Adopted kids with addictions --what about their birthparents?

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by pepperidge, Feb 13, 2012.

  1. pepperidge

    pepperidge New Member

    Just wondering what those of you with adopted kids with substance abuse problems know about their birthparents history. Both of my adopted kids have major substance abuse in background of birthparents, and even birth grandparents. We didn't find out about one of kids' birth family histories until well after the adoption (I have discovered with both of my kids and two different adoption agencies that we were not given the whole truth, big surprise).

    Anyway, it scares me alot to think about the mix of adoption issues plus whatever genetic predisposition their might be to substance abuse. I am kind of on the fence--do I really go to town and talk about the dangers they may have of substance abuse (some facts would be nice) or will that simply turn off teenagers and perhaps even add to whatever adoption issues they have, thinking that their birthparents were not exactly high functioning?

    Or maybe no matter what you do nothing will make a difference.
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    This is a tough call, I think.
    If you had known early on, you could have woven it into their adoption stories. The details would have grown with their ability to process the information, and they would already have formed their own opinions by now

    But how do you bring it up NOW without sounding like you're just trying to scare them straight?
  3. pepperidge

    pepperidge New Member

    We have talked about it some in the context of why their birthmothers made an adoption plan so it isn't totally new information. we found out more when they were pretty young. I know it won't hurt to talk about the information, but how much to really impress upon them the dangers? Especially given the delays in their own executive functioning development. I am thinking that for both of them going away to college isn't going to happen for a variety of reaosns. They need more time to grow up and that probably means at home, god help us. I wish I could put them somewhere safe for a few years after they turn 18.

    Maybe I need to do some internet research on the genetic predisposition to addiction.
  4. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Let me first say I love my difficult child more than anything in the world, as much as I love my easy child and I would do anything I possibly could to help her become the person she wants to be, happy and successful in life. However:

    The genetic predisposition to addiction is huge. I wish I knew this more 20 years ago. I'm not sure what I would have done differently but if I had know that almost nothing I did would change things perhaps I could have spent more time planning for the future instead of putting out fires. This is going to sound harsh but many times over the past few years I felt like we were just babysitters, saving society from having to pay for her care which turned out to be an enormous expense. Had we not adopted her and if all the other parents hadn't adopted their children, who would have paid for these children to get the mental and pyschological help they so desperately need? At times I feel that a fraud was perpetated on us, that those in the field knew what we were getting into and knew that there was a very good chance that these children would have serious problems growing up and that our families would be stretched and torn apart to the max, and still they did not tell us.

    From all of my experiences and all of the acquaintances I know there are very few adoptions that have not had many of the same heartaches we have had. These are not coincidences, genetics follows a person and does not disapppear because you take that person our of it's genetic environment. Just look at the genetic makeup of so many diseases and it's easy to see how addiction follows the same lines. My difficult child is so much like her bm it's scarey. She has done the same things and become addicted to the same substances and acted the same way and gotten into the same trouble and even has gotten the same tatoos as her bm and she has never met her.

    We did tell our difficult child that her bm had a drug/alcohol problem probably when she was about 12. Whether that made her want to drink and smoke pot because it made her feel closer to her bm or not is anyone's guess. At the time she hated us and thought her bm was a fairy godmother so it's possible.

  5. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    From my experience with social services I believe that full disclosure just doesn't fit in their plan for finding placements. I, of course, have not adopted but the majority of the children I served as a GAL were in adoptive homes or foster homes. in my humble opinion there was nothing "accidental" about limiting the info provided to perspective forever homes. Issues of PTSD, attachment disorders, addition histories etc. where downplayed or conveniently left out of the profile.

    This is one of my "rant subjects" so I won't keep typing. I just think it is very very sad. With so many people yearning for a newborn there isn't any perception of future problems. The younger the child the fewer questions people my experience. As the children age "in the system" I completely believe that previous problems and potential future problems are glossed over by the emotional pitch that each child needs and deserves a "forever" family. Sad. DDD
  6. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    I know my sons birthmom had issues although I am not totally sure of what they were. We did meet her and liked her and knew she came from a different background than us. I do not know for sure she or his birthfather (who we know nothing about) had sa issues.... but I sure believe they did given his history. I may have commented when he was young that he didn't know the sa history in his birthfamily so he would need to take extra care... didn't make any difference though and I don't think it would have made any difference.

    I don't know how things are today in adoption, but i do kind of feel that the risks of adoption were not clear to us. I had no idea of the number of kids who are adopted go on to have other issues. It just felt like we were getting this wonderful baby and of course we would love him and raise him like any other child and he would grow up with certain advantages and things would be hunky dory.....yes there may be some "Adoption" issues but really it was just a different way to build a family. I do know a number of adoptive families where they do not have these kind of issues.

