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Stunning photo /open adoption

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I have just seen a lovely photo of our youngest son, his birth sister, her husband and 2 children. Happy and obviously enjoying Christmas together

We adopted him and his older brother with contact with their older sister who remained in foster care. Over the years she has stayed with us ,been on holiday with us ,had her 2 brothers stay with her and has brought her husband and children to stay with us.she including us on the top table at her wedding.

She rang us when their birth mum died and supported her brothers at their birth mums funeral. (She also came to their (different) birth dad's funeral with us eighteen months ago)

For us open adoption has worked well . The boys see their sister and cousins who are all in work and get on with our sons. The wider birth family respects that our sons are part of our family and have older brothers,other cousins, grandparents etc

Our son will return home tomorrow ready to go back to work next week. Go partying with his uni friends and catch up with our wider family.

Not all open adoptions work so well but we are delighted that the siblings get on so well and enjoy seeing one another


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Both my kids have sibling contact with siblings in care or adopted, and it's been very positive for them. But wider birth family would be much more fraught. Glad you have such a positive situation.

Best Wishes

Pingu


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This is really lovely to read. I am an adopter and foster carer. I currently have two lovely little fc, really delightful aged 3 and almost 6 who the LA feel should remain in LT foster care due to the desire to maintain contact with an older sibling. Their argument is that there are rarely adopters available that are willing to take on this age group of siblings and facilitate direct sibling contact. My belief is that they should try really really hard to find that right family and your post proves that it can and does work. I will continue my battle!!


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I am saddened , cheese and crackers, that the desirability of sibling contact would prevent an LA from making adoption the aim for such young children. If they think it's so vital then it can be incorporated into a court order, if they must., but surely it's no reason not to try for adoption. Most adopters I know, who have older children, have found sibling contact a positive thing. Not just for the kids but for the adopters as well. Our eldest son adopters were a real support to us and they told us it really helped their kids. Some close friends have two siblings they adopted at about 4 and six, it's certainly not past age for possible adoption.

Hope you can manage to move the discussion along !

( I am assuming here that all the kids are in care. It's rather more tricky, a completely different kettle of fish, if we are talking of kids still with birth parents as this raises all sorts of feelings from the kids)


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Hi Pingu, eldest sib is currently living with grandparents and will be continuing with direct contact with birth mum. In an ideal world my two would also have some form of direct contact with mum (it would I believe be positive for them). However, if the choice is to maintain contact with sibling and maybe mum and remain a LAC for the rest of their lives versus and adoptive family then I believe the choice should absolutely be adoption. The csw is actually going to take my views to management and has actually asked a member from the adoption team to discuss it with me which at least means they are listening.

They really are gorgeous kids and them remaining in care breaks my heart.


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Thanks for that, cheese and crackers, all the best for the meeting.

Pingu


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So glad it’s worked steps. I do think open adoption holds a lot of good potential if only people understand that adoption that’s closed is not a modern concept, social media having completely changed everything. Sibling contact just retraumatised my AC but in other circumstances I would love for it to have worked


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It’s lovely that you have found a family set up which works well for you and your children.

I find the debate between more open and less open adoptions to be very polar in its nature.

On one hand we have the very open adoptions which from the outside look more like guardianship where there is regular contact with BFam including BParents, lots of sharing and a feeling that the adopters are simply caring for the children in a wider family environment. At the other end is the closed adoption from 40 years ago when many adoptive children found out they were adopted when they applied for their birth certificate in adulthood.

The truth of the matter is that today there are many different sorts of adoption and hugely different contact arrangements. This is sometimes driven by the circumstances in the BFam or by the adopters own needs.

I know that I certainly wouldn’t have considered adopting if I had anything less than my own children at the end of the process and I believe that children only have one set of parents (At a time).

Having said all that, my children have direct contact with their brother who is a couple of years older and in a children’s home with BM contact but I can’t consider ours an open adoption.

Not every adopted child comes from a background attuned to ongoing contact with BFam and I think many adopters views are influenced by their own circumstances.

Most adopters would find it hard to introduce children back to an abusive, criminal, dangerous environment. Many adoptions are about protection rather than coping.

