Need adoption advice for child with ODD

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by MollyC, Oct 12, 2011.

  1. MollyC

    MollyC New Member

    This is my first time here. I've been researching ODD and found you all. I'm battling an internal struggle and need some advice from people who've been there. I'll try to keep it short. We have 2 foster children. They're half-siblings. One has been with us since birth. She'll be turning a year soon. She's a sweetheart, and our family has really bonded with her. Her brother is 5 and suffers from ODD. He's been with us for over a year. We've given a large amount of time and energy to him, and he's made significant improvements. The bond suffers though. I also have four other children. Our foster children are now in need of adoption. Our family will soon be relocating to another part of the country, so a decision has to be made. In all honesty, I want to adopt his sister, but not him. It's making me feel so very guilty. They may not even split them up, so we lose them both. I just don't know how much more of him we can handle as a family. It's really good for him to be with us, but the opposite isn't true. We all suffer for him. I can do it. I think it's the right thing to do, but is it fair to adopt a child that makes the lives of my other children and my husband so very difficult? Is it fair to do that to them? But will he be okay without us? Will anyone else ever adopt him? I'm so afraid that I'm sending him to a grim future when I know I have it within my power to prevent that. But at what cost? This is my struggle. Please help with any advice you might have.
  2. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    Have you had testing done for him? Like neuropsychologist, Occupational Therapist (OT), Speech Language Pathologist (SLP), ect... You talked of his attachment being off. Does he have Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)? What is his history? How dangerous is he for the other kids?

    Sorry I don't have an advice for you. Just more questions.
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I've adopted four kids. I'd be shocked if they seperated the siblings. And after having adopted a Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) kid who was so disturbed he had to leave our family, I personally don't think it's worth disrupting the lives of your other kids. I think these difficult kids are better off in homes where the kids are much, much older or where there are no other kids at all. It is hard to get older adopted kids to bond with you and they are very difficult without that bond. Unless you are 100% sure of his background (and nobody ever is), he could even end up sexually abusing your other kids...our adopted son did that. You're taking a big chance if you jump in. Sounds like he is affecting everybody negatively.

    My vote would be to think it over very carefully and remember that he will not always be so small and cute.
  4. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Hi and welcome. This is a good place to ask because adoptive child or not, people here do know what it takes to raise a child with severe challenges. I am an adoptive mom of a child with many issues, including severe opposition and aggression. I promise to write a response but want to think first so I can be really honest with you. In the mean time I think it is wonderful that you have given him a chance and that you are thinking it through. Keep checking back because I am willing to bet the wonderful people here (some adoptive parents some bio some relative carers) have really been thru this.

    Welcome again, I'll be back!
  5. MollyC

    MollyC New Member

    Thank you for the replies. Before he came to us, we were told that he had been diagnosed with ODD. He's classified as medically complex/special needs because of this. He does have Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). He was dangerous, and had been removed from a shelter for seriously injuring another child. I was told that it was most likely an accident. I know now that it wasn't. I wasn't given the exact nature of his behavior, and it was worse than I even imagined. He was dangerous to other children (physically and sexually), but with therapy and really, really hard work on our family's part, that behavior has diminished. I think he could still be dangerous. Since entering our home, he's never been left unsupervised. I do worry about what will happen when he's bigger than us if we adopt him, and the ODD doesn't subside. I've never had any testing done on him, and I never asked DCYF if they had. I thought the needed testing would have been done for the diagnosis. This is my first experience with ODD. I could use all the advice and recommendations you might have to offer.
  6. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    You have a very hard decision ahead of you.

    All 4 of mine were adopted via foster care. Eeyore was the most significantly behavior disordered of the group, and we had a psychiatrist recommend we dissolve his adoption and several family members expressed deep concern. Yet, except when he sneaks wheat, he is doing very well, often on honor roll, etc.

    Kanga had years of therapy, many psychiatric hospital stays, many medications, etc and is still violent, defiant and severly mentally ill. She ended up being placed out of our home at 13; but we were very lucky to get grant funding for that as our adoption subsidy did not cover the extremely high cost.

    Which way will your foster son go??? I don't know. Has he attempted to harm other people? animals? himself? Does he have issues with inppropriate bowel movements? Was he sexually abused? Was he drug-exposed in utero? Do you know the birthparents mental health and/or substance abuse history?

    You can do all the research but it is going to come down to your and your husband's gut feelings. If either one of you have serious misgivings, you need to listen to them. Adoption is forever, and some of the services he receives as a foster child will disappear after an adoption. But, without the adoption, you may lose him or both of them.
  7. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    I don't have lots of experience with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). From my understanding the prognosis is not good and he'll probably do better out of a family setting. But that is just from what I've learned from reading posts here. So there are others here with better understanding of the illness.

    The state hospital here takes kids as young as 6.
  8. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    You were posting at the same time I was. A child with his history should never have been placed in a home with younger children, even (or possibly especially) his younger sister.