    And my easy child is also adopted and is a very together young woman who has her head on straight.

    So I am not sure what I woudl say or what I would have said differently. I am not totally sure what I would have done differently.... although a part of me intensely wishes i could start over with my difficult child knowing what I know now!!!!

  7. PatriotsGirl

    PatriotsGirl Guest

    In my opinion, it means nothing. I don't know much about adoption so I am speaking from my rear here, but I would think, most people that would give up their child for adoption probably have sa issues. Not all, but I would think, most.

    I knew about our family's genetic predisposition of addiction. My father was a severe alcoholic and my brother was a drug addict. I consistently communicated to my difficult child about this and it made no difference whatsoever.
  8. Tiredof33

    Tiredof33 Active Member

    My niece was attending college and renting a room. One other lady was renting a room and was pregnant. After the baby was born the mother left him with my niece for entire weekends. She would not leave diapers or formula and my niece would bring him to family get togethers.

    I remember one Christmas when he was 9 months old the mother left him with my niece and his bottom was so red with a rash, it looked like he had worn the messy diaper for days (or more). The baby rarely cried. The mother asked my niece to babsysit one weekend and never came back.

    My niece knew the mother used drugs and alcohol during pregnancy, but she was not prepared for the consequences of the drug use. He is 'slow' and my niece sits with him for hours doing homework, but he then makes good grades. The kids pick on him and he goes along because he wants to be liked. A bigger kid was hitting him with a belt on the bus (driver didn't see it, give me a break) and one of the students had it one their phone and was showing it around the school. He came home with welts on his face and arms. When asked about it he said they were just playing.

    At around 7 he was mad at someone and took the scissors and cut up all of his clothes. I watched him one weekend (emergency) and both hubby and I were exhausted when he left. He has to be watched constantly.

    He is close to 13 now and last month he had a friend sleep over. At 2AM they were playing with flashlights so my niece sent nephew to sleep on the couch. The friend is a bed wetter and she did not want him to wet the new sofa. After niece went back to bed nephew gets up and pees all over the sofa. My niece said it was so wet he must have done this twice. He is very spiteful!

    He meets once a week with a psychiatrist and my niece has been told it is going to get much worse when he hits his teens. I don't think she realized exactly how bad things were going to be, she loved him and thought that was enough. Oh, and the mother went on to have 4 more kids that she gave away.

    My exercise friend has 2 adopted children that the parents were addicts. One mother is in prison (after the birth) and the baby (boy) was born with 5 drugs in his system. He is 7 yo and gets violent. Both of the children have many issues mental and physical. My friend said she was told that there is a chance that if either tried the drugs found in their systems at birth they could become instant addicts. (? I haven't researched it , but it sounds logical)

    A friend works with foster parents and there are so many kids that keep getting returned because the foster parents are afraid of them. One of the birth mothers has had 6 babies born with drugs in their system. I get sick to my stomach listening to some of the stories I hear about the birth parents. I still believe God should have made us with auto birth control that we have to have removed to have children!
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2012
  9. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    There are so many tragic consequences for children and alternative parents. Society pays so dearly for the selfish and/or unthinking reproductive choices made by unfit parents. I always keep hoping that there will be changes made in our system that will end the cycle. The older I get the more pessimistic I become. Sigh! What a vicious cycle.

    I do know that locally CPS takes newborns directly from the hospital after birth when the parent has a known history of substance abuse or dangerous parenting. On two occasions I was the advocate for small children via the Court and the Moms were scared to death that when they had their new babies the hospital would notify CPS before they could check out and head out of State. Both tried to circumvent the system with-o success.

    Years ago I used to think that unfit Moms would want to have their tubes tied. How naive I was. DDD
  10. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    I Kept BiPolar (BP) histories secret from my adopted children when they were young. Although, I did educate my easy child/difficult child that he was born an alcoholic and should never drink from the time he was in JH to no avail. When they were teens and they were going wrong I told them a more as qa last ditch effort to pull them back from the made no difference. They had to do it their own way. easy child/difficult child almost lost everything he valued in life due to his drinking before he got sober. He started drinking in HS by stealing liquor from friends while at parties and from us till we got wise and locked it up, and then paying someone to get it for him. In college he was drunk alot but managed to graduate with honors. He continued drinking and was up to 12beers/day when he became delusional and subsequently was sent to a Phop and then to rehab. difficult child#2 got started at age 16 on pot then used crack and ecxtacy and boose. He is still a train wreck and currently has several felony thefts and two assaults on his record. He came from a very damaged birth family but we got him at age 3 months. No amount of therapy, medications or nurturing helped him. They both had private schools, private tutors, all manner of interventions, camps, a church up-bringing and lots of family dinners and functions. As my daugher, easy child#1 says, "Mom did everything right and they still used". It stinks... this death of dreams, beliefs and idealogy that I was forced to suffer. I went from believing "love conquers all" to "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree" as a result of my experience with my two adoptees. For me I often feel all I have to show for my efforts is that I gave them a safe and happy childhood. somehow I have to make that enough for the years I put in and the sacrifices of career and health I made. Yes easy child/difficult child has gotten HIMSELF together to a certain degree but it is still early in his recovery and he still is somewhat in denial. As for difficult child#2? I fear he never will live a good life. But honestly, I do not think having the information about their BPs any earlier would have made a difference.
  11. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    My daughter who BECAME a drug addict had no birth history because she came from Korea. But I'd bet my bottom dollar one of her birthparents abused drugs.

