or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Adoptive and Foster Parenting › Are these my kids?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Are these my kids?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Hi y'all,

 

We have been fostering, hoping to adopt, for some time. Just last week we got a call for 2 kids in permanent custody who need an adoptive family and if they were placed with us, we'd almost certainly adopt them. They were removed from former foster home due to an allegation, they've been in care almost their whole lives. Some of that has changed (of course!) and it's not quite clear if there is or is not another family who needs to be considered. In the meantime, we're trying to figure out what we want.

 

We were told verbal delays and slow to walk. Didn't freak us out. Then we were told bio mom has paranoid schizophrenia. <Gulp>. Then we found out that at age 3, the older one has had 4 placements in her life. The 1 year old, 2 placements. Then when they arrived, they're clearly "failure to thrive" by the numbers (height and weight below 1%) and we aren't sure if any of the tests that should have been done for failure to thrive were (genetics, metabolism, GI). In addition to that, our guts say that these kids have delays that haven't been reported and so we're trying to get the right assessments done asap.

 

For a little while I was freaked out maybe this is fetal alcohol. But all the websites say that their heads should be smaller if that were true--their head circumferences are on the growth chart, not below--25% and 50%.

 

We're struggling with a lot of things, two concerns for all of you:

 

(1) we watching to see how they respond to us as parents and for signs about how messed up their attachment is, wondering if we can meet their emotional needs. They are affectionate, clearly want adult attention, are already calling us "Mommy" and "Daddy". They didn't cry for 24 hours with us, but then started to get teary when one of us left the room and we started talking about their "other mommy and daddy". They don't immediately run to strangers (but warm up very fast and give out hugs and stuff pretty easily). As the days go by, they are willing to do more and more baby-like snuggling and eye contact. We know we'd be in for a long haul...What do you think? 4 placements in 3 years, how messed up is this little girl? 2 placements in 2 years, how messed up is the little guy? Anyone have any experience with this? We can take most of the next 3 months mostly off work and pay a lot of attention to them, sleep in their room touching them, feed them bottles, feed them meals, etc, etc, but they compete over our attention already and after 3 months we'd have to put them in at least part-time childcare...

 

(2) The other thing we're struggling with is the schizophrenia. We know they already had about a 10% risk of it, but after so many transitions as babies--is the risk higher? We don't know what we can handle and have to decide soon...what would you do?

 

Thanks!

 

E

post #2 of 14

 4 placements in 3 years, how messed up is this little girl? 2 placements in 2 years, how messed up is the little guy? 

 

I'd worry more about the quality of the placements than the number of placements - i.e., have they been abused? If so, how badly, and by who? It seems very likely that they've been starved. 

 

WRT the schizophrenia - it runs in my family. It's a real risk. But after a generation where two brothers had it, my generation consists of 4 healthy adults - and two of the healthy adults were raised by one of the schizophrenics. I don't think that should be a dealbreaker. 

 

Aggressively pursuing more testing is nothing but good. I'd aggressively pursue therapies as well. Therapeutic preschool for the older one maybe? You don't need to make a decision about adoption today. See what life is like as the parents of these kids, and by the time you need to be sure, you probably will be. 

 

adoptionheart-1.gif

post #3 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by greenfish View Post

 

(1) we watching to see how they respond to us as parents and for signs about how messed up their attachment is, wondering if we can meet their emotional needs. They are affectionate, clearly want adult attention, are already calling us "Mommy" and "Daddy". They didn't cry for 24 hours with us, but then started to get teary when one of us left the room and we started talking about their "other mommy and daddy". They don't immediately run to strangers (but warm up very fast and give out hugs and stuff pretty easily). As the days go by, they are willing to do more and more baby-like snuggling and eye contact. We know we'd be in for a long haul...What do you think? 4 placements in 3 years, how messed up is this little girl? 2 placements in 2 years, how messed up is the little guy? Anyone have any experience with this? We can take most of the next 3 months mostly off work and pay a lot of attention to them, sleep in their room touching them, feed them bottles, feed them meals, etc, etc, but they compete over our attention already and after 3 months we'd have to put them in at least part-time childcare...

 

(2) The other thing we're struggling with is the schizophrenia. We know they already had about a 10% risk of it, but after so many transitions as babies--is the risk higher? We don't know what we can handle and have to decide soon...what would you do?

