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Soon-to-be Adoptive Father

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

Hello.

 

I posted a general introduction, but I thought I should post a thread here as well. I'm about to become an adoptive parent, actually I'm picking up my boys from the foster home tomorrow! At this point, if time were moving any slower, all the clocks would be running backward. Lol.

 

I've always wanted to adopt older special needs children and started the process last April when I realized the godson I'd raised for nearly two years would soon be going off to college. After several failed matches, I was matched with 11yo twin boys in December. We've been visiting and preparing for transition for the last month. Both boys have emotional special needs, as you'd expect for children this age coming out of the foster care system. At this point, I've researched both the generalities of older child adoption and these boys' specific histories to the point of exhaustion, and really feel I'm as prepared as anyone in my position can be. I've come to care for both Casey* and Devin* a great deal during our visits and they at least claim to like me and want to come live with me, which is a start.

 

I want to join the community here because you all seem much more positive than my local adoption support group or the other adoption support groups I've found online. I am honestly tired of people predicting worst-case scenarios based solely on the twins' age. I'm not naive and turned down earlier matches because I believed the children were beyond my (and perhaps anyone's) ability to help. Obviously I believe Casey and Devin are different.

 

Anyway, I'm greatly looking forward to getting to know you all and sharing our journeys through this unique type of parenting.

 

*not the boys' real names, as I want to preserve our anonymity. One of them may want to run for president one day, after all. wink1.gif


Edited by ForeverFather - 2/3/12 at 1:16pm
post #2 of 21

Welcome!  I hope the early days of your placement goes well. MDC is a great place for parenting support.

post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thank you, mom31. I'm extremely nervous, which hopefully is normal!

post #4 of 21

I am sure it is.  :)

post #5 of 21

Wecome smile.gif

This is a very exciting time!  And today is the big day joy.gif

 

Are you a single parent?  I ask because it is sooooo important that you have a plan to take care of yourself.  Your boys may have a really smooth transition, and everything may be fine.  But you also may find yourself really needing a break!  We spend so much time planning for our kids, but

not so much for ourselves!

 

Wishing you a wonderful day and and lots of fun with our new boys.  Keep up posted!

post #6 of 21

I agree. Enjoy the early time and keep your eyes wide open.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pumpkingirl71 View Post

Wecome smile.gif

This is a very exciting time!  And today is the big day joy.gif

 

Are you a single parent?  I ask because it is sooooo important that you have a plan to take care of yourself.  Your boys may have a really smooth transition, and everything may be fine.  But you also may find yourself really needing a break!  We spend so much time planning for our kids, but

not so much for ourselves!

 

Wishing you a wonderful day and and lots of fun with our new boys.  Keep up posted!



 

post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pumpkingirl71 View Post

Wecome smile.gif

This is a very exciting time!  And today is the big day joy.gif

 

Are you a single parent?  I ask because it is sooooo important that you have a plan to take care of yourself.  Your boys may have a really smooth transition, and everything may be fine.  But you also may find yourself really needing a break!  We spend so much time planning for our kids, but

not so much for ourselves!

 

Wishing you a wonderful day and and lots of fun with our new boys.  Keep up posted!

Thank you, pumpkingirl. smile.gif Yes, I am a single parent. I do have several friends who've offered to help me out if I need it, including my downstairs neighbor and another woman I intend to name as the boys' godmother once the adoption is finalized. Since I'm lacking much in the way of family, I had to go to some fair lengths to prove my support system during the home study. You're right that I would've completely neglected this if it hadn't been for the home study forcing me to think about it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Polliwog View Post

I agree. Enjoy the early time and keep your eyes wide open.

It's impossible not to enjoy time with Casey and Devin. They've been around me enough to overcome their natural shyness and they're truly delightful. They're also incredibly self-sufficient. I hadn't realized just how self-sufficient until they were actually here. They do things like cleaning the kitchen and putting their things away before I can even ask. It has always been my plan to watch them like I would a 2yo until I'm completely sure of their behavior, and I'm going to follow that plan, even though I feel a little silly doing it.

