After all we have decades of being favourite uncles having been involved in the lives of our nieces and nephews and more importantly lots of experience of looking after children – often taking them away for weekends or even full holidays – not to mention some hands-on parenting experience for me after moving in with an uncle and young cousins to help out when he left my aunt and also being with a close friend on a daily basis raising her two youngest for a number of years. Then on top of that at the suggestion of our social worker my partner became a teachers assistant, he has an amazing way with children, so much time and patience for them and he loved this work.
During the prep course we were indeed warned that no amount of experience could prepare us for the reality of becoming adoptive parents and to be honest we listened and took note, but with a certain amount of conceit and arrogance we did think that we probably had more experience than most and maybe it never applied to us quite as much.
In addition we were told of the ‘complications’ and ‘difficulties’ of a child damaged by being removed from their birth family and taken into care, but fundamentally they were children and we would be older, mature parents so of course we could cope with that.
This put us in the horrible position of ‘child shopping’ through other agencies, how on earth do you choose children from the – sadly – many available? Every child was of course a possibility and in fact we wanted to adopt them all, but trawling through web sites and magazines some pictures spoke to us more than others.
What was it that made certain children stand out we don’t know, maybe the vanity of seeing something of ourselves in their faces, maybe something sub conscious. We can’t say, but after a couple of false starts we were sent the full report of our two future sons and something felt very right.
On reflection we see that their agency were a little deceitful and initially withheld some pretty important information from us until we were very much ’emotionally’ committed, it finally came out that both boys had been diagnosed with severe attachment disorder, to be fair the family finder and their social worker both stressed that they felt the diagnoses to be questionable and in their opinion the boys showed no real signs at all. In addition we were told that the youngest ‘may’ be affected by ‘Foetal alcohol syndrome’ (FAS) and had been displaying some quite troublesome behaviour at school.
Do you walk away because it suddenly looked a bit tougher than you expected? We already felt an attachment to the boys and reasoned that you can not guarantee anything with childbirth and going into something with your eyes open and aware of issues is an advantage birth parents don’t have.
So maybe it was not about to be ‘easy’, but of course we could cope, of course we would be great parents, of course we would be gentle, quiet, rational, reasoned and considered in our parenting – because we were mature and that’s how we were with children.
But in fact – we aren’t.
Our sons are wonderful little boys, they are loving and affectionate and we do feel that the attachment diagnoses was quite simply wrong. Potentially there may be issues with the youngest and maybe it is to a small degree FAS, but we are not convinced its anything more than ‘anger’ for what he has been through. His mis behaviour at school has stopped and its now directed at us at home, which we do see as an achievement as we feel it is a sign that he is secure enough with us to let it out.