealt with this (if the need arises), that's the key.


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I won't repeat what everyone else has said, but are you absolutely certain your brother doesn't know? Passport? Drivers license? Why would they tell you but kept it a secret from him? Maybe he does know but is colluding with them by going along with the secrecy? I find it very hard to believe tat he's reached 31 without ever needing his birth certificate which will state adoption on it? To get a passport he would have needed the long form?


Does he know that you're adopted? If yes, then why wouldn't that have rung bells? If he doesn't, then time to tell?


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It seems strange that you and your other siblings know they are adopted yet your brother does not. I can understand to a point your Dad not wanting you to tell the world you are adopted be not telling your future wife seems to be taking things a bit far.

I do wonder if perhaps your brother is related to someone within your parents extended family and your Dad is trying to protect them as well!!! (I may be totally wrong).


When my Grandad died my Gran told my Dad she was married to someone else and never divorced. In the 1920s when they met divorce was frowned upon and very expensive. Up to this point my Dad had always believed his parents where married.

My Grandad had always insisted on keeping this secret as he felt he was protecting my Gran and Dad from "shame".


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When adopted in 70s you will have one birth certificate. It's a size A5 type document. On green paper stating your name and then born in (town) and date of birth. And then an official stamp.

You do not have a long birth certificate or AO type paperwork. I remember first understanding something was different (I knew I was adopted but not fully understood that everyone else was also not adopted) at about 8 when at school we all had to bring our birth certificate in for a school activity and my certificate was much smaller than everyone else.

Passport, no you wouldn't know. In 70s and 80s they just took the short certificate, not as complicated as now. Plus if parents applied for passport as child it's just renewal, no birth certificate required.

Blood group is a huge thing, and very easy to work out I do not have my parents DNA.

I am sure that the sibling will know or be suspicious. It's a gut feeling.


G


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My grandmother also told her children on her deathbed she was born out of wedlock - and so clearly felt shame - so sad! And my mother didn't know her eldest 2 brothers were step brother (despite her mum being only 15 years older than one) until some of her cousins told her. People keep secrets thinking its for the best when at some point it will come out and it is better that it does - especially now when family relationships are accepted as being much more complex. My mothers view was that it made her family more interesting! If you are going to tell your brother it might be an idea to get as much information as possible from your Mum beforehand


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It is complicated but many of us have complicated stories but still go on to adopt.

I agree you should tell your brother as he needs the truth. Yes it will cause a lot of hurt but sooner or later he will find out. Even if he finds out aftr your parents deaths he will still be hurt and angry but he will also be angry at you for not telling him. I have personal experience of this.

Be open with adoption agency and reapply when things have settled down. Lots of us are adoptive parents with little or no support from our own parents. Also the agency will want you to work out this rejection by your parents in favour of your brother. It isn't the end of your chance to adopt but agencies and social workers will want to make sure you have coping strategies and are able to cope mentally while being in such a difficult dilemma and have a good support system where your child can be themselves.

All the best x


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Thanks for all the posts, information and views. I'll digest all of this and then provide a bigger post in the nearer future. It's great that there's so much supportive in dark times like this.


Response will be coming shortly! Smile


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I am afraid i have a slightly different view. All though i think your brother does need to know the truth, i don't think it should come from you. If you tell him under the present climate it will look like you are being vindictive and could damage your relationship with your parents (esp your mum) and your brother. I think you should seek counselling for yourself to come to terms with the disclosures made and how it affects you and your wife. I would also go back to your agency and challenge their decision - the viewpoint of your parents is very much the view taken by society and social services many years ago - that adoption was a new start and that all details of the "past life" should be sealed and be kept secret. You shouldn't have to pay the price of that. Indeed you adopting could be healing for your family in the long term - your parents will see that being open and honest about adoption with your child doesn't mean that the "sky will fall in" and can be very healing for the child. So go back to your agency - tell them that you are both getting counselling to help you come to terms with the disclosures , showing them that you are being proactive, also that you are going to cut ties with your parents until their viewpoint changes (which could be a long time) which will show that you are prepared to put your child's needs above everything else. Tell them also that you are living proof of why adoption must be "open" and that you are committed to it. You both have so much to give it would be a shame if you were not allowed to go progress further with your application.


I would also phone around other agencies and be upfront about the situation and get their views - you may find one a bit more sympathetic. As others have said - many adopters have had to cut ties with unsupportive family members so please don't let it put you off.


best wishes xx


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Totally agree with the post above by waterfalls. It wouldn't be right to inform your sibling (assuming he really doesn't know) unless you feel he would be hurt even more by your non-disclosure? At the very least you would need to tell your parents what you proposed doing - the family has enough secrets already, and doesn't need more.


