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Wanting to adopt, but have worries..

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Hi all, my wife and I are very keen to adopt and have been for a long while, we both have worries however (not about the actual adoption, it's about myself) that you may be able to answer - hopefully at least. It has put us off applying, so I want a down to earth honest opinion on your experiences with these things, before we set our hearts on it.


First worry: I have bad physical health (Fibromyalgia) and it causes a great deal of pain so I can be relatively active but not much, however I can offer so much love and security to a child that may not have had it previously. I can be there emotionally for them, whereas my wife could handle the active side of things along with emotional. I think we'd make a great team personally, but I'm worried an adoption agency will not see it that way. Is it possible they would just dismiss me straight away for this? I walk with a walking stick as my pain is so severe, but surely that can't stop me from raising a child? I understand you need to be healthy etc, but my wife can manage the active side of things like running around and so on. I can play with their toys with them, I can read to them, I can teach them, I can do everything a 'normal' parent could but I just can't run around a park with them, which my wife can do. So basically I'm asking, will that stop me/us from adopting?


Second worry: I have had poor mental health in the past - right now it's the best it's ever been thanks to self help through DBT, medication and counselling. In my early teens I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, Borderline personality disorder and post traumatic stress disorder. In the here and now however, my anxiety is down to a 'normal' level, that meaning the anxiety an average person would face on a day to day basis. I am no longer depressed, yes I get moments where I feel down but not to the extreme that it was before. The PTSD no longer affects me as I have dealt with the trauma I went through. Without going into too much detail, I had a traumatic childhood at the hands of my father (who is no longer in my life and never will be again) however I feel I can use this to my advantage, meaning that I will understand partially what this child/children has been through and can offer support accordingly. I will 'get' where they are at and I feel like I could use this as life experience for them. The borderline personality disorder is very well managed now, again through medication and DBT. I do not get mood swings anymore at all. Now the worry here is :

1. Medication? Will they dismiss me due to the fact I take 15mg of a mental health medication (it's an antipsychotic but not used for that, it was used to manage my moods from the borderline personality disorder in my late teens (17-18 and I'm now 25) Yes, I still take it, but I would much rather that than to go back to how I was.

2. Will the fact I've had an abusive childhood thanks to my father affect the process? I'm worried they might think it will drag up the trauma from childhood - which it won't as I have dealt with it through therapy.

3. Will the fact I've had a diagnosis of depression, PTSD, anxiety & BPD affect the process? I am so concerned about this. I don't think it would affect my ability to parent at all, I really don't. I think it would add to life experience that I can relate to a child on an emotional level. Along with the fact I have been stable for 4 or 5 years now.


Third worry: Weight, my weight isn't overly healthy at the moment, I have however lost 3 stone 4 lbs in the last 6 months, and I intend to continue. As it stands I weigh around 20stone. I read somewhere (I can't think where right now) that weight can affect your ability to adopt? Is that true?


Fourth worry: I am on benefits as I am unwell with the Fibromyalgia and cannot work, will this affect our application? Do you -have- to be working? We have a relatively good income due to my illness, enough to maintain a family on, I just don't know if this will affect it.


I think thats all of our concerns. I know when you read it, it probably sounds awful, but the point is I have taken/I am taking steps to change these things. Yes, my physical health can't be changed, my weight however can and I am making sure I keep up with the weight loss. Mental health, yes can't be changed but I am managing so much better than I have done through my teens in this past 4 or 5 years and I continually improve and seek help if and when needed. The point is, we can offer so much to a child that has previously had bad experiences, we can be such good parents. However, I really don't want to set our hearts on this if it simply cannot be.


Thank you if you managed to get through this, I know it's a long read.