 

1) I think it's going to take a bit of time to get to know these kids. You have to have them in your home for a couple months before they really start to show true colors. Multiple transitions are hard on kids but children are also very resiliant. If you provide consistent, nurturing parenting then they'll very likely heal whatever scars have been caused by all the moves. They're young and they can adjust. I certainly would not rule them out based on a history of many different foster homes. Most likely that simply says something about those previous homes or about the system than it says anything about them. 4 placements in 3 years is a lot but if that stops now she's got a great chance for a normal life.

 

Personally, I think I'd put them in a good daycare/preschool sooner rather than later. It will give you more time to step back and see things clearly without getting to overwhelmed by it all. 2 very young children can be very difficult to care for. If your end goal is to have them in daycare 5 days a week then I'd start with 1-2 days now and build up over the next three months so that when you get to 5 days per week there's been a gentle transition, not just BAM! now it's daycare time. Or if the end goal is 3 days a week then start with 1 day or 2 half days. Just make sure you choose a good daycare/preschool. A bad one will just do more damage. And personally, I would not give many details about the children that aren't abosolutely relevant to day-to-day care because that could influence someone's opinion and then they might treat the children differently.

 

2) About schizophrenia... They have a chance of developing it later in life and the stress of fostercare transitions can increase that chance. But if they develop the disease, it's a long ways off in the future. If either of them have it, they won't have it for 10-20 years. You would likely have many years before it ever becomes an issue, IF it ever becomes an issue. And by providing a stable loving nutruring healthy environment then you'll cut that risk down. I don't think it would influence my decision to adopt a child or not. In many ways, having this knowledge puts you in a much better place to deal with it if it comes up. You'll be able to recognize the early signs and get treatment quickly if it ever becomes an issue.

 

Ultimately, obviously, this is a private personal decision you will have to make. I say take it slow and just get to know these kids. If it feels right then move forward with adoption. If not, then do your best to ensure that these kids get a careful, slow transition to the next home and not another abrupt loss.

post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thank you all. Very helpful to hear a range of responses....we've since had a chance to read their full OT reports and realized their case worker doesn't know half of their issues. At this point we've realized they are just too much for us to take on. Their case worker presented them to us very differently than they are and we don't have the everything to give them that they need. Or we could, but the sacrifice that we'd make in the rest of our lives isn't something we feel able to do and feel like we're honoring the whole of who we are.

post #5 of 14

Greenfish, it is unfortunate when case workers are not forthcoming with the issues!  It is not fair to the foster parents, or foster to adopt parents or the children themselves since it puts them in a situation where they are more likely to be "moved" again.  I wish the system was different for everyone involved. 

 

I hope the case worker finds a good fit for these kids and I personally think it is good that you are able to identify what is best for your family and be honest about it.

post #6 of 14

I think you made the right decision for your family. However, it's my understanding that the risk of developing schizophrenia when one parent has it, is less than ten percent. It's actually not that much more likely than a child who didn't have a parent with schizophrenia. And when the child is not raised with that parent, it makes a huge difference. There are tremendous environmental factors that contribute to that condition. My son's birth father has paranoid schizophrenia. I talked with a lot of specialists about this over the years.

post #7 of 14

Social worker really isn't doing the little ones any favors by not knowing (to give the benefit of the doubt) or not revealing (if you take a more cynical view) the whole story.  Maybe this is part of why they have so many placements already . . .  

post #8 of 14

I am shocked that you are giving up so quickly on these kids. Sounds like these babies just need to know that they are wanted and loved. Treat them as if they are your forever kids and you might be surprised at how well they respond. Every child, Iet me stress that, EVERY CHILD deserves a chance, no matter what has happened to them or where they come from. It shocks me that so many people judge children based on the past that happened to them, not because of them. These children had no control over their lives before they came to your home. Yes they are damaged, yes they have emotional problems, but don't blame them or hold that against them, don't even give their past any weight. Give them time to get settled. Definitely have them completely checked out, but only so you can help them, not so you can decide to have them removed from your home. Pray that God gives you the strength to help these babies, they were brought to you because he knows you are the best parents for them.   Please help them! 

post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by soontobemominnc View Post