 

The whole arrival really went so smoothly it's a little surreal. I had to move Devin's bed into Casey's room because they wanted to be together (their incredible bond probably warrants its own thread), but otherwise it was like having a couple of students over for dinner. Ah, well, one thing I know is to appreciate harmony when it exists because it never lasts for long. Lol.

post #8 of 21

Just make sure that things aren't "too easy." And that the kids aren't trying "too hard" to make you like them. Especially since you've never fostered before. It's too easy to fall into the "everything's wonderful" trap and be blindsided when the honeymoon period is over. I want things to go well for you but so many things can happen. And have happened, even to posters in this forum.

 

Do you post over at fosterparents.com? It's a great forum for foster parents and people who've adopted children through the foster care system. A little gritty at times, well much of the time, but a great resource.

post #9 of 21

Welcome to the board! I'm also a single parent, although i never had much luck getting matched with a "straight adopt" situation, therefore i became a foster parent and was able to adopt three kids that way.
 

Quote:

 

I want to join the community here because you all seem much more positive than my local adoption support group or the other adoption support groups I've found online. I am honestly tired of people predicting worst-case scenarios based solely on the twins' age. I'm not naive and turned down earlier matches because I believed the children were beyond my (and perhaps anyone's) ability to help. Obviously I believe Casey and Devin are different.



I wanted to comment on this although I'm not quite sure I can put what i want to say in a way that won't come off as "negative." Before I adopted a child, I was positive and enthusiastic, and really thought i knew about all the issues i could face. There were children whose child assessments i read that i knew i couldnt parent, kids with big issues. I knew my limits. I thought i knew a "red flag" when i saw it. I knew all about honeymoon periods and providing structure and all that. I read all the good adoption books by authors like Gray and Keck and Hughes. I read Love and Logic front and back and thought i had a handle on creative ways to discipline a new kid. I dismissed any warnings about birth order or older kids or any of that. Those angry adoptive parents! They obviously just werent prepared! or maybe their kids were extreme, and surely i'd be able to screen out kids like THAT.

 

Then my daughter moved in.

 

She is the bio sister of the boy i had as a foster child and was adopting, and once TPR went through the plan was for me to adopt them both. She was 7 when i met her, 8 when she moved in, now almost 10 years old. I saw her every week during bio parent visits for about 8 months or longer. She spent ten whole days with me over spring break and then every weekend for a couple months until school got out. Sure i saw "behaviors" but i used my trusty Love and Logic stuff and what i learned in Parenting the Hurt Child and felt i really knew what i was doing. Her only diagnosis was ADHD. But then she moved in. And i saw the lying, the irritating behaviors, the manipulation, the 1/2 hour long screaming tantrums, the weird food issues. Oh, and she was so nice to the younger boys (who were 2 when she moved in) during visits, but after she moved in i could not go to the bathroom without her instigating something with one of them (the one not bio related to her, so in her eyes not her "real brother")...he actually started biting after she came because she would get in his face, tease him, snatch toys, exclude him from play with her and the other brother. It was awful. I felt this intense Mama Bear reaction to protect my vulnerable child against this big kid who could be so sneaky and mean. We had a couple instances of inappropriate sexual stuff with a kid we knew (just "flashing" of private parts but it made me nervous) so for months i had to watch her closely around kids her age (which is easier said than done!) She begged, constantly. She lied about everything.