    For my two adopted children whose birth history I know about, I have told both of them that they would have to be very careful even if they tried one drink of alcohol. Sonics birthmother was a long time addict who had given birth to four drug affected kids before Sonic. She had been in rehab eleven times and had walked out each time. Sonic was born with cocaine in his system. It was harder to tell him about her because she disregarded him so callously...literally gave birth high as a kite, named him and left the hospital AMA. But we did tell him, slowly, that she was "sick" and that her sickness was drug well as making sure he knew and understood that this could happen to him if he ever tried to do any drugs or to drink. He never has. With his autism and fear of the unknown, he would probably not...he is just not interested. But if we are wrong...oh boy.

    Jumper's birthfather is a career drug addict and in and out of jail. We were more direct with Jumper. She shocked us by looking up her birthfather's mug shot in jail! Fortunately, we could tell her that her birthmother was great and never abused anything and she is more like her birthmother (mellow and sensible) than her birthfather. We have told her many times that any time she experiments, it would be a bigger risk for her than her friends and so far (crossing fingers, eyes, toes) she hasn't.

    I have heard at an adoption seminar that not only are adopted kids more likely to abuse drugs if their birthparents did, but that if their birthparents were criminals they are more likely to end up in jail too. Genetics are extremely powerful. But nurture comes into play too.


    I get very angry when social workers hold back information from adoptive parents. What good does that do??
  12. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Well... I hate to sound cold and calloused, but... what it really does is get kids "out of the system" where they are somebody else's problem. It isn't right, and it isn't fair, but for the most part, it does play into the picture. Its the main reason why multiple couples we are friends with have chosen to remain childless rather than adopt.

    WAY back, when I was a kid, there was "some" recognition that history mattered. They still didn't tell you much... but, adoptive families were split into two streams - the "blue ribbon" stream, and the "others". If you were "blue ribbon", you got the babies that came from the "best" situations... the "others" got the rest. That wasn't fair either - I know families from both streams.
  13. Mama Raygun

    Mama Raygun New Member

    Wow, this is a-tough one!! My heart wants to say that it's the environment and love a child is raised with not the genetics but that's very controversial. My sister adopted a baby girl at birth almost 1 yr ago, the birth mom was involved in gangs and stuff like that we aren't sure about drugs. The father is unknown. When I think of my precious little niece it seems impossible that she would grow up to be bad just because of her genes, but I know that addiction as well as other mental issues are hereditary so it's hard. As far as when and if to tell them the parents issue, i think it would be different depending on the child, maturity level, situation ect.. My son is 12 and I sat him down this summer and told him in not so many details about my past addiction and also that his paternal grandmother was a heroin addict. ( she is actually clean 6 yrs now ) just so he would know he has a higher chance of developing a problem than other kids. I don't know if doing that was right or wrong I did it out of pure fear. He was starting 7th gd and is the same age I was when I got started down my bad road. I want him to fear that. There are so many people out there with wonderful families and no family history who become addicts so it's just so hard to predict.
  14. pepperidge

    pepperidge New Member

    Thanks for your input. I guess all we can do is to point out to our kids what the genetic predispositions they might have are, what they choose to make of the information is theirs. Once you have provided decent parenting it really is in their hands and it is good to be reminded of that. Has anybody seen any good statistics around the notion of if you can get them to a certain age without using they are more likely to remain sober?

    But you know I just get really angry thinking about these alcohol and drug abusing kids having babies. It is so hard to raise kids with fetal alcohol or other brain damage. Ok this is going to get me into big trouble, but you know sometimes I have trouble with people who seem to think that it is so wonderful to bring these kids with major issues into the world to be raised either by own dysfunctional families in many cases or perhaps in some others, by adoptive families, many or most of whom don't really know what they are getting into. I see the toll it takes on families here. And I look at my own kids and at the limitations of their development and how society basically treats them as "bad" kids when really they are fighting a major uphill battle. Not trying to start a major discussion here, just venting
  15. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Pepperidge if there was a like button I would have hit it. Sent you a pm.