I am shocked that you are giving up so quickly on these kids. Sounds like these babies just need to know that they are wanted and loved. Treat them as if they are your forever kids and you might be surprised at how well they respond. Every child, Iet me stress that, EVERY CHILD deserves a chance, no matter what has happened to them or where they come from. It shocks me that so many people judge children based on the past that happened to them, not because of them. These children had no control over their lives before they came to your home. Yes they are damaged, yes they have emotional problems, but don't blame them or hold that against them, don't even give their past any weight. Give them time to get settled. Definitely have them completely checked out, but only so you can help them, not so you can decide to have them removed from your home. Pray that God gives you the strength to help these babies, they were brought to you because he knows you are the best parents for them.   Please help them! 

 

um....are you an adoptive parent?

 

The above paragraph sounds really nice but has no basis in reality.

 

The children are not in the OPs home. She was considering fostering them with the intent to adopt (they are in PC meaning parental rights have already been terminated and they are seeking an adoptive home for them)....she isnt "giving up" on the children, she is choosing to pass on having them placed in her home because she does not feel she can adequately meet their needs. THAT IS A GOOD THING!!! A potential adoptive parent should NEVER feel guilty for refusing a placement they feel isnt the right one for their family (or that their family isnt the right one for the child.) The attitude you take is precisely what gets kids into homes that they then eventually disrupt out of.

 

Children dont "just need to know they are wanted and loved." Loving a child is not enough. Let me repeat that: LOVE IS NOT ENOUGH.

 

Love is important dont get me wrong. But i know plenty of people who love their child and still find the child cannot live in their home.

 

Its easy to look at a potential adoptive match and say "oh i could do this! no problem!"...but again, not reality.

 

I believe there is a permanent family out there for most children (and for some children, a family setting just wont work at all unfortunately.) These kids will likely be adopted by someone with experience looking for medically involved or dev. delayed children who are THRILLED to have them and prepared for their issues.

 

Its not about blaming the child or holding their past against them (wtf?!)....but a child's past is VERY IMPORTANT when determining whether you can really parent a child.

 

Not every parent is equipped to parent a child with Fetal Alcohol damage.

 

Not every parent is equipped to parent a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder.

 

Not every parent is equipped to parent a child who has been sexually abused or who has a history of sexually acting out.

 

Not every parent is equipped to parent a child with mental illness.

 

Not every parent is equipped to parent a child with developmental delays, mental retardation, or learning disabilities.

 

I think there IS A PARENT OUT THERE for every one of those kids....but not every parent is THAT parent.

 

Frankly, as someone who is parenting a child with a lot of issues (issues that are not NEARLY as severe as some kids) who has in many ways torn apart our home due to her issues (NOT her fault, but DIRECTLY related to what has happened to her in her past), who needs intensive therapy which takes a lot of time away from the rest of the household (just driving to therapy is an hour there and back and medicaid doesnt pay for it!) it pisses me off to hear these holier-than-thou attitudes about the placement of children.

 

Do you think every parent who wants to adopt should just adopt any child presented to them regardless of other factors? That a parent willing to adopt should be open to ALL ages, disabilities, risk factors, behaviors?? How on earth does that benefit the child??

 

Children are not charity cases ("Please help them!!") and wanting to help a child is not enough to actually help that child. shake.gif

post #10 of 14
I totally agree with Katherine. I'm a hardcore advocate of older child adoption from foster care, I think that the current conventional wisdom around avoiding children with tough stuff in their pasts is unfounded and leaves many wonderful kids homeless - but the more thoroughly a family analyzes what they can handle before they offer a child an adoptive home, the better off that child will be.
post #11 of 14

"soontobemominnc" are you soon to be a mom via adoption? through the foster care system? if so i would gently suggest you do ALOT more research before you accept a match so you will be prepared. Naivety will get you nowhere, fast. Its nice to be positive but you gotta be realistic.

 

Let me tell you a couple of stories about kids that were presented to me for adoption. Im longwinded so feel free to skim. winky.gif

 

One child was listed on a photolisting as basically a typical kid, likes to play, etc etc. When i got his longer "child history" paperwork though, i found out that he was (at 8 yrs old) living in a residential treatment center (for kids with behavior issues, its very expensive so they try to keep kids in foster homes if at all possible, if a child is in an RTC that young, its pretty significant) and had a previous disrupted adoption. The single mom who had adopted him before (in the past year) took him to the psych ward after severe acting out behaviors from this child, the adoption hadnt finalized yet and the agency decided not to return him to her and not let him see her again. They just placed him in a foster home with older parents. The child was removed from this home and taken to RTC and these "grandparents" loved the boy, and visited him regularly....but they would not take him back into their home.