 

NONE of this was disclosed in paperwork. Clearly she has some level of attachment disorder (and i also suspect possible fetal alcohol issues) but nowhere is that even suggested. It was only after i got her true history from someone involved in her case (but not with my agency) that laid out the whole case from the beginning did i get a sense of the neglect she may have suffered (emotional neglect, living from home to home) but not even the prior foster parent told me the real deal. I thought that foster parent seemed a little crazy, mean, too hard on my daughter, overly negative. (BIG red flags for a kid with big issues, if the caregiver seems to be the one with the problem, but i didnt "see" it at the time!) The months from when she moved in until she was properly medicated was h.e.l.l! (and this is a kid that *doesnt* hurt animals or people, smear feces, get violent, hoard food, set fires, etc....i never realized a child could IRRITATE you into near-insanity!) It was SO awful, that even though many of her behaviors are reduced or no longer an issue I feel so traumatized by the first six months that i never want to go back to that and its changed the way i parent her. I'm a worse parent when she's here, not just to her but to the little boys too. I now understand why people disrupt adoptions, whereas before i couldnt imagine how someone could be so "heartless" greensad.gif

 

So yeah, now i'm that mom on an email list, when someone talks glowingly about the child they were just matched with, who tries to provide a bit of a heads up. Not too long ago a parent got really offended by people pointing out the red flags, we just didnt understand, HER child would be different. She even came back to the list later to say "see, he's moved in now and he IS wonderful! Not at all what you warned about!" but it turns out the child had lived with her for like a week or something. You can't tell in a week. or a month. Maybe six months. Maybe a year. The social workers, teachers, neighbors who know my daughter think she is sweet, and wonderful, and friendly and adorable. She can be. But really they have no idea. And now *I* am the mean mom who seems so angry and negative with my "sweet" child. I guess i just want to give you a framework for WHY people might be so negative with you. Because you can claim your kids "arent like that" all you want, but you wont know....until you know. And by that time, you're in it and there isnt much to be done but manage it. And i know when i've been on lists and someone who HASNT "been there" or even adopted yet tries to tell people who HAVE that it wont be like that, my kid is different, you're too negative...well it just seems alot like yeah we remember having those happy glasses on. We used to be there too. And now we're....not there. Some people have had their families nearly destroyed by a "bad match" and its hard to fault them for putting out a warning to others.

 

So....that was not the positive stuff you're probably looking for. But its my life. I dont post too much about what we go through, because frankly the best support i get in parenting my daughter is another mother parenting a daughter who is just the same. I can tell her about my worst parenting moments and know i wont be judged because she's been there too. And because i know she is a sane parent and a good mother, it confirms for me that i am too, and that its not ME, its the child's issues.

 

You're boys sound like they will be a lot of fun, and i do hope that you wont run into too many major issues. But if you DO, please feel free to come here and be negative and vent.

post #10 of 21

I guess i should add that the main reason i try to tell people to be careful and keep their eyes wide open is that being blindsided was so much worse for me. Had i gone into it prepared, with attachment therapy set up and boundaries in place I think i'd be in a much better place now with my daughter.

post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Polliwog View Post

Just make sure that things aren't "too easy." And that the kids aren't trying "too hard" to make you like them. Especially since you've never fostered before. It's too easy to fall into the "everything's wonderful" trap and be blindsided when the honeymoon period is over. I want things to go well for you but so many things can happen. And have happened, even to posters in this forum.

 

Do you post over at fosterparents.com? It's a great forum for foster parents and people who've adopted children through the foster care system. A little gritty at times, well much of the time, but a great resource.

The boys are definitely trying too hard to make me like them right now. I know they're not showing their "real selves". In fact, they showed me more of their real personalities during our first few meetings, before they decided they actually wanted to live with me. It's definitely hard to find a balance between keeping a positive attitude and being realistic. I approached everything very intellectually until the last week or two. Then it started to feel real and I started feeling guilty for assuming/preparing for the worst. I can no longer imagine Casey or Devin doing some of the things I originally expected/prepared for.

 

I will check out the forum you listed. It didn't come up on any of my searches, I suppose because I was using 'adoption' as a keyword instead of fostering.
 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by queenjane View Post

I guess i should add that the main reason i try to tell people to be careful and keep their eyes wide open is that being blindsided was so much worse for me. Had i gone into it prepared, with attachment therapy set up and boundaries in place I think i'd be in a much better place now with my daughter.

