considering adopting 4 year old

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by MaryWhiteFace, Jun 6, 2009.

  1. MaryWhiteFace

    MaryWhiteFace New Member

    I am a foster parent of a 4 year old girl. She is undiagnosed but obviously has serious and severe ODD. (probable victim of sexual abuse).

    My Observations:

    Hurting other children in home when irritated or not irritated (ie.. pushing them harshly without warning for no obvious reason, poking eyes, scratching.. you name it).

    Swearing, lying and talkback.

    Sexually acting out as a means to annoy and control.

    Does not respect or listen or follow rules, expectations or directions (unless in she wants to).

    Hurting bugs and smiling.

    Smiles with most negative behavior or will even laugh when people get hurt.

    Constant defiance... not matter what. Almost enjoyalbe for child.

    Does not respond to time outs.

    Bio mom and dad both drug addicts and criminals

    Too young for "diagnosis or medications".. especially since foster child .. resources are limited.

    Let's just say it is hard to put into words, but it is constant and disturbing for most to see. She is good at preschool though (which i don't understand).

    She has been defiant at previous foster placement (so it isn't just me) and responds the same to all my family memebers.

    Am I just stupid to consider adopting this child into my family. I already have her older bio sister... so I feel obligated in some sense.

    Can this get better? I am fearful it won't as I have seen no changes in this year and his bio family history.

    Should I run and protect my other children for potential long term problems. Could this end up destroying my happiness and my family. It currently causes me fatigue and irriation but somehow I manage.

    thanks for any help.. mary
  2. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Hi MaryWhiteFace. Welcome to our forum.

    Here is a link to a thread where a mom asked a very similar question. There's some very good advice as to what to think through and be prepared for if you do decide to go forward.

    We've seen many outcomes when families adopt kids with serious issues, but it's never an easy road. Some families survive it, some don't. Some siblings are harmed while others prove more resiliant. In extreme cases we've had families who have had to abort the adoption or turn custody back to the state for various family or financial reasons.

    Most of the time there is a lot more than ODD going on (ie mental health diagnosis's, Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), etc). I'm confused as to why you were told age 4 is too young to diagnose or treat because early intervention is the best hope for a better outcome. I would not even consider adoption until a full multidisciplinary evaluation had been completed.

    It's not uncommon for a child with issues to be able to hold it together in school but not at home. I always think that they only have so many "functioning units" and they shoot the wad at school and have nothing left for home.

    None of us can tell you what choice is the best for you and your family, but we will tell you to consider carefully the ramifications and under no circumstances should you feel obligated because you have a bio-sibling. Sometimes the best thing for siblings with serious issues is not to house multiples in the same household.
  3. house of cards

    house of cards New Member

    How many other kids are in your home? You have to know your limitations. I said "no" to a new born, a sister to my Angel, I knew I didn't have the energy left to raise her properly. She ended up in a good (not great) home, 1 of 2 kids. She wasn't my responsiblity and I know I made the right decision for us but it still haunts me some.

    I would be very concerned about the problems you mentioned with this little girl. If you are going to move forward, I'd want to slow the process down and get actual diagnoises and counselling in place.

    How many prevoius placements did she have? What if any mental health issues are in the bio family tree? Sorry, I have a lot more questions then answers.

    I would say if you are going to adopt a child with heavy problems it would be best to have that child be the youngest (so the older ones can protect themselves to some degree). Are you lookinhg for this to be your last adoption?
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2009
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi, Mary.

    If you are already exhausted in my opinion don't do it. We had to say "no" as well, and, looking back, I'm very relieved that we did. Adopting disturbed children can be a lifelong sentence.

    If she is sexually acting out, that means she has been sexually abused. Four year olds don't act out to get attention or to annoy. It IS about control, but it's so frightening for the other children. I wouldn't want a child I knew sexually acted out. And if she is hurting bugs and smiling I'd make darn sure you didn't own any pets. She may harm them or even kill them.

    I adopted actually SIX kids. Two were disruptions--one sweet boy through no fault of his own (long story) but the other because he sexually abused our other kids and killed two of our dogs. After the dust has settled, I would not encourage anyone to adopt an older child. My guess is that the severe ODD is probably attachment disorder (Google it up). It is VERY hard to treat and to deal with and doesn't get better because you love the child.

    It may be in the entire family's best interest not to add her to the family. The biological connection isn't everything. In the end, it's your call. Good luck!!!
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2009
  5. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member


    Please don't be offended by my reply but you should run and protect your other children. This will not get better and it will end up very likely destroying your entire family. I wish I could say different or offer some real hope but I don't have any.

    If you decide to go ahead with this, please make sure you apply for any adoption subsidies available. The agency knows the background of this child and they cannot deny that you will be in need for some very substantial monetary help and support.

  6. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    I feel very similarly to what Nancy has written.

