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(32 Posts)
Hattiehelga Sun 03-Jan-16 15:48:45

Finalisation of our daughter and son in laws' adoption of their now two year old Son happened in August after a long, long and traumatic process made more difficult than it should have been by incompetent Social Workers BUT ...that is a different story.

He is our lovely and lovable fourth grandchild, well settled, happy and confident and just a joy. My daughter tells me that they should now start talking to him about being adopted and about his birth parents. Apparently this is now the recommended way of making adopted children aware - recommended by the "authorities and experts". I am so worried that having settled and obviously feeling a proper family member, this could rock the boat at such an early stage of being with his forever family. We will never know what memories he has from his first nine months in foster care but hope they are diminishing. Surely, talking about adoption now could confuse and unsettle him. I have no experience of any of this and wonder if any Gransnetters have first hand or professional knowledge.

DavidH22 Sun 03-Jan-16 16:09:05

I have an adopted granddaughter who will be five in April and who has been in our family since she was nine months old. She is very settled in a loving, caring home with my eldest son and his wife. They have always taken the view that they will tell her when they feel the time is right for her. I must say that for a child of two I would have thought it a little early no matter what the current thinking is.
As a family we have always avoided the subject in front of the child and my grandson but all the adults in the family know the view of my eldest son and his wife and accept that. Hope that helps a little.

Anniebach Sun 03-Jan-16 16:17:26

Two is too young , they all need to settle as a family and can a two year old understand

ninathenana Sun 03-Jan-16 16:20:36

I'm delighted for you and your family that this little one has found a home with you all.
I have no experience of adoption but personally I think two is too young to take it all in and that it would be best to wait a few years.

nightowl Sun 03-Jan-16 16:26:38

Congratulations Hattiehelga on your fourth grandchild. I have professional experience of adoption, and can perhaps explain that the advice your DD has been given is based on the notion that adopted children should ideally not remember being told they were adopted, but should grow up feeling they had quite simply always known it. That way it never comes as a shock, or a secret, but is simply a part of their life story. It makes no difference to how much they are loved, or makes them any less a part of their family.

Enjoy every moment flowers

Floradora9 Sun 03-Jan-16 16:29:22

Start now so that he will never know any other . Make up a story about how thay wanted a child but did not have any and how they were so lucky to be able to get this lovely child. I fostered for years and my daughter even when under two understood about birth mummies and chosed mummies.
Adopted children always remember how they loved to hear how they were the chosen one. Leave it too long and someone else will tell them and it is devastating .Even if you are the one telling them it is traumatic , children hate secrets kept from them.

ninathenana Sun 03-Jan-16 16:39:53

nightowl explained like that it makes perfect sense.
I knew it was the right thing to tell the child they were "chosen" but I see now the reasoning behind the SS request, and I eat my words smile

Iam64 Sun 03-Jan-16 16:45:22

Congratulations Hattiehelga on your fourth grandchild. I have professional and personal experience of adoption and the comments above are right, it's better for children to grow up always knowing they were adopted than to be given this big news at some future date. Your grandson should have a Life Story book, that arrived with him. Most foster carers are good at helping put this together, with many photographs and information about milestones. It's sad to read the sw was less than helpful but there are a number of books and organisations on line that give useful support to adoptive parents. It's so good to read that he is happy and settled, he's clearly loved.

nightowl Sun 03-Jan-16 16:45:46

nina smile

mcem Sun 03-Jan-16 16:51:03

My daughters were both adopted at 6 weeks of age. Ask them now (39 and 37) what they remember about being told of their adoptions and they'll say 'nothing at all.'
I did exactly what you're worrying about helga and it worked beautifully.
Please do NOT think in terms of sitting him down at what you see as an appropriate time and telling him. Do NOT see it as breaking the news gently.
Let him grow up knowing, accepting it and seeing it as 'no big deal'.
A favourite bedtime story from younger than 2 was the ' Once upon a time there was a happy young couple who had everything in the world that they wanted apart from one very important thing.............
Embroider the story in an amusing and light-hearted way including the garden, the dog, the potential grandparents and cousins etc, etc!
The lady who wanted the baby couldn't grow a baby in her own tummy............
Someone told them about a girl who was having a baby but was sad because she didn't have a home or a family for it. She wanted the best for this special baby so...........

Story ends with 'and the lady and the man were Mummy and Daddy and the very precious baby was YOU!!!!! ' Cue applause!

Some will throw up hands in horror - politically incorrect and naive!!

But it was nearly 40 years ago and it worked.
Grandparents had their doubts back then but we were comfortable with it and wouldn't do it any differently today.

Obviously you have to adapt the story to your family circumstances ( as we did when telling the next generation) but keep it light and joyful.