 

When i asked the social worker for more information about his behaviors, why he was in the RTC, why the "grandparents" wouldnt take him home...her response? "He has issues with homework." Yeah......right. I knew right then that this boy likely had very severe issues and was not the right child for us.

 

Another child.....again, in an RTC at seven years old. Had a birth grandma who had raised him and dearly loved him, but again....would not have him back in her home. Even in the paperwork it was very sketchy about what the child's actual behaviors were, though it was mentioned that they had to sometimes restrain him. When i pressed the social worker for more information about his issues, she was vague. When i asked her, for example, "is he good/safe with pets?" her response "Oh he just loves the therapeutic horseback riding program here!" ok thats great, but gives no info about whether he is likely to hurt our cat.

 

A child on my state photolisting around 8 yrs old....my worker said i was matched, that the boy's worker was willing to proceed with us if we wanted. I was SO excited! I had been waiting probably two years for a match with an older child, i had recently adopted my foster baby who i think was about 11 months old at the time and had my older son who was about 12. I got the child's history and was SHOCKED the boy's worker wanted to place him with us. This boy had younger sibs in another adoptive home who had originally had him but after he consistently tried to sexually abuse/act out with the children they had him removed. The agency insisted on monthly sib visits (i guess they were all still fosters at this time) and the boy would try to sexually act out with the younger sibs *during visits!!!* The child was adopted by another family who eventually disrupted the adoption and moved out of state (from reading between the lines it sounds like this family was traumatized by the experience) When i asked my worker *why on earth* the child's worker was willing to place him with a family with a young child in the home (mine!) she called the worker and then called me back and said the worker said "thats no longer an issue." What??? seriously??? it said right there in the paperwork the child's psychiatrist recommends he not live in a home with other children.

 

Those workers of those kids just wanted to place those boys in a home. DIdnt matter if it was the RIGHT home. Or a PERMANENT home. Didnt matter if the boys in question would go on to hurt other children or family members. Didnt matter if they disrupted in the future causing even further damage to the children's ability to trust. They just wanted a match.

 

Compare that to these situations:

 

Saw a boy on another state's photolisting. This boy looked EXACTLY like my other son (didnt have the baby at this time)...red hair, freckles, they could be twins. He was seven or eight years old. I called the worker and spoke extensively with her. She was willing to work with me on possibly making it a match but she wanted to be upfront and honest. The boy was in an RTC and was doing ok but did have acting out issues. She went into great detail about the boy's mother's extensive history of alcohol abuse and while not diagnosed made it clear the boy likely had some significant fetal alcohol damage impacting his ability to attach. She talked about what it would take to parent this child. She wasnt trying to talk me INTO accepting him, she wanted to make sure his next home was his LAST home. And in the end i decided (given how he wasnt safe with other children) that our home was not the right one and he likely should be placed in a home with no other children. I felt good about that decision (though sad) and he fairly quickly was adopted by another family.

 

Another situation....again, a boy around 10 on another state's photolisting. The history form was VERY extensive, probably 15 pages long and very upfront about everything in his history (SEVERE sexual abuse just the stuff of nightmares really), IQ scores, behavior evals, info from foster parents etc. I spoke with his worker for a long time and she explained that after his last traumatic disrupted adoption (where the parents visited him for months, adopted him, kept him for 8 days over the christmas holiday then decided not to proceed given his issues) the adoption committee was going to be VERY careful about his next home and make sure the parents were adequately prepared. Even though he had severe issues, i saw enough progress detailed in the paperwork that i felt given the progress he made when in a healthy stable environment (increase in IQ scores and school performance, decrease in behaviors etc) that this was a child that might thrive with us (i didnt have younger children in the home at the time)....in the end i wasnt chosen as a match but i assume they found the right family for him.

 

The young naive social workers for the first three kids above were doing them no favors. I often wonder what happened to those kids. I hope they landed in families able to help them.