    ODD is a lazy diagnosis. There is something very wrong with that young boy. Clearly at least a history of sexual abuse and violence, orginally as victim and now as predator. If you still wish to persue this adoption, I would DEMAND a full neuropysch (including personality testing, reality testing, etc.)
  9. MollyC

    MollyC New Member

    They think he was sexually and physically abused. His other sister died in the home with him present, and he still remembers it. His mother suffers from mental illness. His father has never had any involvement. He came to us at age four and a half and was still in diapers. He spoke jibberish. He didn't know any of the things a child his age should have known. Personally, I know I can do this. I also know my family as a whole can't. Maybe I just need someone to tell me it's okay, so I don't feel guilty about this for the rest of my life. I also worry for his sister. What if the next foster home doesn't protect her from him?
  10. Liahona

    Liahona Guest

    Is it possible to get him into an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) before you move? Then would it be more likely they would let you adopt the girl? I know nothing about the foster care system. It is just an idea.
  11. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    It is okay. Sometimes we must make choices that break our hearts.

    I would have a long talk with the caseworker. If the caseworker also feels that he is a danger to his sister, she may be willing to let you keep her.
  12. keista

    keista New Member

    It is OK. You should not feel guilty. You are stuck between a rock and a hard place, because you want to save these two little ones, but the price you pay may be your other children and husband. No matter what you decide, someone is going to suffer. BUT you don't really know that. What if the next family to take these two is the one that was really meant to? What if they are able to build on your successes and be even more successful because they had no other children to start with and could devote more time and resources to them.

    Yes, I know your mind naturally goes to the negative possibilities, it's the protector in you. However, a positive outcome for these children without you is equally possible. Do you want to deny them of that possibility? At your family's expense?
  13. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    After reading your last post, I strongly recommend you not do it. He is dangerous to others and was sexually abused. For all you know he sexually acts out already. How old are your OTHER kids? What if he got a knife and held it to their throats (our adopted son did this and my kids did exactly what he told them to do because they believed he would do it and he could have). He killed two of our dogs in a very cold way, although we didn't know for sure that it was him at first...he blamed it on some racist neighbors and we were unsure. But when my youngest started getting yeast infections...well, that was happening too much for one so young...he admitted he had sexually abused her in the worst possible way (use your imagination) and it had gone on for a long time. He also did this to the two boys. We also think he killed a cat who mysteriously disappeared and my daughter says she saw him trying to choke a neighbor's cat, but when Daughter spotted him he let it go. There are three big red flags for budding sociopathy:
    1/pooping and peeing inappropriately (our child did it all over the house, in closets, etc...then blamed it on the dog)

    2/Interest/fascination with fire (we found out after R. left that he used to love to set little fires on the rug in his room and he'd play with matches, scaring the younger kids, telling them if they told on him he'd burn the house down)

    3/Cruelty to animals

    Since I've been there done that, I always tell people who want to adopt and have other children that it is safest for their other kids if they only adopt infants. The younger the better. If your foster son saw his sibling die, this child is going to struggle all of his life...and do you really want ALL of you to do that?

    I have learned that we can't save every child. When we adopted our Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) child, we did not know he had Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). His profile was very mild with no behavioral issues. He was good at holding it in and his ex-foster mom thought he was a great kid. We wanted to share our loving home with an older boy of color as they have the hardest time finding families. It was the biggest mistake of our lives. We did not help him by adopting him. And he almost destroyed everybody else. We are doing well now, but he is not a part of our lives and nobody misses him. I guess this is when hub and I learned that love is not enough and that we can't save them all. We never fostered or adopted again.

    Hugs...hope you can find peace in whatever decision you make.
  14. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Your concerns are very valid and well thought out. My heart says take him and give him a chance and then the kids can stay together for sure. You are right, unless they can say for sure he would be a danger to her, she is likely to go with him and both are likely to bounce around in the system since he is so tricky. Or he might be placed if, as they did with you, they may downplay some of the behaviors just to get him in a home. (That happened to me with twin girls I was selected to adopt. I ended up turning the placement down and it was the most painful thing in my life. They both had Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and were starting fires etc. County tried to flatter me saying but with me it would be different, no you dont need counseling and Residential Treatment Center (RTC) covered in teh adoption agreement etc. I refused to adopt because I didn't think it was fair to them to deny them the specialized treatment they likely would need in the future). I dont like the idea of separating them except, in the case of a kiddo with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)????? really may be best.