Two hopeful mummys


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You've clearly been thinking everything through and in reality the only way to find out is to speak to some agencies. Everyone has different past experiences and it's not until sw starts to discuss them with you that you find out which ones they want to explore more. It's positive you are being proactive about the weight loss as it is one thing you can have most control over, the fact you've had therapy to support your past shows you've acknowledged and addressed the issues but only by discussing in detail will a sw make a decision as to if now is the right time to proceed. Many people are asked to address things before proceeding further and also not everyone proceeds with the first agency they approach, make sure you feel you can work with them, you will be spending a lot of time together!


Just be prepared to have everything scrutinised and be on an emotional roller coaster, the process will challenge you like you've never been challenged before but you won't know how you'll respond until you make the first call. Good luck with the next stage of your journey.


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Hey there Sunshine,


Thank you so much for such a quick response! We really have been thinking about every detail, and genuinely feel as though we have so much to offer a child, practically as well as emotionally. For example we have 3 bed house, 3rd bedroom is a box room admittedly but it's only a storage room but 2nd bedroom would be perfect as its really big. We have a very large garden so plenty of space to play etc. We have a dog and cat, which I am a little worried about with the dog as I fear she may get a bit jealous but we have been discussing contingency plans. First: introduce child & pet slowly through a safety gate. Second: Give dog plenty of alone time for her own sanity, i.e. in the kitchen or outside. Thirdly: If all else fails, and as much as it would break my heart, rehome her. I would put the childs needs above all else.


I have another question, I've been researching different agencies for a while, but I'm getting a little confused. Is a VAA the same as any other agency or are they all VAA's?


I just feel that we've hit a time where we are just ready. So I think I will contact an agency tomorrow for some advice on the things I've mentioned here. Like you say, we've thought it through, for a long time, so I think we are in the right position to make the jump into the first phonecall.


Thank you so much for your kind words,


K.


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VAA’s are voluntary adoption agencies. Places like Barnardos, Nch action etc

LAs are local authorities. Social care services, government things.


You could apply to the LA where you live or nearby, they will come and assess you at a basic level (level1) and go and think ah we have a child that really needs 2 mums with your attributes. They will take you to level 2 and onwards.


If you go to a VA they are generally more geared to looking at the whole picture and generally better at post adoption support.

They don’t have any children to place, instead they would put you through the process and look at children available for adoption far and wide. Often placing slightly older children than la’s but that’s not always the case


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Hiya Pear Tree,


Ah! I see I understand now, thank you for explaining that. I'm currently looking at Adoption Matters' website. I haven't come across this one yet but they sound fantastic. I've been reading their info packs and sounds like one that we could get on board with, so to speak.


Do you or anyone else have experience of this agency? Smile


Thank you for replying!


K.


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Not directly but I’ve seen them at several events and they seem pretty good.


Wherever you apply to- they’ll want to know lists of details and that’s draining!

Weight wise, yep they’ll want you to get that down as much as possible and they’ll be impressed that you’ve lost what you have.

I think you might need to revise the thinking around what’s likely to be triggered in you and perhaps your families with a traumatised child in your midst. I didn’t have the easiest of childhoods. The thing is I was relatively ok. For my rather dysfunctional family it threw up and continues to throw up massive stuff. Really, secondary trauma whacks you at the weakest point. In our case dh has the mental health clout and I have the physical health whallop

The thing is, coping with it when it comes. Think about this. What are the ways you could show your support networks getting you through? What practical plans could be put in when you really cannot move and your wife is buckling under the strain?

Online support is really vital these days. So that’s one thing. Maybe Positive mental health walks you go on. Your wife and you have a date night each month. You get lots of friendly support from the 2 local adoptive families, quick mental health nurse response if needs be etc think what you could put.


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That's superb advice thank you so much.


We have been discussing our support networks for the past month or so, including tonight. Luckily for us, where we live all my other halfs family (well, more or less) live on the same estate. Father and brother round the corner, Aunty literally next door to him, Cousin 3 doors down, another cousin 9 doors up and an aunty 3 doors round from that. Funny you mentioned a date night! We've been discussing the fact that we would need time to ourselves too tonight as well, So we have been discussing the wifes brother and partner and how good they are with kids, so once the child/ren is used to the family we will have plenty of support from them. I have been wondering about the mental health support. I was discharged from the community mental health teams as I've been doing so well. So I'm thinking a good plan in place with my GP would be in order - just in case. Online support is great too, as you said.


