“When we adopted our daughter, 18 years ago, we thought it would be the most wonderful thing in the world. We knew she’d been through difficult times – she was eight when she came to us – but I know we didn’t appreciate just what we were letting ourselves in for. We now believe she had been abused in some way, although we weren’t told that at the time.
“Don’t get me wrong, we loved her and were delighted to have her in our lives, but she was, to say the least, a challenge. We spent a lot of time looking for help and, for a time, things did improve – she came to trust us more and I really thought we’d turned a corner. That didn’t last long though, as she met a young man and I think he turned her against us.
“She ran away to live with him, and as by this time she was 18, we couldn’t stop her. Inevitably she became pregnant but, because they were using drugs, the baby was put into foster care. I tried to get social services to let us look after the baby, but they wouldn’t.
“She thought we were responsible for what happened – we weren’t – but it turned her against us completely and, much as we love her, we don’t see her anymore. She’s 26 now and all I want is to build a better relationship with her and hopefully see my grandchild again, but I don’t know where to start.”
“What a very sad story – I’m so sorry to hear that in spite of all you’ve tried to do, you’ve never had sufficient support to be able to overcome the difficult beginnings your daughter had. Parenting a child is hard enough, but parenting one who has been so traumatised takes enormous patience and commitment. You have done your best under very difficult and trying circumstances, and it’s a great shame that you didn’t get more support when you needed it.
“Hopefully, you can accept that whilst the current situation isn’t at all satisfactory, there is nothing more you could have done to improve things. You have managed to get your daughter to trust you once and, in time, I hope she will feel she can trust you again.
“Whilst you have had contact with social services, you don’t mention contact with other adoptive parents. If you haven’t been up to now, I think you might find it helpful. I would strongly encourage you to contact the charity We Are Family (wearefamilyadoption.org.uk) that supports people just like you.
“A great many children who are put forward for adoption have experienced abuse or neglect or have their own unique set of challenges. The charity was set up by adoptive parents who felt they needed to connect with others who had experienced the same challenges and isolation that adopting may entail. To see your grandchild, I would suggest you contact the social services in the area where your daughter lives and find out what access arrangements can be put in place.
“Re-building a relationship with your daughter though might be harder. It might mean very small steps for now, but if you keep doing them regularly, your daughter may begin to trust and respond positively to them. It might be something as simple as a regular text message or it might be a weekly food parcel – whatever it is, let it be something you are comfortable with and feel able to do regularly.
“Remember, now she is an adult, she would probably have left home anyway, so you are unlikely to build a relationship where she moves back into your home. Many parents only see their adult birth children a few times a year, so don’t feel you have failed if that’s what you achieve with your daughter.
“Currently, she is probably traumatised at being parted from her baby too and will need time to process this. By making sure she knows you are there for her, she will, hopefully, in time come to recognise you only want to help her.”
If you have a problem you need help with, email Fiona by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org for advice.