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need adoption advice (not newborn)


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To try to make a long story short, we tried adopt (domestic newborn) a few years ago and it was a horrible experience that ended with no baby. Two years ago we fostered a little boy, but it was not in his best interest (or our bio son's) to adopt him as he really needed to be an only child.

 

A situation we weren't expecting recently presented itself, and we MAY have the opportunity to adopt a 5 1/2 year old girl. We have met her and she seems very emotionally stable (just clingy/needy), but we also thought foster son was very emotionally stable until we had him in our home and found the extent on his abuse was much greater than we knew:sad:

 

Any advice for adopting a child (not infant)?

 

Thank-you in advance. We are feeling excited but really nervous about this and it may not even happen.:001_unsure: I really appreciate your advice and prayers!

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We adopted our boy when he was 3 years old. He adapted very well, like was a perfect child when we got him....until about 2 months later, then he really started testing us. Our agency said that is normal. Usually, the child will test and have problems from the first. Other kids, though, have a "honeymoon period" where they are wonderful until they become comfortable.

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I'm assuming this is through foster care? I'm not sure how the process is where you are, but in Los Angeles county (Ca.), they have a "full disclosure" meeting prior to the child's placement where they basically go over the child's history and any "diagnosed" issues,etc.

 

Ime, there is no guarantee that a child who has been given a "clean bill of health", both emotional and physical, will continue to grow and develop without issues.

 

My advice would be to ask as many questions as you can, gather as much information as you can on this child (sibs? extended family? mental health history of extended family? drug use? alcohol? etc..) before you make any decisions.

 

Then I would advise you to pray ;) Are you ready to handle a child who may later prove to have attachment issues? Behavioral issues? Mental illness? FASD?

 

I'm not in any way trying to discourage you (((hugs))), I just think for your family's sake, you need to really consider different scenarios/outcomes . Good luck :)

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How old is your bio son? I wouldn't adopt a child older than him. NEVER trust that the agencies will be honest with you.

 

Read up on attachment issues and RAD to see if it is something you could cope with. Cnsider your son also. My youngest has RAD and it is extremely difficult to deal with.

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I have seen these situations go both ways. Are you going to foster before you adopt? I would advise that, if at all possible for an older child. You may still have a honeymoon period, but at least you'd have a chance to observe and maybe at least see if he is meeting his developmental milestones. But, to be perfectly honest, In adoption any age is risky, unless they hand the baby to you right at delivery. Our oldest was adopted when she was 12 mos, and we later found out she was abused. Terribly. And we have the emotional turmoil to prove it. Depression, anxiety, executive skills dysfunction, and PDD-NOS, or extremely mild aspie. Our second was taken care of extremely well, and is a normal, emotionally healthy 8 yr old. Well, she was Not sure how she'll turn out growing up with big sis.

 

I only tell you this so you will be going in with your eyes open. That doesn't mean that it won't or can't work. Piper is in counseling and Vision therapy, and has been in OT for several years. She has come a LONG way, but I think she will always be quirky and on anti-depressants.

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How old is Ben?

 

PLEASE make sure you are able and willing to work on the attachment stuff. ANd realize that it could get really rough down the line between adoption issues, attachment issues, etc. That might start a week in, 4 months in, a year in, puberty, whatever. ON top of that genetics are stronger than anyone wants to admit.

 

I did have a question. How much of a relationship do you have with this child now? Is she clingy/needy with YOU? With everyone? A lot of people find that kinda cute. But I have two kids who are indescriminate with their affection. And needy is often "manipulative." This can really cause issue between you and other adults who just don't understand why you set the limits you do.

 

Anyway, but as kids make progress...it is the most wonderful thing on earth. I see this with my littles (I've had them 15months and we are finalizing their adoption soon). It is so neat to be part of this. But it is by far the hardest thing I've done in my whole entire life.

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Such a decision! I agree with other posters - find out everything you can, read up on RAD, pray.

 

We adopted a 6yo boy from a Ukrainian orphanage. At the time, our bio dd was 6 years old also; she is older than him by 6 weeks. But that was important to her! The three of us spent a month renting an apartment in Kiev and traveling the long journey (12 hours on an overnight train, then a 90-minute taxi ride to the orphanage) a few times that month once we decided to adopt my son.

 

From what I've read, we were lucky. My son, despite having been abandoned by his mother repeatedly and put in an orphanage at the age of 2, has no attachment disorders. The only thing he has is a teensy touch of Aspergers, and a few minor learning disabilities to go along with it. But plenty of bio kids have that, so we don't look at it as an "adoption only" thing.