Queenjane, I appreciate you sharing your story and I'm very sorry that you weren't told the whole truth about the depth of your daughter's problems. I had a social worker blowing sunshine up my butt too, though the boys' teachers were a whole lot more honest. I'm still debating how honest their foster mother was—she had good incentive to lie. Reading back, my earlier posts really did sound kind of naive. I blame it on the excitement of the boys finally moving in.

 

I've spent a lot of time "preparing for the worst". I've definitely learned more about psychology than I ever wanted to know and already made appointments with an attachment therapist and a trauma therapist (though they're not until the end of the month because I wanted the boys to settle in first). I know both Casey and Devin have had some major behavioral issues, and Casey's "adjustment disorder" looks more like clinical depression to me. But I certainly believe they can be helped and go on to be relatively happy and well-adjusted someday.

 

I don't know if it's possible to emotionally prepare for the sort of experience you've been through, honestly. Until last week I believed it was, but I wasn't counting on coming to care about them so deeply and so quickly. Most people said it would "take time for them to feel like they were mine", but that's not how it's working. I really missed them all last week and when I picked them up it absolutely felt like I was retrieving my own long-lost children.

 

I'm glad to know I have a place to come and talk where people will hopefully understand, though.

post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Polliwog View Post

Just make sure that things aren't "too easy." And that the kids aren't trying "too hard" to make you like them. Especially since you've never fostered before. It's too easy to fall into the "everything's wonderful" trap and be blindsided when the honeymoon period is over. I want things to go well for you but so many things can happen. And have happened, even to posters in this forum.

 

Do you post over at fosterparents.com? It's a great forum for foster parents and people who've adopted children through the foster care system. A little gritty at times, well much of the time, but a great resource.

The boys are definitely trying too hard to make me like them right now. I know they're not showing their "real selves". In fact, they showed me more of their real personalities during our first few meetings, before they decided they actually wanted to live with me. It's definitely hard to find a balance between keeping a positive attitude and being realistic. I approached everything very intellectually until the last week or two. Then it started to feel real and I started feeling guilty for assuming/preparing for the worst. I can no longer imagine Casey or Devin doing some of the things I originally expected/prepared for.

 

I will check out the forum you listed. It didn't come up on any of my searches, I suppose because I was using 'adoption' as a keyword instead of fostering.
 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by queenjane View Post

I guess i should add that the main reason i try to tell people to be careful and keep their eyes wide open is that being blindsided was so much worse for me. Had i gone into it prepared, with attachment therapy set up and boundaries in place I think i'd be in a much better place now with my daughter.

Queenjane, I appreciate you sharing your story and I'm very sorry that you weren't told the whole truth about the depth of your daughter's problems. I had a social worker blowing sunshine up my butt too, though the boys' teachers were a whole lot more honest. I'm still debating how honest their foster mother was—she had good incentive to lie. Reading back, my earlier posts really did sound kind of naive. I blame it on the excitement of the boys finally moving in.

 

I've spent a lot of time "preparing for the worst". I've definitely learned more about psychology than I ever wanted to know and already made appointments with an attachment therapist and a trauma therapist (though they're not until the end of the month because I wanted the boys to settle in first). I know both Casey and Devin have had some major behavioral issues, and Casey's "adjustment disorder" looks more like clinical depression to me. But I certainly believe they can be helped and go on to be relatively happy and well-adjusted someday.

 

I don't know if it's possible to emotionally prepare for the sort of experience you've been through, honestly. Until last week I believed it was, but I wasn't counting on coming to care about them so deeply and so quickly. Most people said it would "take time for them to feel like they were mine", but that's not how it's working. I really missed them all last week and when I picked them up it absolutely felt like I was retrieving my own long-lost children.