 

In the end, after adopting two younger healthy kids i had fostered, i ended up adopting one of my son's sisters who was 8 at the time. I was given almost NO info about her past and everyone acted like she was "fine"...well she wasnt fine and the past two years have been HARD. I would not recommend anyone go into a situation like ours intentionally unless they wanted and were prepared to parent a child with significant attachment issues, learning disabilities etc. Because if you're not, it is just THAT much harder. And THAT is not fair to the child either.
 

post #12 of 14
... and my experience is that I have fostered three neglected boys, and the most neglected one (also the oldest and the one who was longest in the system) is the one with the fewest issues - a child that any willing family could successfully parent.

But that's kismet, not the result of conscientious effort by social workers.
post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smithie View Post

... and my experience is that I have fostered three neglected boys, and the most neglected one (also the oldest and the one who was longest in the system) is the one with the fewest issues - a child that any willing family could successfully parent.
But that's kismet, not the result of conscientious effort by social workers.

 

I think the biggest indicator for how well a child will be able to adjust to normal family life and not have significant emotional issues is how they were treated in the prenatal environment and during the first three (and especially the first year) of life. A child who was not prenatally exposed to alcohol in utero and who had fairly consistent loving caregivers during that vital first year is going to generally be a lot healthier no matter how long they ultimately are in foster care. And you can never predict which child will be "resilient" and come through relatively unscathed. A friend was adopting a sib group of three, and interestingly enough it was the oldest (six yr old) who had spent the longest time with the birthmother (since he was not placed from birth like the other two kids) who was the most normal, the youngest (who was 3) didnt seem to have any behavior/emotional issues but lots of delays (possibly environmental...and she had only been in foster care, not birthhome!), but the middle child a girl of 4 seemed to have significant emotional (possibly psychiatric) issues that made living with her VERY difficult (she would hurt the animals, act out sexually, urinate/defecate on purpose in places she shouldnt, just lots of crazy behaviors....my friend suspects she was sexually abused by a foster sister. greensad.gif ) My friend was told all three children were totally typical, healthy kids with no special needs. It was far from the truth.

 

The thing is....you never know if the child you foster or adopt will have significant issues until you're dealing with them (unless you have a good worker who discloses any info they have or you know the child's history in other placements and can judge from that)....i adopted two totally healthy normal kids. I was singing the praises of foster care adoption. Then i adopted my daughter and now i urge people to use caution...i dont tell people not to adopt, but you need to be careful. Its really hard for people to understand how difficult and damaging to the family as a whole it can be when a child is placed with you whose needs are greater than you can manage. My daughter's GAL completely dismissed the idea of her having RAD (actually laughed out load at the idea of it) and her worker only ever told me she has "issues" but never any more info than that. She honeymooned for like two months or more of visitation (oh i saw behaviors but i didnt see nearly what she had in store for me after she moved in.)

 

And im not even saying "dont adopt a kid with attachment issues!" but rather "try to find out what you'll be dealing with before you the child comes home"...it would have been SO MUCH BETTER for our family if i knew going in how to handle my daughter (and i read all the books! knew the red flags to look for! i was so blindsided by my desire to "rescue" her from her crappy foster home, reunite her with her brother and she was so damn cute that i just didnt see it!) I am so traumatized by the experience of parenting her for the past two years that now that we are in attachment therapy its like a big mountain to climb to get to that place of love and joy for her that i had before she moved in. I think situations like mine are far more common than anyone would think but there is a stigma about talking openly about the difficulties in adoption.

 

Smithie do you still have the most recent boy that was placed with you? Does it look like that might go to adoption?

post #14 of 14
We still have C. He might be honeymooning, but I think he just IS a well-adjusted, calm person. The orphanage mentioned a few behaviors that he manifested for a day or so, buthe responded immediately to correction by a father figure. I think the behaviors were related to living in a high-stress environment with no male caregivers. He is a kid who really needs a Dad.

The case has been staffed for adoption, so I have hope. C has infant twin half-brothers in custody, but I hope he is not placed with them. He parented them for several months and I can still see the scars from that experience. He probably shouldn't be in a family with any infants until he's got a few years of healing under his belt.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Adoptive and Foster Parenting
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Parenting › Adoptive and Foster Parenting › Are these my kids?