 

My son attached to me instantly - literally, the first time we met. He is now 14 years old, and still very attached to me. He loves it when the whole family is together - being 6 when we got him, he really appreciates having family!! My dh travels a lot on business, and while we all deal with it fine, my son smiles and gets happiest when we're all at home together, having dinner or watching a movie. Simple joys. ;-)

 

We were afraid to adopt this boy, but felt God telling us strongly to do it, which is why I suggest praying (if you're of that bent) and trusting in your decision. I know the angst you are feeling....and I sincerely wish you the best of luck in making the decision and beyond. :grouphug:

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We have adopted all 5 of our kids, and 3 of the five were older children at 8 1/2, 10 and 11 years old when they arrived home. We have run the gamut in terms of experiences, having special needs with cleft lip and palate, severe learning disabilities, RAD, transracial and older child adoption.

 

I hear what others are saying, I truly do. My life's experiences have taught me never to say never, and never to think it's "always" going to be what the experts tell you.

 

Our child adopted at 11 months old was the one with RAD to the point we were asked by therapists if they could council is through relinquishment. He eventually healed and is a total delight.

 

We adopted out of birth order, not just once, but twice. It has never been an issue for us, not once.

 

The learning disabilities are what they are, but my son who is now almost 14 adopted at 8 is the one with cleft lip/palate and he reads at about a 5th grade level, on a good day. He also has the deepest soul, and confounds you when you hear him speak for he is certainly not his IQ number, and even his specialists have no idea why he struggles so with some learning tasks. He has a heart of purest gold.

 

Our daughters, on paper, should have never been adopted due to the trauma they experienced and their ages being 10 and 11. We did it anyway, and have never had a single serious moment of challenge with them since about 2 weeks home.

 

I spent countless hours of research over the course of 10 years, spoke with literally hundreds of adoptive parents in online groups and face to face, and ultimately decided to do several things that made sense for us considering the children we had and the children we added each time. We have not a single regret, not one, and we have the most resilient, loving...amazingly so...children that any parents could ever ask for. Are adoption issues part of our life? Sure they are, but it does not overwhelm us, it does not rule us, and we let our own understanding of what God wanted for our lives lead us. Thankfully, we DID go against the experts because we used our own judgment about our situation, even when outwardly it made no sense. It made sense to us, and that is all that mattered.

 

Do not discard what you learn, use it to help you evaluate what is right for your family. All we learned came into play every single time, even if we did ultimately go against the grain...we did so knowing the risks, understanding what we were going to face possible, and weighing factors that aren't always looked at.

 

Cindy

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we did so knowing the risks, understanding what we were going to face possible, and weighing factors that aren't always looked at.

 

 

I just want it known that I wasn't trying to be negative in my comment, but simply say to go in with eyes wide open and not a fairy tale.

 

Obviously, I'm not against adopting a 5yo (or his 4yo brother or 6yo sister) despite attachment disorder, significant behaviors many people wouldn't even consider, etc since I'm doing so within a couple weeks. This may have been the most challenging thing I've done with lots of overwhelm, upset, worry, etc; but it has also been beyond awesome! Seriously. The progress, the eyes lighting up, the new experiences (who knew mushrooms and watermelon could be so cool? Then add dissecting a shark?!?!).

 

Anyway, be mindful.

 

BTW, my "be mindful" is more for the CHILDREN involved rather than for the adults. The adults can CHOOSE to deal with the child and his behavior (as Cindy's family decided as has Denise's...granted, with different outcomes so far). But you need to know the possibilities in order to protect Ben, to help him, to guide him through this. And I'll be honest that I have cringed at what my teenagers have seen and heard from these little people in the last 17months! But also, this little girl needs to have stability and to be able to work through her hurt, not add more. If you aren't dedicated in the same way as if you had given birth, don't do it. FIND the information you need to make the right decision. Don't just try a kid on for size. IF it is a fairy tale, GREAT. If not, that will be okay also.

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The only thing he has is a teensy touch of Aspergers, and a few minor learning disabilities to go along with it. But plenty of bio kids have that, so we don't look at it as an "adoption only" thing.

 

 

Elinor, I agree with you, birth children can have lots of disorders too. I attribute my daughter's aspie/executive skills dysfunction and anxiety/depression to her adoption, only because of the background of our story, which I will share briefly here.

