Adoption through the generations

Today we have a post from Laura-Jane – a prospective adoptive parent who needs help with a difficult situation…

My dad is adopted, so is my uncle. They were placed with my grandparents in the fifties, and all that my brother and I know is that they were both relinquished by their mothers in a time when unmarried women were frowned upon. They are both typical of their age – not really talkers, almost retirement age, and content to watch footie on the telly at weekends, with the odd mini-cruise holiday.

Now my partner and I are looking to adopt a child. We know that our social worker will want to generationstalk to my dad, and we know that us adopting a child will bring up some possibly challenging issues for my dad. But he’s completely closed to discussing it with us. Mum and Dad seem happy enough that we are adopting, although to be fair, it’s the only way my partner and I can give them a grandchild, but we really feel we ought to discuss things with him a bit more first. And the only way we *really* know they’re happy, is that they haven’t told us otherwise!

Anyone else had the same challenge to face? How did you get your parent to open up and talk?
We don’t necessarily want to know all about his past – that’s personal to him, but we do want to make sure he understand that adoption is different these days, and that might make it harder for him to support us.

4 thoughts on “Adoption through the generations

  1. honeymummy

    I am not sure I can be much help and our situation was slightly different. However I can understand your concern because I experienced similar when we first decided to look into adoption.
    DH’s uncle is adopted and he only found my FIL 15 years ago (until then FIL believed he was an only child).
    My dad is from a large family (13) children and my gran was effectively a single parent (grandfather always off on benders when not away with navy). My dad had a bad experiece while in short-term foster care (gran having baby no 9).
    Neither our fathers would discuss their situation with anyone (although FIL has become close with his half brother). We worried that our sw would want to talk to them but she was fantastic and said that as long as our fathers did not object to us discussing it with her (or if she felt it was needed eg. If there was potentially a child protection issue) she did not see a reason to invade their privacy. Her interest was in our up bring and our suitability as parents.
    As for our dads (and to be honest DH’s new uncle) I think they were as surprised as we have been over the years since the boys moved in with us – their understanding of the different needs of the boys and the importance of understanding the need to parent our children differently to how they were brought up.
    My dad especially has been able to use his early experience to put himself in the boys’ shoes when they are struggling and support them rather than barking at them to behave themselves (If anything my sister struggles more because she sees my dad showing patience and empathy with my boys and traditional expectations of behaviour with my niece and nephews).
    As for it stirring up memories for your family – none of them have ever openly admitted that it stirred up anything for them but we know that it has and in terms of my dad, it has definitly been for the better.
    I am sorry it is not much help. If possible try talking to the women in their lives (wife, auntie) we initially talked to them about the process and also our dad’s experiences (they were able to fill us in without going into painful details which was enough for us to talk with our sw).
    As for the potentially a sw wishing to speak the your dad, it is my understanding that they cannot force him to be interviewed (neither sets of our parents were interviewed) and the sw should respect this – after all they are assessing your suitability not your parents.

    Good luck

    Honeymummy x

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  2. Fiona

    Its a situation that many adoptees/adopters go through, I can only share my own journey. My younger brother is adopted too (I am -we are not blood related ). His blood mother may have been murdered, I’ve known of this since the 70s. He is now a granddad, and only found out this in the last few years- and he doesn’t want to know about his birth parents ! He’s closed up about it, his daughter wants to know more about her ‘blood’ line, I want to know as it has caused me (at the time-the ‘murderer’ was high profile and prolific) I also think it would help him, as it helped me when I sorted out a bit of my roots. I was older when he was adopted, only seven, but remember clearly the day we went to meet his father. I’m doing my own research, currently, and have a close relationship with my brother too. I realise the sensitivities and emotions that can be awakened.

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  3. Dr Spouse

    We don’t have any similar issues in our families but our SW didn’t want to talk to any relatives that we didn’t suggest (we had to have one family referee).

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  4. Joanne

    I am adopted and adopting. Just tell your social worker, Dad is closed about that issue. Doubt if he even needs to be spoken to, and at most would be something written up in the homestudy as a family dynamic. This is more about you and your nuclear family, do not worry.

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