You've given me food for thought, so thank you. This site is amazing, as are all you guys!


K.


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My other half also had a history of abuse as a child.

What any reviewing agency is concerned about is how you have overcome your difficulties, the nature of your resilience and how you have prepared yourself emotionally and mentally for adoption.

Parenting a child is hard. Parenting one from a background of trauma is doubly hard. All your own traumas might very well be retriggered...so the best thing is to do your own research and think deeply about your own resilience. What might be though of as a weakness might very well turn out to be viewed as a strength. That certainly happened in our case.


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Hey Fargum,


That makes sense, I personally feel stronger than I ever have emotionally. However I will mull over what you have said and try to go through every scenario in my head.


I think I will make an appointment with my GP too (probably this week) to make sure she would 100% support us with this and could possibly offer more advice. Im pretty sure she'll support us, but its just one thing of the tick list if I check.


Thank you for that. I am seriously so grateful for all of your replies.


K.


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Also, when it comes to assessment, don’t see it as an interrogation, but an opportunity to explore and reflect in a supportive environment.

We were a bit fearful at first, but as things unfolded the whole thing became quite enjoyable. It was the matching process that followed that we found difficult.


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Oh I never thought of it in that light, I am/was so scared that it would feel like an interrogation, but you have really put my mind at ease.


I can imagine that the matching process is extremely difficult. Although it all sounds a bit daunting we are both so excited to start, but like I said initially, I'm wary about setting our hearts too much on this if it can't be, so I'm going to ring an agency today - just to make sure beforehand. Then definitely go from there.


Thank you again Fargum.


K.


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Ok let me be blunt, don’t worry, bluntness is my thing.

Your wife needs to be put forward as primary carer if you stand any chance of getting through the medical/psychological assessment. My wife was the same weight as you when we adopted and they put that aside as I was primary carer.

Also, you are in an excited state of euphoria right now driven by your motivation to have a child. This is good for your mental health and is pumping the good hormones around your body. Once a traumatised child moves in and the reality drops on you like a lead balloon, you will find the daily pressures of just functioning can overwhelm you.

I’m the product of a relatively loving and supportive family and have no mental health issues but there have been times when my fight or flight reflex has left me thinking, “I have the means to be 1000 miles away by morning”.

Support from family can also be a fleeting thing and it really isn’t to do with babysitting. The support network for your wellbeing is paramount, you need to be sure that is in place and unknockable before you even think about applying. It will be one of the first things they ask.

Finally, if you are being cared for physically in any way by your wife because of your condition, many agencies will consider you to be a dependant. Be prepared to rebut that as it will be taken into account when looking at the demands having an adopted child will place on the family.


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I want to point out that 25 is very young to adopt! As all is well now I would make a plan with the dr. to reduce than stop medication, you write you 'won't go back' to the stage you were in, but if all trauma is delt with why would it return? This might take some time, in that time you can sort out the overweight as well.

Do not underestimate the strains a traumatised child will put on your wellbeing and the relationship you have, not only with your partner also with your support network. Yes they might like the plan right now but will they also after the child is not listening or rejecting you or mean to nephew Jimmy?

Reading about parenting an adopted child is very different than living it, and than I mean long term, not the first few years.


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it is positive you could identify with needs of a child due to your early experiences.

adopting can be a very difficult road to take and how would you cope with your health issues as it could impact big time on them. many of us had no health issues in the beginning but ended up suffering with poor health related to the stress and strains of looking after their children. your wife could also be affected with ill health.