 

I was in 7 foster homes before I was placed permanently at 18 mos. I've always been disorganized and 'lazy'. I have depression and anxiety. My teen years were horrible. basically because we had me, with ADD (diagnosed much later) and my mom-OCD. Plus depression wasn't all that known then.

 

My daughter had 6 care-givers in 6 mos. And she is JUST. LIKE. ME. God knew she needed someone who could see, understand, and address her problems.

 

I tell myself every so often that it's not the adoption, anyone can have asperger's. But when I look at our facts, quite honestly, I get freaked out.

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Such a decision! I agree with other posters - find out everything you can, read up on RAD, pray.

 

We adopted a 6yo boy from a Ukrainian orphanage. At the time, our bio dd was 6 years old also; she is older than him by 6 weeks. But that was important to her! The three of us spent a month renting an apartment in Kiev and traveling the long journey (12 hours on an overnight train, then a 90-minute taxi ride to the orphanage) a few times that month once we decided to adopt my son.

 

From what I've read, we were lucky. My son, despite having been abandoned by his mother repeatedly and put in an orphanage at the age of 2, has no attachment disorders. The only thing he has is a teensy touch of Aspergers, and a few minor learning disabilities to go along with it. But plenty of bio kids have that, so we don't look at it as an "adoption only" thing.

 

My son attached to me instantly - literally, the first time we met. He is now 14 years old, and still very attached to me. He loves it when the whole family is together - being 6 when we got him, he really appreciates having family!! My dh travels a lot on business, and while we all deal with it fine, my son smiles and gets happiest when we're all at home together, having dinner or watching a movie. Simple joys. ;-)

 

We were afraid to adopt this boy, but felt God telling us strongly to do it, which is why I suggest praying (if you're of that bent) and trusting in your decision. I know the angst you are feeling....and I sincerely wish you the best of luck in making the decision and beyond. :grouphug:

 

 

Like Elinor, we adopted our daughter, Katya, from a Ukrainian orphanage. She's a love, but it's not been easy. And, like Elinor, we knew that God was calling us to do it, regardless of the challenges we would face. I did go through grieving the loss of life as we had known it. We would do it all over again in a heartbeat, but I would never sugarcoat it and pretend that it's been easy.

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We are relatively new at this - DD has been with us for 15 months, adopted at age 13 internationally.

 

Best advice we got was to prepare for the worst and have no expectations.

 

Read everything you can on RAD, attachment therapy, birth order, etc. Read and remind yourself that this (insert worst case scenario) could happen to you. That is not to say that you couldn't handle it. We have had conversations I never thought I could have, learned things I wished I'd never known, and dealt with situations I didn't think I could handle. Information and expert support are key.

 

The harder part was letting go of expectations - mine AND other people's. Be realistic about where the child is at emotionally. Learn about how children from abuse/neglect often respond to stress, etc. because it probably won't be the way you would. It takes a new way of thinking. I think when people go into an adoption thinking it will be all sunshine and unicorns now that the child has a family, that is when expectations can bite ya. And I am still learning to let go of other people's expectations of our daughter. They don't know what she has been through, they don't understand the "normal" things that are really hard for her, and she is a delight just the way she is right where she's at, regardless of what other people expect of her.

 

That sounds terribly negative, and it really isn't meant to be! I am like others here - it has been difficult at times, but we feel VERY lucky to have a daughter who is doing well attachment wise, health wise, and emotionally. I simply COULD NOT imagine our life without her, and her two younger brothers (bio children) feel the exact same. She went away for camp for five days, and you would have thought they'd each lost an arm they were so miserable without her!

 

Read and pray. Lather, rinse, repeat.

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Elinor, I agree with you, birth children can have lots of disorders too. I attribute my daughter's aspie/executive skills dysfunction and anxiety/depression to her adoption, only because of the background of our story, which I will share briefly here.

 

I was in 7 foster homes before I was placed permanently at 18 mos. I've always been disorganized and 'lazy'. I have depression and anxiety. My teen years were horrible. basically because we had me, with ADD (diagnosed much later) and my mom-OCD. Plus depression wasn't all that known then.

 

My daughter had 6 care-givers in 6 mos. And she is JUST. LIKE. ME. God knew she needed someone who could see, understand, and address her problems.

 

I tell myself every so often that it's not the adoption, anyone can have asperger's. But when I look at our facts, quite honestly, I get freaked out.