Adopter’s thinking is also influenced by the approach of their children to adoption. For some there are no close family ties and for some the BFam has treated them in such a way that they never want to have anything to do with them or feel malevolent towards them.


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Hi Cheeseandcrackers


I just wanted to reiterate that adopters who are willing to continue ongoing direct contact with birth parents and birth siblings are not as rare as hens’ teeth! I’m an experienced adopter (9 years in with first child) and two years in with second and I have agreed to meet-ups with a birth parent of my youngest child twice a year as well as monthly direct contact with her older half siblings and their foster family. In fact, our two, new family units attended a panto together this Christmas (all 10 of us) and, for us, it was a really positive experience on Planet Adoption.


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Libertas I very much agree with your comment and think it is great that contact is working well for you. I have commented on these boards before about direct contact. In some parts of the U.K. (n.ireland) direct contact with birth parents has become almost the norm. There would have to be real security risks, or birth parents not wishing to engage in ongoing contact etc for some direct contact not to be specified in the adoption order (usually once or twice a year). Sibling contact is very much the norm. on the whole this is viewed positively by most parties but as with all things in life it is not right for everyone and is open for review and change. I have been shot down in the past for saying this but I will say it again anyway - a child having some sort of ongoing contact (it is not a relationship) with birth parents does not make them any less your child. You are still the parent but the contact is acknowledging that someone else in the past played that role in their life (even if that role was played very badly) and it gives the child a chance to discover a little of that identity. Some adoptive parents even say they find this contact affirming as it is to them the child looks to for security and comfort during it. They are the safe and nurturing care giving parents! It also dispels any myths in the child's mind about who their parents are. They can not keep them in a fairy tale pedestal.


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Hi Bakergirl and Happy New Year.


I remember your previous posts on the subject and applaud your commitment on this. I have always found N.Irish adopters of a similar mind too.


I really have reservations with it and have really tried hard to understand that point of view without success. It comes from our own experience of BFam's attempts to influence our children post adoption. Combine this with their two failed attempts to parent our children. (They were returned to them after successfully overturning a placement order and that ended with them being taken back into care more damaged). Why would I want to expose my children to these people. In fact the placing authority came to us partly because we lived so far away from the BFam.

The result is that our children do not want to have anything to do with them and their identity has little to do with them anyway. Identity is something that changes as your experience changes. It is not fixed on the day you were adopted. Identity is how you identify yourself not how others view you externally. If a child has no regard for their birth family in their identity, it is not for us to impose it on them.

We wouldn't suggest that divorced couples meet up every six months for the rest of their lives because their Ex was such as big part of their life that it must be the cornerstone of their identity so why would it be any different for adopted children.

Our children need to look forward and be positive about their future. Applying an anchor to a dysfunctional past cannot be positive. I think there is a fundamental problem with the threshold for adoption if BFams can be so closely involved in their former child's life into the future. Perhaps Special Guardianship is the future and adoption is only an option for the few special cases.


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I used to be very much in favour of maintaining links with birth family, especially with regards to demystifying birth Mum. However, having seen the damage that BM has done by not maintaining letterbox contact, and by sibling's guardian severing contact abruptly, I now find myself questioning whether postbox is really a good thing. I read Bubble wrapped children over Christmas and there are some very good points raised. Whilst contact may work for some children, I think there needs to be a much more balanced consideration of contact/letterbox which focusses much more on how beneficial it really is to children and also takes into consideration the risks where birth parents don't respond consistently or appropriately.


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Ford perfect I agree with your perspective as well. Like I said as in all things what is right in one circumstance is not right in others. I just feel that when I read these boards there is an overwhelming sense of ‘No’ to it. In N.Ireland there are children who do have direct contact and children who do not. Each circumstance is considered in its own right. Where is is appropriate it is put in place and when the child shows they no longer want it/need it or showing adverse reaction to it, it is stopped. It is not right in every case but where it is many have seen some benefits from it.


