We asked several adoptive parents about their experience. They kindly shared their joys, their lives and challenges.

 

1.What is the gender of your adopted children and how old were they when they came to live with you?

a-My little boy was 10 1/2 months when he came to us and was in care from 2 days old. He’s amazing and has totally changed my life!

b-One Female, she came to me age 5, now 7.

c-She is 4 in Aug. She was 2 years and 4 months when she came to live with us

What do you most enjoy about adoption?

a- The thing I enjoy most about adopting is just the day to day stuff! For 10 years we didn’t think we could have children and now I have my son and when he just randomly tells me he loves me it means everything! I also love the moments when I can challenge people’s judgements. My son is the double of my husband so many people don’t think he’s adopted. And although I’m open with it, it’s not the first bit of info I share obviously. There have been many times where I have been criticised for not breast feeding or not doing antenatal classes and I can say well he’s adopted so I can’t. There are times I get to educate people on how amazing social workers can be or times I can be a real voice for my son and that is the most wonderful feeling.

b- I can’t say I enjoyed the adoption process! But I feel now that my family is complete. And I am happy I can give her a loving home

c- I wanted to be a parent, a mum. I had no desire to be pregnant. On reflection, I had come across adoption a fair bit in my life, although didn’t realise until the preparation work. Half my family are social workers, I’m a teacher and I’ve worked a lot with children in care.

3. What has been the biggest challenge?

a-bonding with her was a challenge. She rejected me and only wanted her dad even though I took 8 months off work to be with her. So just us during the day, but things are improving. Lockdown has helped.

 b-Behaviour breakdowns. We’ve had kicking, biting, broken bed, broken door, smashed things… so much. Also people who haven’t adopted just don’t understand quite often and there is so little awareness of attachment issues.

c- The two biggest challenges we had were people’s judgement and attachment. Our son was overly attached when he first came he couldn’t bare me or my husband to leave the room without him. Even so young he was scared we would leave him forever. This was exhausting and hard on family who just wanted to bond with him. He’s now the most loving child and has an amazing attachment with us and his family and it’s all thanks to the patience and love everyone showed him. No one pushed him to fast no one made him feel uncomfortable they just let him come to them. 

People can be so judgemental too. As soon as they find out my son is adopted they think he came from abuse or cruelty in some way which is not the case. Or they question my way of parenting forgetting that my son is adopted and needs to be treated differently. But I just stand my ground because I know what I’m doing is right by my son.

4. On occasions when your child is really upset/stressed what do you do to help them self-regulate/calm down?

a- She used to have a lot on tantrums. With my bio son, a hug helped but with our adopted daughter it didn’t. She didn’t want to be touched. Sometimes if I stayed in the same room she would scream more. We would give her space, like is she’s in the hallway, go in the living room or kitchen where we r out of sight but she can hear us until she calms down. Sometimes it would take 45 min. We had to learn new parenting techniques with her.

b- When my son has got to the point that he needs help to calm down, I take him in my arms and show him he’s safe. I talk softly and let him know that it’s not ok what he doing and what we should do instead. I sing to him (he’s always been obsessed with music) when he’s frustrated or just in one of those moods where he needs to self-regulate we normally find an activity that I know he enjoys that takes concentration and has a sensory aspect (e.g. cooking, play do, playing with his dolls hair slime etc.) this has worked wonders and if that doesn’t work then normally a nature walk will calm him too. It different for every child and I think every adoptive parent will find their own way with their child just like every “normal” parent does. When u know your child u will know how to help them calm and self-regulate.

c. Cuddle and contact. She likes cuddling up and I stroke her arm or her back.

d- She used to have a lot on tantrums. With my bio son, a hug helped but with our adopted daughter it didn’t. She didn’t want to be touched. Sometimes if I stayed in the same room she would scream more. We would give her space, like is she’s in the hallway, go in the living room or kitchen where we r out of sight but she can hear us until she calms down. Sometimes it would take 45 min. We had to learn new parenting techniques with her.

5. What is the most helpful piece of advice you have ever been given?

a- When my child was 2 he was going through a stage where he would give me all his anger. He would bite me hit me even if someone else had made him upset/mad he would find me and hurt me. I didn’t understand why until someone told me this. A child’s world is like a balloon. They love that balloon but they hold on tight to the string. They know the string holds the balloon to them. They also pull on the string not the balloon. A parent is the string that holds the child’s world to them and is the one that the child will pull and give the anger too. Because the string is always there. It’s safe to hold onto. Once I understood that I was able to get my boy to tell me what was wrong and why he was hurting me rather than focusing on the actual act of him hurting me.

b- It’s not all about adoption: e.g. some of the behaviours are perfectly normal for any child so don’t make adoption the focus of everything.

c- Not to take things personally

6. What would you say to someone considering adoption, if they were unsure if they could cope?

a- I’d say that adoption is not for everyone. The assessment process is hard and intrusive. Panel can be stressful. Then the rejections when trying to find a child. Then intros! They need to research and speak to a lot of people before doing it. We didn’t and found it hard. 

b- Read, read and read some more. Some

People say they want to give a child a nice home, or they want to save a child, or that there are so many unwanted children. I find these comments really unhelpful and quite offensive to foster carers, to birth parents and to the child themselves.

c- I would ask them how would they cope with a birth child? Any birth child can be born with issues. Just because you have a warning with adoption doesn’t mean it will be harder than a birth child. It just means that you have the time to prepare and get ready. When we were matched with our son we were told he had developmental delay and a high chance of autism. He couldn’t sit up at 10months and there were real concerns for him. We loved him regardless and he started crawling 2 weeks after he came home, and is now hitting every milestone. Becoming a parent is full of uncertainty, and that is what you need to be able to cope with. As long as you can love a child you can cope with anything.

7. What do you feel most nervous about?

a- My little boy is 3 years old and obsessed with frozen. He loves Elsa and wants to dress as her and be her when he grows up. And I let him wear the dresses I let him be him. He doesn’t care what other people say about him and he loves being him. I think if you show your child how proud you are of them being them it will let their confidence grow. He has his shy moments when meeting new people, but I just let him know I’m there and it takes about 5 – 10 minutes and he’s off singing again lol! Just be proud of who they are, show them you love them and their confidence will shine through.

b. I am single and I’m most nervous about dying. Death doesn’t scare me in the main but I am so worried about dying early and leaving her alone again, although she has a big family so she would be well looked after.

Diversity Adopt provides services to adopters including the training, tools and strategies to feel more confident being assessed and in the care of their new son or daughter(s).

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON OUR ADOPTION PREPARATION COURSE

GIVE YOURSELF THE BEST START TO ADOPTING’.

THIS COURSE GIVES SOCIALLY AWARE ADOPTERS THE TRAINING, TOOLS AND STRATEGIES TO BE MORE CONFIDENT DURING THEIR ASSESSMENT. STUDENTS WILL FEEL MORE PREPARED TO NUTURE CONFIDENT, SOCIAL AND HEALTHY ADOPTED CHILDREN INTO SUCCESSFUL ADULTS.

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