    The chances of improvement are very slim. Are you the type of person that can cope well with this? There are other children in the willl they cope with this stress and with an overly burdened mother? You are aleady feeling fatigue, surely adding another special needs child to the mix will only greatly increase issues and likely overwhelm you and your family.

    Do you have many good friends and relatives at your disposal who will lend you a hand should you need much support down the road?

    I agree with Nancy, should you decide to go forward with this, ask about adoption subsidies to help with likely financial needs. However, we know that money does not solve all the problems. It can just be of help. Please be aware of this.

    Wishing you wisdom, peace and insight.
  7. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    To Nomad's questions I would also add:
    Are you in solid financial shape?
    If applicable, how does the state that you live in rank in terms of providing mental health services?
    If you are employed, is your employer flexible?

    I'm sorry that we couldn't offer more positive responses, but it's not our way to sugarcoat things around here. The combination of the history of the bioparents, the sexual abuse in early childhood and the extent of the behavioral problems is going to make things very difficult for this little one and those who care for her. Most children with this cluster of issues will need ongoing treatment, and many wind up needing very expensive residential care along the way. Should you choose to go forward, do so with your eyes wide open.
  8. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I have to agree with-the others.
    She sounds like she needs deep, heavy duty work, and I would look out for your other children first.
    I understand the feeling of obligation with-siblings, but they are still individuals and just being together cannot heal this little girl.
    Poor thing.
  9. pepperidge

    pepperidge New Member

    I think you have received some great advice from other members to proceed extremely cautiously if at all on this adoption.

    Dealing with one troubled child is dfficult enough. Adding another to the mix makes it way way harder because you are also dealing with all the interactions among the various family members. As my children get older I realize that we are way beyond the difficulties of preschool type issues. As they move into teenagehood, the potential for them to do real harm to themselves and others is frightening and ups the ante in terms of what it could do to your own mental and physical and financial health and that of your spouse.

    I wouldn't do it unless you and your husband have incredible time, energy, financial and emotional resources and incredibly good connections to a very large and dedicated community of mental health professionals.

    Sorry to be so negative. But if you haven't seen an improvement in a year and the child is in a good stable environment it suggests that the issues are deep seated and that they are going to need a lot of intensive intervention and probably cause a fair amount of acting out along the way.

    It must be very difficult to see such a troubled child and not want to help and I admire you for wanting to do so. Please think about yourself and the rest of your family as well. Some of us are well suited for sainthood, others of us unfortunately have our all too human limitations.

    Good luck with your decision.
  10. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    It sounds like this decision will haunt you for years to matter which way you decide to go.

    It would be my first instinct to say "No way!"

    But then, I might wonder how her sibling will feel? Why do we have to send her sister away? And I might wonder if I were confounding the problems of this difficult girl by rejecting her? Will she always feel that something must be wrong with her that you kept her sister but not her?

    If you are willing to take on this four year old, knowing full-well that you are getting into some serious issues that will be difficult to deal with for many, many years--then you trukly have a strong heart. I am not sure that I would be brave enough.

    Please let us know what you decide....

  11. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    Just my $0.02, but with the child's history a better placement may be with a couple that has no other children.

    The time and financial requirements to appropriately care for this little one will likely be huge.

    I'd also recommend that you do some research on potential negative impact on your children before making a final decision. One book on the subject is "The Normal One; Life with a Difficult or Damaged Sibling" by Safer.

    Whatever you decide, we'll support your decision.
  12. karif

    karif crazymomof4

    It is hard to know what the right thing is. YOu can only make that decision. We adopted our difficult child when he was 15 months old. He has so many issues that we are finding it hard to find the right help for him. We are getting on the right track. I will tell you this, I really love him. He has my heart. I know God placed him in our hands for a reason. You might adopt her and she gets worse or you might adopt her and make the diffance in her life that she has been waiting for. I am not sure what county you are adopting from but our county has alot of resources to help children that are in the system. Let me know if I can be of any help. Blessings:D
  13. Kathrine

    Kathrine New Member

    You also need to check with your state and find out what its laws are for adopted children who "go bad." My parents adopted a crack baby who they actually raised somewhat normally, considering his circumstances and special needs. However, when he hit puberty, his mind went all haywire. He developed epilepsy, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), bipolarism, and God knows what else. He actually became violent in my parents home (I was already grown and gone) and they feared for their safety--even their lives. They had to put a padlock on his door and he wasn't allowed in the house without my Dad home. They tried to give him up to state custody, but their state wouldn't allow it. The state said if my parents gave up their parental custody that they would be sued for child abandonment. So they were forced to live with this violently, criminally ill teenager at the risk of their safety and their lives.
    Find out what your state's laws are and know if you're in this permanently or if there is a way to get out of it, should you need to. I actually think children with these kinds of special needs are actually better off in a group home setting with professional, round the clock care.