    If you do decide to adopt I would have specific wording in the contract that says if MA doesn't cover any requested therapies or treatment, specialized daycare, camps, specifically including residential treatment and/or residential care that the county will pay for it. See if you can get him on an MA waiver now, as part of the will stick with him as long as he has these disabilities and you fill out the paper work to show it. In addition ask for a monthly stipend in the form of a check for at least 500 dollars. I have that for my son who is very involved. It all goes to his care. My contract for the son I did adopt said they would cover all of the non-MA covered things at 75% and believe me, that helped when I was once able to find a daycare who would try to work with him. He was there one year so it helped. That way if it turns out he is not improving and you need to parent him via Residential Care, you are still parenting him but keeping the familiy safe.
    Even with that protection, it could really stress the family and hurt the others for sure. I personally chose not to adopt any more because my son needed so much. I was offered another child to adopt and I turned it down for both of their sakes. It broke my heart.
    My mind says, no heart says yes--but be very smart about it. I hope you stay in contact regardless to help you work through issues as his foster mom. ODD is only one part of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) that is super hard to handle. Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) can be worked with IF you have specialized care, but that is a huge IF and it takes up so much time that other kids could really suffer. And Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is on a spectrum of sorts like Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), not all are animal killers, fire starters etc. But it sounds like this little boy is really broken. Poor little man. He may do better in a one child home, a single parent home or somewhere where he does not have to suffer from divided attention. I would hate for anyone to give up on him yet, given you have seen so much improvement. So would not want to see him go to residential for now...but there may come a day since bonding can stay a life long issue and so some people just do better not having to bond to a parent. With that pressure off, they succeed in other areas. You would have to be God to know the future, but you do know that no matter what happens later, for now and the short future, it is very difficult.
    What does your hubby say? Did you already mention that? Just curious, you dont have to tell us.
  15. MollyC

    MollyC New Member

    Thank you all so much. I'm so glad I came here. I've cried many tears over this decision, but I know I have to make it. God bless all of you who do this for your entire lives. You're saints.
  16. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Risk of harm overrides family connection - plus these are half-sibs, not full - and not overly close in age, but the older one would not likely have been her "caregiver" (as, say, a 9yo might have).
  17. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Yes, poor little man...
    You are facing a heart-breaking decision. You also have to consider the needs of many other people, not just this little boy. It has been said that you should not feel guilty... this is right but... you will feel guilty. That's just what arises and you really can't stop that feeling. You can't shut down on yourself and say "No! Don't feel that!" It is normal and natural to feel guilty, that is what I think. But that does not mean that you are doing something bad or wrong if you decide you cannot adopt this little boy with so many special needs and such a difficult past.
    I would say the same as buddy - my mind would say no, my heart would say yes... You could possibly turn this child's life around but I think the balance of probabilities is that you won't. Too much damage has been done to him too early. It is also hard to sanction splitting up the children and taking his sister away from him. You really have to consider what is best for the children, all the children.... Is there any possibility they could be fostered/adopted by people who are really geared up to and suited to dealing with this special needs child and who don't have other children. I agree strongly that if there was a way for you to stay in touch with him/them, that should be encouraged. This will of course be another loss for him.
    What do you do? So much heartache in this situation. Thank you for coming here and being so honest with your posting and your dilemma. My heartfelt wishes go out to you.
  18. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    My heart breaks for you, and the brother and sister.
    You've already gotten some great advice and insight here. Not much I can add except hugs.
  19. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Sending caring hugs your way. I have never fostered or adopted but I did court volunteer work for years as a GAL. I was saddened by the system's methods of insisting on joint placement, underidentifying severe issues etc. In some cases I believed it was ignorance on the part of authorities. Sadly in other cases I was sure, and am still sure, that it was a method used to manipulate foster/adopt families. Love does not conquer all. If it did this CD family would likely not exist because many of us have dedicated out lives to difficult child's...and have relinquished quality of life for out other blood related children.

    I have yet to know a foster/adopt family with a major difficult child who looks back at their choice to become "a forever home" with happiness. Some have coped better than others but joyful is rarely the description. The dysfunction does not end at eighteen either.

    You and your husband are the only ones who can make the decision that is right for your entire family. Although one of the CD family members accurately described that you have to "contract" with the State to cover future hospitalizations, Residential Treatment Center (RTC)'s etc. we have very loving, kind members who took on challenged children and the State is not and will not provide the services that they agreed to provide at the time of adoption. One of our older members is a saint. She is now facing adult placement issues and is getting thwarted at every turn. On a regular basis she is being encouraged to care for her almost adult children "with outside supports" and as much as she loves her difficult child's she is no longer financially nor physically capable of doing so. Government ends up looking at the economic bottom line more and more closely each year. I would not trust any promises.

    I am sending caring supportive thoughts your way. I'm sorry that you were misinformed. Relocation may give you the opportunity to make changes toward normalcy. Hugs. DDD
  20. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    DDD, great post, although we did adopt Sonic from foster care and he seemed on the verge of being a major difficult child (he really isn't...he is just on the autism spectrum, but has not behavioral issues anymore). We are glad we adopted him!

    HOWEVER...back to the child we adopted and had to give up for everyone's sake (his included).
    When we called the state we adopted him from and talked to the social worker who had introduced us and facilitated the adoption, we told her what had happened. Do you know what she said?

    That was it. Not even sympathy.

    Until our legal ties to R. were severed in court, we had to pay child support to the state on top of trying to keep the other kids, and ourselves, in counseling. CPS covered some of our costs, thankfully. They were very sympathetic and told us a child like him can not function in a family setting and should not have been placed with us. Of course, nobody really knew he was "a child like this." At any rate, it cost us a lot of money. No matter what is put into the adoption agreement, there is no guarantee they will honor it.

    It is sad that they keep difficult child's siblings from having families because of their brother's/sister's issues. I knew a few families who wanted to adopt half of a sibling pair and were denied the chance. It was a loss/loss all the way around...hopefully another family, without other kids, will want to adopt the two of them.