I also can see your point about SGO’s. Yes in some cases birth family most certainly reach the threshold for adoption and have inflicted horrendous damage to their children and a final severance of ties is important and right. However, in many cases birth parents can absolutely not parent their children safely to adulthood and therefore it is essential that these children get an opportunity to be part of a long term family with unconditional love but all ties do not need to be lost. Adoption can provide that long term stability but it does not need to mean the end of all ties. Special guardianship is another way of looking at it but i feel some work would need to be done to tighten those up and giving more post order support because at the moment I believe ongoing support for SGO’s is very limited.


Ultimately decisions have to be made for each individual child/children and each situation. It is up to each adoptive parent to do and advocate for what is right for them.


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We have SGO's and have had very little understanding and support as it is complicated.

Our girls have had contact with birth family members with some success as it counterbalanced the traits of the bps as we felt that they needed to know the positive genetic relatives and the girls had an attachment to them. They are both grown up now and have some facebook contact and casual contact but both are very wary of their bps still.

Certainly SGO's need overhauling with the choice of parents to accept support and financial help and links to either fostering or adoption teams.

I know we lost out on help when it was needed because the SGO had no status with school and social support teams.

Contact is something that needs to be tailored to each child.

Today I read again an article written by an adoptee in the October issue ( I think) of the magazine and she expressed very well her thoughts on family.

I have been a foster carer to children returning to family and pre adoption.

I have worked many years with children and teens in the Care System in Residential care.

We have brought up a birth daughter and a long-term foster child and it is her daughters we raised on SGO.

We have four little ones in the family now and it is still very much hands on because of circumstances where their mothers ( our girls) need support.

It has been a huge learning experience and I realise how much I do not know. I wish I did.

I read the posts of adopters and am humbled by the strength and commitment shown by posters. I have relied on the experience of others to help make decisions for our girls. It has helped that this boring as reflected a variety of family life.

Each family is so different and it would be wrong to perceive all as needing the same approach. Guidelines I can accept but I have seen huge problems develop when fixed ideas and structures are imposed on families.

We have been an unusual family and our 'second family' has had challenging times ..... many of them.

Perhaps because of social media and legal changes more families will share a journey closer to ours than it has been in the past.


Johanna


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Predictive text.....these boards have reflected variety ...do not mean boring.


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Some very interesting points made.

We adopted our older 2 children with letter box contact 2x a year. This was never kept by BM and only occasionally kept by their BF.however in their late teens they were traced by an older sibling who had been adopted before they were born. They saw him a few times but because they had not had any shares experiences growing up they didn't have a lot to talk about and it has faded to occasional Facebook contact.

There was a 7 year gap between our 2 adoptions and by the time we adopted our second sibling group the emphasis was more that adoption was about providing parents for children who needed parents who would love and care for them but would recognise that they had a history with another family some of whom might br important to them.

It helped us that we met their BD before they moved in with us . He consistently said he supported their adoption and that it was the hardest thing he ever had to do was to sign the adoptions papers. But he had the insight that he would not be able to change in what the courts say is "the timescale of the child " the children enjoyed his letters twice a year .helped by the fact that his football team and their football team were in the same division so lots of comments about football .when in their mid teens they asked to see him we were happy to support it and went with them to a family pub which had a pool table. There was always a social worker supporting the contact. When he died we went to his funeral and genuinely felt sorrow for his parting.


Points made about would you insist that a divorced couple saw each other despite domestic violence are relevant .But the emphasis of the family courts now is that children should be able to see both parents and build a relationship with the non resident parent. So child arrangement orders are made but include supervision of there is a need for support of the contact.

As someone pointed out there are many many different family set ups these days. More than 40%of children are living with either a single parent or a reconstituted family and many have step or half siblings.

At one point our youngest was one of only 8 children in his class living with 2 parents


I think it's helpful to think of the legal term GIllock competency. Which refers to the ability of a child to understand and make decisions about their lives . Contact with a non resident parent can change as a child gets to their early teens and decided they don't want to see their parent. Or they can decide they want to see their absent parent more.

What matters is that our children are kept safe but also given the support to build resilience and reflect on different relationships.

It's not something that can be legislated but involved lots of reflection and talking about what is best for the children .

Thank you again for your comments


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Steps you put very eliquently what is my view. Thank you, lots in what you say for me to ponder further on.


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