You might identify your support systems but often if the going gets tough those people fade away.

explore adoption and see if it right for you but don't underestimate the toll it can have on you . You don't always get a happy ever after the children are more damaged the SW let on, they find their way back to their birth families .your home could be repeatedly damaged-doors and windows broken or your life could be threatened .

good luck but be very prepared.


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Hey there Ford & Pluto,


Thank you for your replies, I've been mulling them over since you posted them.


Ford I will reply to yours first otherwise I'll get confused haha. That all makes sense and I wholeheartedly agree with it. Regarding my weight, it is coming down slowly, I spoke to an agency sw this morning just to ask some questions (the ones I have mentioned here) and she said that as long as I can prove that I'm committed to losing more weight (slimming world, exercise etc) then that will be fine. I think you are 100% right though that my wife would have to be primary carer.


I spoke to her about the mental health side and she literally said the same as you, when a traumatised child moves in they need to know that I can cope with the pressures and have plans in place, i.e. support networks, GP etc. I can imagine it is extremely hard work having a child, especially one with trauma, but (and maybe I am seeing through rose tinted glasses here) I feel that it would be extremely rewarding to look after one or more of these children.


Thank you for being honest about the fight or flight side of the emotions. I think I would be resiliant enough to be able to cope, but I would do a lot of research etc and obviously discuss it with sw's before proceeding beforehand. I feel more confident now than I ever have about myself, life and adoption.


I totally get what you are saying regarding support. I might have been a bit quick to type before when I mentioned babysitting etc, that wasn't what I meant. I just know my wifes side of the family are amazing and they will be fully supportive. I think though that we will discuss it with nearest and dearest (meaning my father in law and brother in law) more so over the next few days/weeks.


About the caring side that my wife does for me, it's literally just things such as opening jars and brushing my hair as it's really long at the moment and I can't reach, but I'm getting that cut so that it won't be a problem anymore. Would that make me be considered as a dependant? I can understand that some people may consider me as that, however I can manage the vast majority of things by myself. So I'm a bit unsure as to what to say about that?


Pluto, over to you, I/we understand that 25 & 26 are relatively young ages to adopt, but we've wanted to adopt for a long while now. We've been taking steps to help our chances of it succeeding, such as finding a nice house with 3 bedrooms and a big garden (we've lived here for a year and 6 months now). However, reading your comment about the medication has struck a chord with me. I forgot to mention I have completely stopped one of my mental health meds, that one was to help to manage my crippling anxiety through my teens. I feel a lot more human for it, so it may well be worth a go at reducing my aripiprazole. I think I will definitely discuss this with the GP. You make a valid point, I dealt with my trauma, so why am I worried? Maybe it's because I've been on the aripiprazole for 7 years? I managed to come off the other one though so I would have thought I would be able to come off this one. Plus this medication makes you put on weight, so that would be another plus of coming off it. I suppose it's trial and error.


That's a very good point about relationships. I think I will have to delve into this issue further with family members as I mentioned before.


I understand that it must be so different to reading about it, is there any chance you (or anyone) could give me an honest outline of what daily life is like with an adopted child/ren please? Or point me to a post that does please? Smile


Also I have a question that might be stupid but I'll ask anyway, is it worth me sending in a general enquiry form to an agency to arrange an informal visit? I was thinking that in that visit we could discuss these issues further and where I/we would stand currently. Or would that affect our chances negatively at the moment?


Thank you both for such honest replies. It's really appreciated.


K.


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Oops sorry Amh! Must have sent at the same time!


Thank you, that is really good advice. I agree my early experiences would help a lot to relate. I really appreciate your honesty though, I suppose it's the darker side of adoption that people don't see that you are talking about.


I'm prepared to take those risks regarding damaged doors etc, I agree though we need to delve into it further.


Thank you again.


K.


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Hi and welcome.