All our friends and family rejoiced with us at the adoptions and you can't swear a whole community to secrecy!

Adoption isn't a furtive secret - it's a terrific opportunity to share with everyone that you have been entrusted with a great privilege.

I'm happy to discuss this with you - pm if you'd like to - and tell you a few more chapters.

mcem Sun 03-Jan-16 16:54:35

Sorry if I've repeated the last few posts but that saga took me a while to type on this tablet!

mumofmadboys Sun 03-Jan-16 17:00:39

It is lovely to hear happy stories!!

nightowl Sun 03-Jan-16 17:01:50

What a lovely way of doing things mcem smile

Have you been involved in training prospective adopters at all? Because if not you should be.

mcem Sun 03-Jan-16 17:10:39

Thank you nightowl. I haven't been but did call on story-telling experience as a teacher!
Testament to adoption being a family-wide affair - my niece who fits in between my girls in age, is now a SW who works with adopting families and loves her job.
If our adoptions had not been successful I believe she would have chosen a different career maybe.

Andyf Sun 03-Jan-16 20:44:32

We have a friend who is 67 and he's just found out that he was adopted as a baby. His adoptive parents died a few years ago without ever telling him. It was a massive shock to him and his family. He now feels resentment towards his adoptive parents.

Penstemmon Sun 03-Jan-16 20:53:21

I taught an adopted child who thought his gran was his mum and his mum was his sister. When he went to secondary school other kids who knew the family 'secret' told him the truth. He was devastated. Open and honest truth leads to less distress than secrets and half truths.

Loving stories from day one are by far the better way to let a loved child understand who they are and be happy.

mcem Sun 03-Jan-16 20:55:30

That's very sad andy. Apart from SW advice, one reason I told my girls from the outset was because of the experience of friend's cousin.
So anxious were her parents to hide the adoption that they immediately emigrated to Canada. So she didn't know the family left behind but somehow came to learn of her adoption, which she never discussed with her Mum and Dad.
I honestly believe that trying to keep adoption secret is a recipe for unhappiness.
When my girls were older I did share with them the little knowledge we had of their birth mothers.
On a practical level a basic medical history might prove very useful.

Tresco Sun 03-Jan-16 21:25:47

I think secrets in families, whether about adoption or anything else, are ultimately corrosive and destructive. Things have a way of surfacing, sometimes at very awkward times, and causing a lot of upset.
The point about medical history is a good one. A very good friend of mine was adopted, and married a man who was adopted. When she became pregnant she had no answer at all to the questions about family medical history.

Iam64 Sun 03-Jan-16 22:24:54

Many good and positive comments about the benefits of being open about adoption from the start here. Hopefully, children who are adopted now will have as much information as can be gathered about their family of origin, particularly medical histories.

Hattiehelga Mon 04-Jan-16 18:50:00

It was a dull and depressing day again yesterday but you Gransnetters brought sunshine and enlightenment into my day. I cannot say how much I appreciate and value all the advice and private messages I received from so many of you. All that was said has really shed a new light on the anxieties I was feeling and I can see the absolute sense in being open from an early age. The comment from nightowl about not remembering when he was told is so wise and food for thought. When my daughter and I are having a heart to heart I will pass on all that you have said. My heartfelt thanks to everyone.

Iam64 Mon 04-Jan-16 21:23:05

Thanks for your comment Hattiehelga - this kind of discussion is the best of gransnet imo.

nightowl Mon 04-Jan-16 22:21:23

It is indeed Iam

I'm so glad you have had so much helpful support Hattiehelga. I found this thread heartwarming!

grannyqueenie Tue 05-Jan-16 00:12:08

Absolutely the best of gransnet, it's heartwarming to read so many wise, helpful and positive posts. Enjoy every precious moment with those little ones Hattie, how fortunate they are to become part of a loving family who just want the very best for them from the start

grannyqueenie Tue 05-Jan-16 08:19:18

Hattie my post should read that little boy not "those little ones" and he is not "they are"....the perils of posting when it's past my bedtime, oh for an edit facility! smile

Wendysue Tue 05-Jan-16 09:55:43

Congrats to you and yours, Hattie! I don't have any experience with adoption, but think PPs gave you great explanations about the idea of telling the truth so early. It makes perfect sense to me now and I'm glad you see that, too.

In the end, though, it's up to the parents to decide how to move forward. So even if you still thought it was too soon, if they decided to tell the child about it now, you would be unwise to try to stop them, I believe. I know you want what's best for baby but so do they. Also, I kind of hate to admit it, but often it seems young parents will take professional advice over ours, anyway.

Please just enjoy your new GS and let DD (dear daughter) and SIL make the childrearing decisions (but perhaps, you generally do).