 

I think you are right. My son was lucky in the fact that he went from home to an orphanage, and then one more move to the older kid orphanage. He was also fortunate that the orphanage workers really loved him - we could see it by the way they talked to him, hugged and kissed him, patted his shoulder and head--they were very hands-on.

 

I feel for you and the childhood you had, as well as your daughter.

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Thank-you for all the information and support. Ben is 9 so birth order isn't an issue. I don't really know anything about RAD so I'm off to do some research! I haven't read her chart to know about any offical diagnosis, but know that her mom is an addict and she had a history of neglecting/abondoning the little girl. The girl is being fostered by her great aunt who is a church friend of mine, but her aunt is older and weary of being a "mom" again. She recognizes that she (for her own sanity) cannot adopt. The girl seems happy, but is quick to attach to any person and demands attention. She has never known a dad and really loves my husband. But as I said, she is quick to throw herself at most anybody and beg for attention. Does that sound like RAD? I'm off to research now. Thanks again.

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Indiscriminate affection can be a sign of attachment issues, but seeking attention can also be an age/stage thing for any child. It is hard to tell without observing it.

 

Just wanted to mention we read a great book about siblings called Brothers and Sisters in Adoption by Arleta James. (I think!) It was great at helping us see this process and the ups and downs of adoption through the eyes of our bio kids. Just a thought...

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The girl seems happy, but is quick to attach to any person and demands attention. She has never known a dad and really loves my husband. But as I said, she is quick to throw herself at most anybody and beg for attention.

 

You are making good observations. You need that skill in order to parent this little girl.

 

When the feelings to fun and love go away, love is a choice.

 

I'm glad we adopted our girls, but I am daily challenged to love.

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So great to read everyone's responses and I resonate with so much of what is being said. Abandonment is never ideal and every orphan will at one point have to deal with the heartache that comes with feeling/being unwanted. (I didn't realize I had the issue of abandonment until I was in my 30's and I grew up in an excellent home and was adopted at birth.) Our darling daughter was 11 months when adopted from China. She has multiple needs; cognitive/academic, speech, gross/fine motor, drooling, sensory, etc. She is a high maintenance little bundle of joy. Usually attached to my hip, even at the age of eight. After reading through the responses, I too, wonder if she was abused. She does have scars. She always asks if we are coming back if we leave to go anywhere, she is quick to get aggressive, and frankly there are places we don't go and people we don't hang out with because they just don't understand, or don't have the patience. I too am trying not to allow the judgment of those around me to influence how I parent and how I see my daughter. And I too wouldn't change a thing. I would do it all over again. Our bio son was nearly 5 when she came home and as difficult as it has been for him I truly believe he wouldn't trade her for the world. I hope the words that everyone has shared has helped. We know that God gave us our little girl because He knew we would do whatever it takes to allow her to grow to her fullest potential. It is hard, exhausting and I've never been so angry as I have in parenting this little girl, or so sad that she just can't relate to children her own age yet desperately wants a little friend, but I've also laughed twice as much, enjoyed her snuggles that are too hard due to sensory issues, chuckled when she mispronounces 'peanuts' as you can only guess and filled with warmth and hope when I do see the growth.

 

Blessings,

Trish

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I would make sure you get an adoption subsidy for her---medical, counseling, etc. Support subsidy too. Even if it seems like she has no real special needs now, it can become critical later---esp. if your insurance changes or there is a job loss, etc.

 

As to attachment, there is that risk. Her being so friendly could be attachment but yet I know some very well adjusted bio kids that will go and talk to anyone, be friends with any adults, etc. so it is not a clear cut thing.

 

We adopted 3. Our one with the most attachment issues came to us at birth and was never abused or neglected. Her bio sister had some and she had come at 8 months old and had suffered before that. Our one that came at 7 1/2 years old had NO attachment issues at all and no adjustment/adoption issues at all and he was the one that was in a few foster homes and had a much longer history of neglect and abuse.

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It's not a decision to enter lightly but there are a lot of newer resources that equip parents to handle kids from hard places (which include older adoptees) should you make the leap. These kids are very "healable" but it takes a lot of research and time.

 

I also think knowing your motivation for adopting and expectations are key to how successful adoption relationships are. If you feel called to bring her into your home, everyone will need to make sacrifices and expect it to be HARD.

 

If you go ahead, I would strongly suggest checking out the resources at www.empoweredtoconnect.org. They have revolutionized our house after a 2 1/2 year old turned it upside down.

