Adopting a child of unknown parentage. What should be considered?

My daughter is in the process of trying to adopt a child. This has been a very long and painful time for her.

She’s been offered a 2 1/2 month old girl. This little girl is the biological child of a developmentally challenged female. The father is one of three men, who are also developmentally disabled.

She has a meeting on Thursday and will be able to ask some questions. Is there anything she could ask that might help her make a better educated decision about whether she would be a good fit for this baby?

This little girl has been in 5 different foster homes in her short life. They said she is fussy and eats every two hours. No drug or alcohol problems that we are aware of though, so that’s good.

So, what should she consider? Her husband has made the point that they wouldn’t give up their own biological child if she was born with a disability, so…

What do you guys think?

Hm, tough one. So, does the child have disabilities like the parents do, or is that unknown at this point? What disabilities do the parents have, exactly? Is it a state/province adoption? If so, are they any support systems in place for this type of adoption? For instance, here, those who adopt through the public system qualify for the ‘supports for permanency’ program, which is basically money and resources to deal with a child with minor to major disabilities.

A lot of unknowns on our end at this point. I gather they can’t tell if the child has any mental disabilities because she is so young. Physically she is fine, but maybe colicky? I’m not sure why she has been shifted around so much. It’s a county adoption program. I know none of the specifics about the financial aspect of it though. That’s probably something my daughter should keep in mind.

“Fussy and eats every two hours” is a normal infant.

I think they should get a solid medical opinion on what challenges this child may face in it’s lifetime, and then rationally evaluate their ability to meet those challenges.

My wife and I adopted, and we had months to discuss what we could and could not accept in a potential child. Your daughter apparently does not have that luxury, so information is key.

Poor little thing. Five foster homes in two and a half months. No wonder she’s “fussy”.

Do they know what the nature of the bio-parents disability is? For instance, an intellectual disability caused by oxygen deprivation at birth isn’t a hereditary condition. Are they able to ask questions about the medical histories of the mother and the suspected fathers?

I know, I feel so bad for the baby.

My own daughter was super fussy and colicky, so that part doesn’t concern me too much. I agree that she sounds like a normal infant in that respect.

We don’t know the nature of the disability, but it’s possible the county will give her more information on that in the interview.

Your daughter is ready to adopt a baby. So is her husband.

They don’t care if she has a defect; why do you?

Blessings on your future house of joy.

While the exact parentage is unknown, half of it is known and there are probables for the other half. So it may be possible to get information on ancestry and parental medical history other than the aforementioned disabilities, which as Eliahna said may not be genetic at all; some of those which are genetic would already be evident now. For example, if the mother or one of the possible fathers has Downs and a heart condition, well, that’s such a common pairing that it’s almost no additional information; on the other hand, knowing whether any of the (known or possible) bio-families has a history of cancer would be interesting. Or even whether they wear glasses… as my grandmother spent seven years telling my mother “not the one with the glasses!” (yes, my brothers and I all turned out myopic like Daddy).

I hope everything goes well with the adoption.

(All uses of “you” are either generalized you or mean “your daughter and her husband”.)

What sort of health challenges has the baby had already?

What sort of care does she require? How expensive is it? Are there programs to help pay for it? How is that predicted to change as she gets older?

Does she need 24 hour medical (as opposed to feeding and diaper changing and regular baby stuff) care, or can her conditions mostly wait until morning? (If a person is on a ventilator, you can’t ignore the alarm at 2am, and it seems like they *always *alarm at 2am; if a person needs intermittent catheterization, you can usually get on a schedule so that you do the first cath in the morning and the last cath just before bed and you get the night off.) Not saying that more labor intensive children aren’t worth adopting, but it’s a good idea to get an idea of what you’re in for so you can decide what you can handle. No, a biological family doesn’t get this luxury, but adoptive families do. It’s a perk. They deserve a few perks for all the headaches they go through.

Is she receiving Speech, Physical and/or Occupational Therapy in Early Intervention or some similar program? (Don’t laugh; my daughter was in Speech and Physical Therapy even before her due date, when she was still in the incubator in the NICU!) How many visits a week and how long is each visit? Everyone has a different comfort level with home health visits, and if she’s seeing three therapists twice a week each, that’s a LOT of people traipsing through the house and a lot of schedule wrangling. But some people love all the visits and the help with the baby.

Can you get banked breastmilk for her? (They’re going to look at you weird when you ask this. Ask anyway.)

Do they think that you can realistically have another child (whether through loins or adoption) should you want that, or is this baby likely to consume so many resources that she’s best off an only child?