Wanted to pick up on something you said. Adoption is extremely rewarding. Well, yes it can at some point but when you’re in the middle of all the trauma, the stress, anxiety, worry, constant battles with the myriad of professionals who will be involved ... well rewarding isn’t the first adjective to spring to mind. Frustrating. Exhausting. Stressful. Life changing and in ways that aren’t always at first glance positive. We’re now many years into our three adoptions and we’ve had many, many battles - schools, diagnoses, statementing, ignorant professionals etc. Now with a lot of that stuff behind us and I can see my children growing, maturing and blossoming ... now I can say it’s rewarding! But as I say we’re ranging from 12 years upwards.


A typical day here would be different to someone else’s. We don’t have to deal with violence any longer. My children are all happy in school so we don’t have those stressors. Two with autism makes life interesting at times. Challenging at times. I guess the only typical thing about each day is that I will struggle to get middly out of bed, struggle to get him into clothes, struggle to get him out of the door. Struggle to get him in the bath. Ditto out of the bath. Ditto into bed and asleep. But that’s just a pretty regular, stress free day because we’re used to it now.


Read as much as you can. Try not to make assumptions. Think about what you gain vs what a child loses. Think about the backgrounds that children come from. It’s not just trauma - genetic inheritance, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, poor mental health, diagnosed or undiagnosed Asd, adhd etc.


I’m very glad that we adopted our three but it’s been very hard. I’ve not been able to return to work - not uncommon. Finances can be tough. Relationships struggle. My children are brilliant and resilient but it hasn’t been easy on any of us.


And Support networks. Hmm. Have a tendency to disappear once a child’s needs become apparent.


Good luck


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Hi hopeful parent. I hope this doesn't sound to negative, just something that is really important to have thought through. One thing that stands out for me is who is going to support your wife, both practically and emotionally when you're having a bad/unwell day/week/month, your child is having a bad day/week/month/year and she is running on empty. I do feel such a lot is going to fall on her and it will be something that SW pick upon very quickly (I hope I've not missed someone else pointing this out). It's going to be a long tough road ahead, and if your fibromyalgia is related to stress in any way, it will be triggered, so you are likely to need more down time than you anticipate. I can see that you are approaching this as a team, which is fantastic, but your wife will carry a huge load and her own self care and support will need to be very well built in. As others have said, it's amazing how your support network can disappear once you have adopted and they realise what they have to deal with.


Good luck. Reading your post and considering your young age, I wondered about whether it might be an idea to get some experience in providing respite for kids who are fostered or who have some form of additional needs? It would stand you in very good stead and give you both a taste of parenting as the team that you so obviously are. xx


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Hi Hopeful Parents


I remember being told by a social worker that my experiences as a child and young person would enable me to empathise with a child who has been unable to stay with their birth parents. There is truth in that, but it was a very naive thing to say. This was from a very experienced social worker...but she had never lived with a traumatised child!!


As someone else has said above you truly cannot imagine what life will be like once a child is placed with you, you can only live it.


In our case we already had 3 birth children (not all 'straightforward') and had been married for over 20 years. I had been a stay at home Mum for many years and that worked for us and was what we were used to financially. In short there were some things that we had already got used to and coped with so it wasn't going to be as much of a shock to the system as it is perhaps for some adopters.


Our child was placed in May and 6 months later I was on anti-depressants for the first time ever. I had had episodes of depression before and had visited GP on one occasion but got through it with 'self help'. This came up during home study and medical and wasn't seen as an unsurmountable problem (and it wasn't!)


I had had counselling over many years and had addressed the issues arising from my childhood, but living with a traumatised child (and their birth family in the background...see some of the posts about letterbox and contact) is tough. Our child's birth mother asked for permission to oppose the adoption and I think it was that that triggered the depression (straw that broke the camel's back) We were all geared up to hear that adoption order had gone through and the phone call we were expecting was several hours late. Social worker was shaken up by BM's unexpected appearance in court (intimidation was her thing) and had to calm down before breaking the news to us.


Let us know how it goes.


Oh and another thing you may want to consider is one child versus more than one (lots of discussion on that on the boards). Personally I would recommend only one Smile


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