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So great to read everyone's responses and I resonate with so much of what is being said. Abandonment is never ideal and every orphan will at one point have to deal with the heartache that comes with feeling/being unwanted. (I didn't realize I had the issue of abandonment until I was in my 30's and I grew up in an excellent home and was adopted at birth.) Our darling daughter was 11 months when adopted from China. She has multiple needs; cognitive/academic, speech, gross/fine motor, drooling, sensory, etc. She is a high maintenance little bundle of joy. Usually attached to my hip, even at the age of eight. After reading through the responses, I too, wonder if she was abused. She does have scars. She always asks if we are coming back if we leave to go anywhere, she is quick to get aggressive, and frankly there are places we don't go and people we don't hang out with because they just don't understand, or don't have the patience. I too am trying not to allow the judgment of those around me to influence how I parent and how I see my daughter. And I too wouldn't change a thing. I would do it all over again. Our bio son was nearly 5 when she came home and as difficult as it has been for him I truly believe he wouldn't trade her for the world. I hope the words that everyone has shared has helped. We know that God gave us our little girl because He knew we would do whatever it takes to allow her to grow to her fullest potential. It is hard, exhausting and I've never been so angry as I have in parenting this little girl, or so sad that she just can't relate to children her own age yet desperately wants a little friend, but I've also laughed twice as much, enjoyed her snuggles that are too hard due to sensory issues, chuckled when she mispronounces 'peanuts' as you can only guess and filled with warmth and hope when I do see the growth.

 

Blessings,

Trish

 

Check into anxious attachment to see what tips and/or recommendations are offered. I am sorry.... I never had to read about that myself.

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We had an adoption attempt fail with 2 girls, siblings, who were ages 4 and 5 when we brought them home. We had done it all correctly - interviewed foster parents, counselors, teachers, social workers, and so on. We began visits slowly... We were not told how severe the issues were - essentially we were lied to by every adult involved. They both had RAD, the 5 yr old the worst. Our house turned into a nightmare for a time. We finally asked to have the oldest removed when it became apparent that we could not protect our son nor her sister from her dangerous behaviors. After she was removed, we were asked to keep the younger and she began to blossom. She became a different kid. She began responding to therapies. She could still be difficult, but it was better. I think we could have made it if the state social worker and one therapist had not decided that they must be reunited and took her away from our home (which then caused some serious emotional damage to our son).

 

For some kids that have been abused or neglected, seeing family is a big trigger for some behaviors. You attend church with an aunt. There will be other family locally that will see you shopping, running errands, and so on. How will you deal with that? What about if they want to visit and spend time with her? What if you run into the biological mom? What if she begins to imply or say that the attention she receives from your dh is inappropriate? If mom is an addict, she may have traded her dds gift for drugs (it happened to more than one foster child in our home) and this child might think that is the best way to get a man's attention. Or, once she learns it is 'bad' use it in spite when she is angry.

 

Or she may turn out to be the most delightful child ever. Only you can make that decision.

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May I say one more thing about what Dobela said? SOOOO many times, the file is just not correct (on top of being woefully incomplete). We went and read our children's file. It was so not what I expected. It was almost nothing in comparison to the 8 cases over 5 years they've had in the system. We learned a few things but not nearly as much as I wanted to know. And so much of it was just obviously wrong too. THankfully, *we* weren't making a decision based on that dismal mess!

 

For us, even placement was wrought with lack of information. There is NO WAY I would have accepted my children had they been honest in the application (btw, it was a foster placement so that *is* a bit different). CPS had a long history with these children and *could have* been more accurate. These kids were our second placement (this time around) and I just wouldn't have felt confident taking a group like them. I had turned other placements down, that week even(!), for sounding like they were.

 

Now, in our case, that turned out okay. We have stumbled through, making plenty of mistakes, but becoming more determined than ever to do whatever we can for these children. We love them and want to be their parents.

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:grouphug:

I have no advice - just wanted you to know I said a prayer for you as make this hard decision.

 

:iagree: Praying for wisdom and peace for you, and a perfect home for the little one.

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May I say one more thing about what Dobela said? SOOOO many times, the file is just not correct (on top of being woefully incomplete).

 

True. And in addition, there may be issues that have not yet surfaced. In our case, dd was 12 mos, so a lot of her stuff hadn't really surfaced yet. She was delayed in walking, but we figured that was because of a broken leg. (That was one bone we were told about...long story that I won't go into). As it turns out, that was just one of many things that pointed to problems down the road.

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