At what point during the process will they allow you to look at the medical file with a nurse or doctor who can explain stuff to you? I’m sure they don’t let every inquiring couple look because of privacy laws, but at some point, if they won’t let me see it, I’m going to wonder what they’re trying to hide…

What’s the return policy/process and when does it run out? Again, yes, I know biological parents don’t get that luxury, but if they did, a lot of them would use it. (And actually, yes, they do in many states; it’s called the Safe Haven legislation, and allows a person to give up an infant no questions asked if they leave the infant in a safe designated space.) There’s nothing wrong with choosing a baby that’s a good fit for your family. Better to admit you’re in over your head and return her than get into ugly abusive situations out of frustration and exhaustion and dashed hopes and dreams.

They’re probably going to get a lot of noncommital, “We just don’t know yet…” sort of answers, but for a newborn to go through so many households raises some red flags for me. Something beyond “she’s fussy and she eats every 2 hours” is going on already. That’s normal for newborns. So what’s not normal about this newborn, and can you handle it?

Medically test the kind.

Some STDs can cause mental health issues, & can sometimes be transmitted to the kid from the mother in the womb.

I’m thinking they should ask for “stuff they may want to be on the lookout for, for any of the parental disabilities which can be transmitted genetically but which wouldn’t be evident this young”. Other than what pediatricians already look for, I mean; and knowing the labels for any parents’ disabilities which are genetic would probably be useful for the pediatrician; if none of them is, then it’s my understanding that the child should just receive normal medical care.

The first thing I thought of is a relative who adopted a Korean orphan many years ago, from an orphanage, parents unknown. Apparently there was an attempt to contact the girl when she was in her twenties or so. The mother though the likely explanation was that it was a complete scam, or plan B they were sucking up to get a green card. It sounded like a particularly nasty version of the Nigerian scam…

Never did hear the final outcome, IIRC the girl did not try to return contact.

I guess that’s not an issue in the OP.

The thing is, I would serious check if the baby has the same problems - the parentage is not promising. They may think “any baby is better than none”, but from what I have seen in various in-depth news items, documentaries, etc - nothing exposes the strains of a marriage like taking care of a challenged child to adult. I hope hubby is truly willing to take on that challenge, and not just saying “yes dear” to keep his baby-obsessed wife happy without realizing what he may be in for.

Where did that come from? In the OP:

The wife seems to be the one with the (reasonable) reservations, not the husband.

I hope my kid never assumes mommies want babies and daddies just tolerate them.

There’s a big difference between getting rid of your own child, and turning down an adoption offer becasue the child has problems.

Call me cynical, but my general observation of many families is that the mother much more often than the father is doing the child care, wiping noses and taking the kid to potty, etc. If this hubby is different, well that’s fantastic.

It’s also been my observation that when it comes to “I want kids” the woman has been the one most wanting, more often than not… but yes I have seen examples both ways on both sides.

I mention it as a warning. If (if!!) the child has problems, they better understand what they are getting into - both of them.

So if it seems like I’m stereotyping:
The race is not always to the swiftest, nor the contest to the strongest, but that’s the way to bet… - O. Henry

Right, but the specific observation of this thread is that in this specific case the opposite it true.

All child bearing /raising is a roll of the dice. A healthy child today, may become seriously ill tomorrow. Tragic accidents aren’t even news, if it’s not one thing it’s another, it sometimes seems.

I would think every parent, who’s been through a heart stopping close call, of some sort, is well aware of this.

They can research and read till their eyes are red; conditions, possibilities, on endlessly it seems, given the parameters. I say wait, there will be time for that, should it come.

If they feel up to it, whatever may come, then I say, ‘Roll the dice!’.

Sorry - I don’t get that the husband is initiating or enthusiastic.
(a) he made the point on his own - meaning he’s somewhere between entusiastic and willing to go along.
(b) he said the point when interrogated. Could indicate “she wants this so badly, I’ll not dampen the possible only chance with a negative comment”.

The OP makes no real mention of the husband’s committment, other that “my daughter is…” not “my daughter and son in law are…” - which may or may not be significant.

So I’m just stating the obvious - caring for a special needs child can put a massive strain on a relationship. I hope they are getting a healthy child without problems. I hope if the child has special needs, they are both enthusiastic about it in the long run.

Thank you for the good wishes. I am not sure it’s really correct to say that they don’t care if the baby has a defect. They just want to make an informed decision about what sort of challenges they might face. Personally, I’m fine with whatever choice they make.

And I don’t think either of them are obsessed, but they are anxious to start a family. I beleive they will both be very active in the parenting. She actually works longer hours outside of the home, so he may take on more parental duties than her. At least that’s how it is with their puppy dogs. :slight_smile:

Thanks everyone for the advice. Whynot, thanks for taking the time to list all that out.

Good luck to them.

Also, one of the problem with damaged children - I knew a couple that adoped a child with FASD, inability to plan ahead, understand consequences. At 15 he took his sister’s car out for a joyride, smashed it into a tree pretty hard, drove it home and parked it in the garage with bits falling off and fluid leaking everywhere, apparently hoping nobody would notice or blame him…

Special needs children will require much patience.