Relationships - please can someone help me to understand?

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My other half and I are interested in adoption. We've been together for nearly three years, engaged for over a year, and living together for 6 months. However, pretty much every agency we've looked at requires us to have been living together for 24 months minimum (with one exception, which is 12 months), "to prove that our relationship is stable". My single friend is also looking into adopting. She's looked at some of the same agencies, and hasn't come up against any similar restrictions. So, a single person could in theory adopt even if they were bringing a different bloke/girl home every other week, as long as they didn't let on to the agency.

I've been married before, years ago, and lived with my ex for over six years. In that time, we rowed constantly and he cheated numerous times. My fiancé and I have literally never shared a cross word. So I don't understand how living together for an arbitrary period of time proves anything, or why there is a requirement for couples to prove that their relationship status is stable, but not for single people.

Please can someone help me to understand why this is?

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I know it might feel hard to understand and unfair, but there are good reasons. Putting aside your friend's experience for the moment, it can be completely different living together than it is just having a relationship. The other key factor here is that you have had a fairly recent change in your relationship status. Change = stress and instability, particularly in the eyes of social workers. Six months of living together is not that long, and you will not have had to work through many of the challenges that forming your new little unit will throw up.

Proving that you are stable is all about managing to get through the rough as well as the smooth, under the same roof, when there is no getting away from each other - and doing this over time. It was only when we started having our infertility problems and miscarriages that my partner (now husband) and I really, really got to know that we could work through anything. And that was after 15 years of being together, and 13 of living together - we didn't particularly argue and have always had a good relationship (not that I'm saying you need to wait that long!). But working through our troubles and misfortunes and showing that it made us stronger was something that Social Workers wanted to see.

To counter your argument that you think a single person could just lie - so could a couple. They could say they weren't arguing or fighting, when in fact they were. In fact, that is what many birth parents do - tell social workers all is fine, when it isn't. Equally, you could be someone who wished your potential adoptive child harm and lie about that. Social Workers are well practised at seeing what really goes on in a home. The whole point of home study (as it was called in Scotland when we adopted) and all the intrusive visits is to make sure that the family is stable, can cope with the stresses and emotional upset that adoption brings, and that nothing untoward is hidden.

I think it's great that you get on so well, but I also think you do have to have experience of sharing a cross word and resolving it - in fact several cross words - with your partner. Adoption will bring conflict, and you need to be able to work though it. My husband and I are both fairly quiet and calm, but adoption has brought us stresses we never knew we would face, and we have argued about different attitudes to parenting and so much more. But we know through experience, that we will work things out and listen to each other. I really do feel that only comes with time. The way we handled disagreements after five years is very different to the way we handle them after twenty.

Your single friend is actually quite lucky not to have been more challenged, especially when there are very few children around for adoption. I imagine they will have looked into her support networks (which are incredibly important) and whether she is looking to have any new relationships, again because stability needs to be maintained. If she were to embark upon a new and serious relationship during her adoption journey, I'm fairly sure her application would be put on hold - and it could be for years, because that would have to be proved to be stable too.

My advice to you is to put adoption on hold for maybe a year or so and enjoy being a couple. Keep your shared dream and do some of the things (like travel and socialise) that, I promise you, you will not get to do as an adoptive parent. And keep reading up on adoption and all the issues surrounding it. Then you will come back stronger - more experienced both as a couple living together and as prospective adopters. And that can only approve your chances in what is a very competitive arena.

Good luck,

Haven x

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I think haven has described very well the reasons why SWs request a minimum time for couples living together. But as singly I don't understand what similar 'restriction' you think could be placed on single prospective adopters. This is about demonstrating a relationship is stable. I can't prove that something that doesn't exist is stable.

I can assure I was grilled to death about past relationships, how long I had been single, what I would do if I met someone after adoption. If I was in the habit of bringing random people home it would have been picked up in home study. I can't say I know any single person who has adopted who was in the habit of bringing someone different home every weekend, and after children arrive home, forget it, neither time, energy or inclination. It's also never a good idea to lie to social workers, they will always find out.

I don't know if you are aware that at the moment there appears to be many more adopters than children, many pepole are waiting months if not years to find a child. Six months or so is really no time. In the current climate I'd think I'd use the time to research, gain knowledge and experience, to put yourself in the strongest possible position when you are able to start the process.

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I agree with Haven.

The arbitrary waiting periods seem ridiculous at the time, be it 2 years living together, 6 months from last fertility treatment etc etc. And these are just minimums because in this current competitive prospective adoption environment its no guarantee that an agency will take you on even if you meet the targets. But they are set for a reason and once you have got through the "system" and look at it from the standpoint of an adoptive parent you do see the sense in a majority of what the SWs and agencies do.

And tbh its not just the living together time limits, you have lots of hoops to jump through like references (even from ex partners, SW will want to interview them), medicals, police checks, finances, housing and childcare experience. And your single adopter friend will have exactly the same hoops to jump through, even more so when it comes to finances, support network and not being in a significant relationship.

From my experience adoption is a long distance journey to say Australia, not a day trip to to London done in a mad rush. Use the time waiting wisley to enjoy you new relationship, develop memories to survive the tough times. Build adoption knowledge, attend training courses, get relevant childcare experience with age appropriate traumatised children and save lots of money to help once child is placed. That way when you approach an agency in the future they will snap you up.

Good luck on your journey


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More of the same from my personal opinion.

I am a single person. Once I made the decision to adopt that was my commitment. I have no intention of bring home different men. or even the same man home to a house where their would be a child that would need my time and focus (of which I would love to be in a situation to give)

The agencies should be challenging you. I would be, your engaged, not married just yet, why not do the big milestones first and adjust to those changes, all of which can bring their own challenges. Enjoy your time together. (I don't mean to sound righteous, so forgive me if it does - I too have been engaged and loved with someone for 5 years (on two occasions) Neither was right.

As a single I would have 1:1 focus on the child and that would be my strength to a child that needed that.

It must be a very exciting time for you but even the strongest relationships adjust to being married/ or long term living together. Relatively you have not been living with someone that long. (I am not saying its going to fail, or course not, but think ahead of the bigger picture) - You say you have never had a cross word, maybe that's what you need to do more of to see how you react with each other and manage that situation. I expect the pressures of adoption will bring many different emotions - you would be challenged in home study how you deal with them. If you answer you don't know you haven't and your only examples of arguing in previous relationships resulted in a a failed one, they would pick that up. You may be one of the lucky couples that never argue - ever, but how realistic is that? Esp in the length of your time together.

As a single, your quite right, there may well be a time I may meet someone, but that would be after a long time and would be handled in a way that put the child's needs first and foremost. Unfortunately, these children in the main have been through so much, and witnessed so much, stability is more important than other situations.

To your point about singles not being in a position to prove their relationship is stable. They don't have to prove that because they made a choice not to have a relationship that that time.

However, I can assure you I was grilled on my intentions to be single, what if I met someone, what if I got lonely, why my previous relationships had failed. How would I cope with rejection being alone. I had to demonstrate a number of different examples of how I would act/cope/react.

At the end of the day - There is a case for both:

Why might i state I am more stable because relationships fail, a child couple just be settling in and then the partnerships breaks and that chid that has suffered loss, suffers more loss, where by with me they have my focus and time totally committed.

It is down to the agency's ways of working, the needs of the children they have or have seen and lets be frank the current lack of children in care ready to be placed for adoption. The balls in their court and if you think this part of the process is hard going wait 18/24 months on when your still in it and finding children are being placed with others who are stronger match's.

Goodness I sound Negative I am sorry, just trying to keep it realistic.

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