I'd talk to the agency again and other agencies. People are accepted for adoption even when relationships with extended family are dire or non-existent, so it's worth thinking about how you could convince them to take you on after all.


Wishing you all the best.


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I personally don't think you should approach the agency or any other until you are much clearer about your family situation. If you were to stop contact that would be fine probably (as far as the agency is concerned) but you haven't reached that stage yet and they would want to know the long term position too which you can't yet be clear about. There is no way an agency would consider someone whilst this unresolved secrecy regarding the adoption is still in the family situation. Even though the situation may have been common years ago and is perfectly understandably from your parents perspective it needs to be resolved. You need to talk together as a couple and I think counselling would be helpful and that you need to take your time over this as it will impact on you all


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I can see both sides of everyone's advice. I hate secrets, but I do wonder if outside of your (truly heartbreaking) situation it would be your place to tell your sibling? I think you should go and talk to a counsellor who specialises in adoption about this whole thing. You might also get some help from an adoption agency as an adoptee to try and sort this out, rather than as a prospective adopter.


My only other thought about opening things up was a bit was this; if you were close to your sibling, you might want to talk to them about your own adoption - you may then find that they reveal their own knowledge, if they have any. However, don't do this before talking to someone, as I said before. if you think about it - adoptees or birth parents are supposed to search out their birth relatives with the aid of an intermediary and ongoing counselling. I feel that in some ways this is similar.


I do hope that you can sort something out. Try to keep in mind that your adoptive father, for all his confused reasoning is trying to act in everyone's best interests (even if he is wrong!) and don't blame him too much. If you can find a way forward, you going on to adopt may be a very healing thing for the whole family.


best of luck,

Haven x


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Hi,

Just wanted to share my husband’s experience when he found out he was adopted.


It had been kept from him and was a “big secret”. When he found out in his late teens (by accident) he also discovered that close friends and family knew too. He was so angry he left home with £20 in his pocket and slept rough in London. Thankfully he found a job and a place to stay but it was 5 years before he spoke to his family again. The anger was not because he was adopted but because it had been kept from him, he felt like everyone who knew had been lying to him.


He did re-build his relationship with his parents eventually. He now has some details around his birth family but has never felt any urge to find out more.


While he was away his grandparents died without his knowledge. I just think all of this could have been avoided. “Secrets” have a way of getting out and very often the people who think they are protecting someone are the ones who are blamed and bear the brunt of the anger.


Hope you find a resolution.


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Hi,

Just wanted to share my husband’s experience when he found out he was adopted.


It had been kept from him and was a “big secret”. When he found out in his late teens (by accident) he also discovered that close friends and family knew too. He was so angry he left home with £20 in his pocket and slept rough in London. Thankfully he found a job and a place to stay but it was 5 years before he spoke to his family again. The anger was not because he was adopted but because it had been kept from him, he felt like everyone who knew had been lying to him.


He did re-build his relationship with his parents eventually. He now has some details around his birth family but has never felt any urge to find out more.


While he was away his grandparents died without his knowledge. I just think all of this could have been avoided. “Secrets” have a way of getting out and very often the people who think they are protecting someone are the ones who are blamed and bear the brunt of the anger.


Hope you find a resolution.


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Hi there


I just wanted to send you my support during what must be a very difficult time.


I would also suggest that you go through the adoption agency's processes to appeal their decision. There are plenty of people who have been able to adopt while e.g. being estranged from their parents. If you are now estranged (and it seems like you are if your father isn't going to speak to you for five years), then this puts a different slant on things. It seems unfair that you should be punished because of your wider family.


Best of luck.


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Apologies for the long absence - obviously emotions ran riot!


I'm just reading all your comments and I'll be writing a follow-up post shortly...


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Hi all.


I've now had chance to read and absorb some of the information and recommendations here. Understandably tensions have been running high, but I suppose the first step is to give you an update.


I'm still not talking with my parents and no attempt has been made to re-establish communication on their part (I haven't tried, but my anger is running too high to try and do it). About 3 weeks after the initial fall-out I received a text on my mobile from my youngest sibling (who's aware of his own adoption, but only by accident). The message was very callous and referred to me and my wife as selfish, insensitive nobody's who had no right to treat my parents in this way. Knowing my parents would have only told him the 'sweet facts' that made us look bad and them look badly done-to, I offered him to come over, have a coffee and talk about it like two brothers should do. His response was "No thanks - I've made my decision, and whilst I'm at it, this is your sister's view too", and since then I've not heard a thing. My brother who doesn't know he's adopted is still happily in contact regularly, but then again my parents can't 'poison' him because they can't explain to him why we're taking the approach that we are.


