Was it the right thing?

An anonymous post today from an adoptive mum..

Contact with birth family has been a double edged sword for me. As a good, eager new adoptive mum you want to feel you are doing the right thing for your child. Identity, links, etc…So when I heard that my new daughter had brothers and sisters also adopted in the North West I did not hesitate. I wanted to meet them. She was 2 then..

For me initially it meant getting to know 2 lovely couples whose pain and grief and loss around infertility was palpable, it soaked the atmosphere and clouded the conversation and was the endless backdrop to their struggles with their adopted children, my daughter’s birth siblings. What if, what if…My route to adoption was different. I went on to have a baby. And then I adopted again, because I am hardwired for hope.

Twelve years ago when we first got the children together and watched them with each other you couldn’t help but be struck by their physical and other similarities. The girls in particular were peas in a pod. All 3 being raised in very different families but exhibiting the same exhausting behaviours. We were all on our knees. Mine was the youngest. Over the years that we had contact I watched with horror as the other families went through hell once their daughters hit adolescence. Absconding, drunkenness, violence, self harm, shoplifting, lying, stealing, exclusion 2015-07-14 19.09.49from mainstream schools, promiscuity. We would visit and they would weep. Both older girls were returned to care at the age of 13 and ended up in specialist residential provision. I dreaded the passing of time as my own girl was becoming less manageable. Surely she would not be that bad??

Fast forward.. Became sexually active at 12. Meets boys in the park for sex. Abusive to me and her little brothers. Knocks holes in walls. Struggles to cope in a mainstream high school. Steals. Lies. Absconds regularly. We are bombarded with police and social workers for 2 years. She is officially a Child In Need. I am going under. I beg the social worker to get her into secure accommodation. I cannot keep her safe. She turns 14. She refuses to be parented.
She visits her birth sister who lives 3 hours drive away and is all grown up at 20. She flatly refuses to return home. We have the discussion with the sister. Social Services are monitoring the situation. In theory.

It is now 8 months on. Peace has descended on our family. My other 2 children are literally blossoming living without their beautiful but very wonky sister. I came off medication. We moved house. We adapted. And yet…

The gnawing anxiety continues for me. My daughter left home at 14 without a backward glance. I could never have predicted it. What normal kid does that? In some sense she must have felt she belonged there.

So you see for me….Contact with birth family changed all our futures. And I am not sure yet if it was the right thing to do. Time will tell.

5 thoughts on “Was it the right thing?

  1. suzanne

    So sorry to hear your story- I fear the same will happen with my GD. Knowing so much more about her background than the adopter will. however I can hope all she will get is a repeat of my Sons behaviour- as long as the adopter has a good supportive family and she has someone to help guide my GD like brother did my son.
    This is not just an adopters story. This happens to all families in all walks of life. So sad for the children. The group meetings could just as easlily have been cousins.
    all the best for your future. Maybe one day she will look back on her life and want to find you.
    It is more than I have at this moment in time,that hope will fade or grow depending entirely on the effort of the adopter.

    Reply
  2. Mark

    I’m sorry, but I just don’t see the connection between her behaviour and contact with her siblings as you have presented it. Personally, I feel that it could have exacerbated a situation, but that the issues within your family must surely have already been cemented.
    If (???) she has severe attachment issues then I can see how she can just turn away from you, however it bothers me hugely that ALL the blame seems to be aimed at the child.
    The two adoption break downs I know off – which happened around this age – were NOT the child’s fault at all.
    As an adoptive parent I had a turning point in my parenting where I stopped thinking I was dealing with my child’s misbehaviour and realised that it was about dealing with my inability to understand that behaviour and to deal with it – things are not perfect now (and we still have the teenage years ahead of us), yet it was a break through moment that improved my relationship with my children, their behaviour and our family life.
    I don’t want to sound self righteous – I sure as hell know it’s not easy – yet I struggle so much with comments such as ‘I beg the social worker to get her into secure accommodation’ because would you have even considered this an option for dealing with your birth child???
    If not then has it crossed your mind that SHE has picked up on the difference in your attitude towards her and her sibling?
    Sorry if this feels like an attack, but there are two sides and I just don’t see the other side presented on any level in this blog.

    Reply
    1. michelle swann

      Ouch. Mark. This was about how contact with birth siblings can have unforeseen consequences. I really could do without your judgment, ignorant as it is. Of course it is never the child’s fault, they are victims of their birth family’s choices eg: prenatal drug abuse. They are also in some cases victims of poor quality foster care. I have 3 children. I love them all and I do my best for them all. My eldest adopted child (I have 2) had such extreme behaviour that she put herself at risk every day. I did my best to keep her safe. That’s what parents do. It’s our job. I asked for help from the SW to do this. I accessed all the services I could. Shame on you for your harsh words. I wish you well with your children through all the ups and downs ahead. Adoptive parents are doing amazing work and should be supporting each other. I am sorry that you feel the need to criticize me.

      Reply
      1. Mark

        Michelle.
        It was not about criticising you, it was questioning the blog – which is all we have to go on. I pointed out that it was very one sided and why I have reason to question some of what you have written, or at least how it has been portrayed. Re reading my comment it does seem harsh and I apologise for that, we all have it tough and its clear that maybe you tougher than many and I truly feel for you for that.
        I do get very frustrated when parents fail to see their faults and do not accept responsibility or blame – I have NO idea if that is the case for you and I have no right to suggest it is and again I apologise if that is the way it came across. I was just trying to point out that it’s dangerous to read blogs and simply assume the reality to be how it is presented.
        I wish you and your family all the very best x

        Reply

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