 

I'm glad to know I have a place to come and talk where people will hopefully understand, though.

post #13 of 21
Thread Starter 

Polliwog, the boys are definitely trying too hard to make me like them right now. I know they're not showing their "real selves". In fact, they showed me more of their real personalities during our first few meetings, before they decided they actually wanted to live with me. It's definitely hard to find a balance between keeping a positive attitude and being realistic. I approached everything very intellectually until the last week or two. Then it started to feel real and I started feeling guilty for assuming/preparing for the worst. I can no longer imagine Casey or Devin doing some of the things I originally expected/prepared for.

I will check out the forum you listed. It didn't come up on any of my searches, I suppose because I was using 'adoption' as a keyword instead of fostering.


 


Queenjane, I appreciate you sharing your story and I'm very sorry that you weren't told the whole truth about the depth of your daughter's problems. I had a social worker blowing sunshine up my butt too, though the boys' teachers were a whole lot more honest. I'm still debating how honest their foster mother was—she had good incentive to lie. Reading back, my earlier posts really did sound kind of naive. I blame it on the excitement of the boys finally moving in.

I've spent a lot of time "preparing for the worst". I've definitely learned more about psychology than I ever wanted to know and already made appointments with an attachment therapist and a trauma therapist (though they're not until the end of the month because I wanted the boys to settle in first). I know both Casey and Devin have had some major behavioral issues, and Casey's "adjustment disorder" looks more like clinical depression to me. But I certainly believe they can be helped and go on to be relatively happy and well-adjusted someday.

I don't know if it's possible to emotionally prepare for the sort of experience you've been through, honestly. Until last week I believed it was, but I wasn't counting on coming to care about them so deeply and so quickly. Most people said it would "take time for them to feel like they were mine", but that's not how it's working. I really missed them all last week and when I picked them up it absolutely felt like I was retrieving my own long-lost children.

I'm glad to know I have a place to come and talk where people will hopefully understand, though.
 

post #14 of 21

I can't wait to hear about all the little things, even though they are 11 yrs old, you'll still have milestones with them even if it isnt "he walked for the first time!" or "he said his first word!" Twins are really fun (my boys are the same age, although not bio related) but have their own set of issues, so you might also want to check out the multiples board here at MDC!(Much of that board is devoted to pregnancy and newborn related questions but there are still some good threads about school issues, friends, etc)

 

I dont know if your boys have any learning/school issues, but my daughter was clearly behind in many of her subject areas, and the school psychologist tried to dismiss it as a "foster child problem" (saying well she moved so much of course she's behind)....turns out, after testing, she has some pretty significant learning disabilities and now has "resource room" time each day and an IEP. Some people may have stereotypes about foster children and so you may have to deal with those issues as they arise. (I know you've done a lot of preparation so you probably know all this already!)

 

One big "duh" mistake i made...and i KNEW better, but totally forgot!!!....was that i didnt really prepare my daughter for her first big holiday with us, which was Thanksgiving (she'd moved in in June and had been with us on Easter as well but was more of a guest at that point as it was her first long visit)...i felt sooo bad when as we sat down to eat, she wondered where the fried chicken was. Her experiences of big family meals included food that we didnt have. Had i actually thought about it and taken the time to talk with her, I could have either prepared her for what it would be like (food, where everyone would be sitting, how the day normally goes) or had a few of her expected foods there.

 

I dont know how your boys feel about it, but i know my daughter was really embarrassed about being adopted at first (plus, she didnt even understand adoption, she thought every time she had been in foster care she had been adopted...your boys are older so hopefully they grasp it!) and being a transracial placement didnt help. She didnt want me to tell anyone anything which at times made things kind of awkward since it was so obvious we werent bio related. I tend to go on and on about adoption with people which was fine when the boys were little but she didnt like that at all so i had to stop. Now, with time, she's fine with it and has no problem telling people she was adopted.

