An article published last week in the Australian publication Daily Life tells of the difficulties experienced by an English family, after adopting in England before moving to Australia, in what is described as their ‘adoption nightmare’.
Having adopted three children from foster care aged two, five and seven, all from the same family, they found themselves unprepared for the challenges they were to face but also let down by the lack of support available to them.
The adoptive mother describes how “ While we were waiting, we heard awful stories from other adopting parents. We wondered how these people could be so negative – why couldn’t they just be grateful? We were going to love these children so much that there were going to be no problems for us….It turned out to be a nightmare.”
“We had to hit the ground running from the moment the children arrived. You don’t realise just how much hard work and in-your-face children can be.”
“There had been abuse in the children’s birth family, and they had gone back and forth in foster-care homes. Children don’t come from these situations unscathed and they carried some emotional issues with them… One of them had been so used to looking after the other two that it was very hard for him to let go. There were a lot of control issues which made life a battleground at times.”
“Above all, each of the children was so needy and wanted all of me all of the time. After so many traumatic moves they wanted to be sure that they were going to be loved and were staying with us.”
“I didn’t cope with the dramatic changes well – I couldn’t sleep and became very depressed. I didn’t want the children to know for fear of them feeling rejected again. There was little to no outside support throughout this, apart from the social workers who came to check on us, and I was afraid to mention how hard I was finding it in case they took the children away.”
“It would have been great if we’d had some outside support that wasn’t social-work led. It was too intimidating to talk to them.”
“I used my family and friends as sounding boards, but it’s hard enough understanding the problems that your own kids have, let alone the added problems of adopted kids. When you have your own baby, you build up to it, and you usually just have one at a time. We got a hurricane from the moment they came to us.”
“This went on for years and years. We just coped and existed. I actually found the children easier to deal with as they got older, and we now have a very good relationship with them. I don’t have regrets about having them, but it could have been a better experience than it was”.
Samantha Sanders, a Lawyer at Adoption Legal Centre commented
“Unfortunately this is not an uncommon story we hear from adoptive parents. Time and time again adoptive parents are left caring for their children with no support from the agency or Local Authority that have placed the children with them.
It is also common for Local Authorities to withhold the extent of the problems the child has from their earlier experiences to make them easier to place in an adoptive family; this is obviously not good news for the adoptive parents as they need to go into the process with their eyes open to the difficulties they encounter.
Whilst the government are offering more funding to Local Authority’s to encourage adoption, it is extremely important that this funding is used in a way to support the families, as well as the children, who are going through the adoption process. There is no use in recruiting adoptive parents if they are not going to be given the support to enable them to maintain their adoptive family. The support that the Local Authority could offer includes:-
- Adoption Allowance
- Support Groups
- Assistance with contact
- Therapeutic services to adopted children
- Training to meet a child’s special needs
- Respite care
- Mediation an disruption meetings
This list is the minimum of what a Local Authority could offer an adoptive family to ensure that it is a forever family for the child. Obviously the support will vary on the child’s and the adoptive parents needs but it should be made available if the family require it”.
Here at the Adoption Legal Centre we want to make sure that adoptive parents get the support they require at the earliest opportunity instead of waiting until the placement looks like it is going to break down. If you are starting the adoption process or have already adopted and require additional support then please contact our team at the Adoption Legal Centre.