We did try to apply again to another agency on the request of my wife but no surprisingly we have been turned down after two months because of the situation with my parents, and apparently not having an emotional break from being turned down before (probably a women thing, but no offence intended). The strange thing is that the SW who came out to us said that me breaking relationships with my parents was a sign of great strength and a clear indicator of how much we valued having a child via adoption. When we got the phone call today the SW said that her boss had stated that the fall out was very bad and that "Bridges had to be built" before they would even consider us for enrolment on their adoption pathway.


So now me and my wife find ourselves in a vicious circle. My wife regularly encounters my folks in town and they just walk straight past her like she's a statue even if that's just a matter of inches. I haven't bumped into them yet because I work some distance away and aren't around when my folks are most likely to be out and about.


In all honesty we're now looking at desperate measures. We're considering upping sticks and moving to a new build house 20 miles away and settling into a new life out of the are a where I've been brought up. It doesn't look like we're going to get anywhere with other authorities until at least 6 months from now, which is the recommendation from the latest authority. We're also considering taking out a formal complaint against the first adoption agency for various reasons including racial harassment of my wife over the ethnicity of her father, failing to record information correctly, and not offering the support that we feel we were entitled to.


Anyway I'll still be around on here so if there are any other recommendations please let me know. You may be interested to know that I've now formally applied for my pre-adoption birth certificate to find out my real name. If my christian name has always been the same (I know it may have been different), but I may already know my real name as there were three births with the same name as me at the same hospital in Q3 1976.


I'll let you all know how I get on, but thanks for the support. Both me and my wife appreciate it! Smile


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Oh my goodness, what a rough situation. I could cry for you. I think I would be tempted to write to your siblings and gently give them your own side of the story, just so they know both sides. You can say it's okay if they still feel they way they do, but you wanted them to know your side of things. I'd be honest and say how hard this has been on both of you too.


I would also reiterate what Flosskirk and others have said. If things really can't be resolved, you would not be the only people to adopt who are estranged from their parents or a side of the family. The trick would be to show that you have a really good support network otherwise. And yes, you may need some time out, but six months is not a long time in the adoption process, it really isn't!


There are people on here who have had bad experiences complaining about the service they have had from adoption agencies. I hope some of them can give you some advice about whether you should formally complain.


Take care. hx


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Oh i agree. How awful for you and your wife. I cant understand how your parents could treat you like this!

So sorry for your hurt.

I agree with haven . Take a break, build a strong network of support and regroup . I truly hope you find a way forward even though it looks like it will cost you your adoptive parents. You have done nothing to deserve this treatment. Stay strong xxx


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You poor loves.


I'm so sad to hear your update.


I agree with others about writing to your siblings to tell them the truth about what has happened and leave it to them if they still want a relationship with you and your wife.


For what it's worth, I think your idea of moving away makes sense. I would go further and suggest you two leave adoption in the back burner and start rebuilding your lives.


Stay in touch when you can and remember that this is a site completely open to the public.


Sending warmest wishes to you both.


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So sorry to hear this has happened. I also think moving away would be a good idea. I also agree that you have been treated pretty badly by your agency. But, please do not make any formal complaint as yet - take a break from it all and give yourselves some breathing space. Any formal complaint i am sure will be logged and when you get accepted by another agency (which i am sure you will) you don't want this to come back and bite you. I would however go back to the social worker who was sympathetic and on your side and ask her how you can "build bridges" and what if your parents continue to rebuff you, after all you can take a horse to water but you can't make it drink. If you follow up on the social workers suggestions and then show that your parents are not responding then i am sure this will help.


Please take care of yourselves, we are all thinking of you.


best wishesxx


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I too think moving away would be best and making a fresh start - your wife would then hopefully not have to experience the rejection so frequently. I also agree about writing to your siblings - just once - explaining as far as you can - what happened and saying how you have not rejected the family but would like to see them all from time to time. The rest is up to them but you will then feel you have been able to say what you feel and have left the door open. You could also write to your parents in the same way. Take your time with the wording - it is something they may keep and come to again and again over time.


I do not think making a complaint would get you anywhere and you would spend a lot of emotional energy going down a dead end. You could of course write to them outlining your concerns or asking for clarification if you feel it would be useful - something less formal.


I want to just recommend counselling again - sorry to keep doing this - but I have had the benefit of this recently and it was really helpful for me. You have a number of complex losses to process. It is also something that would go down well with social workers too in the future - when you re-apply - not only to show that you are seeking help in dealing with your family situation but also because all children entering care will have experienced losses - some many - and anything that helps you understand how this may affect them will be useful


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