 

 

post #15 of 21

Congrats on your placement. I am sure it is a very exciting time.

 

Queenjane, I understand about the adoption/foster thing. A friend of mine adopted older girls and when they found out that DD2 was a foster child their eyes lit up, like really, just like us. I think it helped them make a realization that you can't tell from the outside a kid is a foster child.

post #16 of 21
Thread Starter 

Queenjane, the twin issue has really thrown me ever since I first met them. I didn't set out with the intention of adopting siblings, much less twins, and their dynamic is more than a little mystifying to me. They're intensely bonded and get extremely upset if anyone tries to interfere with that bond. I'm an only child and can't even begin to fathom what it's like to have someone who has shared every moment of an often-traumatic and terrifying life with you, literally since the moment of birth. They're nice to each other, so I'm leaving that bond alone.

 

School has been a huge issue for both boys. They were failing 4th grade for the second time when I pulled them out of their old school. They've missed a lot more school than they've attended over the years and so have huge gaps in their knowledge, but the failing despite the school throwing every resource they had at them was clearly behavioral. Their initial assessments when they were first put into foster care put Casey's overall learning abilities in the 'superior' range and Devin's just over the cut-off for 'profoundly gifted'. I don't consider general intelligence tests to be the end-all of learning and know they could still have disabilities in given areas, but Casey was telling his teachers he couldn't read his assignments, then going home and reading Lord of the Rings for fun. Lol. I've already filed notification with my district that I'll be homeschooling them. I think their present emotional state simply makes institutionalized learning impossible for them.

 

You were right that holidays were something I hadn't considered, and neither was religion! duh.gif I read your post this afternoon and immediately went and asked the boys what they believed. Luckily their beliefs are vague, since my tradition is to do all the Pagan holidays with one group of friends and all the Christian holidays with another group of friends. I think their feelings towards it all are unformed enough that they'll enjoy getting different experiences, though their main concern seemed to be whether I'd make them eat turkey, which they both apparently hate. Lol.

 

My boys intellectually comprehend adoption fine, but don't yet believe I'll really keep them forever. Because of the stigma, it will be entirely up to them if they want anyone to know (we look similar, so no one will question it).

 

Thank you very much for your post. It definitely made me think of things I hadn't considered before.

 

Christophersmom, thank you as well. And (very late) congrats on your adoption too!

post #17 of 21

I am a single adoptive parent, also. My older son is now 21; he came to me when he was just under four. I also have a son 6-1/2 (the 1/2 is extremely important to him!) who came to me when he was 3 weeks old. My older son and I went through a lot. The thing is, you may go through a lot with your boys. You may have acting out of all kinds. But, so does every other parent on the planet. It's just a matter of degree. And you will get frustrated, and you will have times when you think, What the hell have I done? But I swear, the good times will outweigh the bad. You have done all the right things getting ready and you know, I'm sure, that even so, you can never be ready. No parent ever is. But you will be good enough* and you will get so many rewards from being a parent. So much good luck to you.

 

* Early on I had a very wise therapist tell me, "You don't have to be perfect. You just have to be good enough." I truly believe in that.

post #18 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thank you for your kind words, othermother. I've worked hard at putting perfectionism away and will definitely keep your wise therapist's words in mind.

 

You sound like a wonderful mother and I'm sure you and your sons are blessed to have each other. smile.gif

post #19 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ForeverFather View Post

Christophersmom, thank you as well. And (very late) congrats on your adoption too!


It can be a very late or very early. Our second foster daughter will be adopted sometime this year. smile.gif

post #20 of 21

oh another thing i'd suggest is to keep a journal or something similar and write down what your days are like. I wrote a post called "one Month with (daughter)" after dd had been here a month, and when i looked back a year later, i couldnt believe how many of those issues had either disappeared or were greatly reduced. Because we were still having so many other issues, it was hard for me to see progress but the progress was there.

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