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Thread: Adoption after suicide attempt

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  1. #1
    Son, you ain't kiddin'. hillcountryannie's Avatar
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    Adoption after suicide attempt

    I am currently working a novel about an 18 year-old boy who attempts to commit suicide and his neighbor/childhood love.

    The story is drawing me into another novel that follows them into marriage, say 8-10 years after his suicide attempt. It crossed my mind that my female MC might not be able to have children and that is incredibly painful for her.

    So, this question popped into my head. Would a couple like this be able to adopt a child, since the husband attempted suicide as a teenager??

    There would be a police report, and he was already 18. It would obviously be in his medical record, which I am assuming is considered when adopting a child.

    I did find this about home studies: If there's been a history of substance abuse, marital difficulties in the current relationship or other important matters, the agency may request a neutral consultation with a professional who would be asked to share their impressions of where the adoptive parent is "now" with this issue.

    But would a past suicide attempt be an automatic no?

    The idea intrigued me and I couldn't find much information. This would really ratchet up the tension in the story.

  2. #2
    Miss Conceived Liralen's Avatar
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    A privately arranged adoption would be their best bet.
    The creative writing process is a lot like emotional binge and purge cycles.

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  3. #3
    practical experience, FTW
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    Quote Originally Posted by Liralen View Post
    A privately arranged adoption would be their best bet.
    In the US, a homestudy is required in every adoption whether private, agency or through the state (foster care). I've heard a lot people say if you had to be perfect to adopt, nobody would ever be able to do it. The requirements to adopt through the state are sometimes even looser than through private agencies since those children (who have been taken from their parents due to abuse or neglect) are harder to place than newborns who have been voluntarily relinquished, as in the case in almost all agency or private adoptions.

    One other thing to note for the OP--these days in the US in a newborn adoption, the adoptive parents are usually chosen by the biological parents. This could be an interesting angle for your story.

  4. #4
    Son, you ain't kiddin'. hillcountryannie's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone.

    I figured as long as it has been treated and he's doing better then they could adopt. But I'm definitely going to let my MC stress over it though.

    I read somewhere that you really need to be honest in your home study, so they could be debating whether or not to bring it up. He did it with a gun, so it will be pretty obvious that something has happened to him. Would that be something a social worker would ask about?

    Storygirl, the dynamics of that relationship would be so interesting.

  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW
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    No a suicide attempt at age 18 would not preclude someone from adopting years later. Although a background check is required to adopt, attempted suicide is not something that would appear in a criminal background check so it would be up to the individual to disclose the information. If he did disclose the attempt, he would only need to show that he sought treatment for his depression and that he is now doing well. My husband and I adopted our son through a private agency (not through foster care) and we had to provide a note from our doctor saying that we did not have any mental or physical health reasons that would make us unable to parent. As long as the potential adoptive parent is managing a health issue in a satisfactory way they are usually given the green light to adopt, as long as everything else in the home study goes well.

  6. #6
    practical experience, FTW
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    If they want to adopt internationally, that could DEFINITELY be an issue, but it depends on which country. For example, China frequently changes their "requirements" for adoptive parents, and anything that even hints at mental illness could block them. However there are other countries who aren't generally concerned about a previous diagnosis of mental illness, as long as it is currently under control - I think Ethiopia and India are among those. Of course, you may still encounter individual adoption agencies, individual orphanages, or individual jurisdictions within those countries who are not so flexible.

    As far as domestic newborn adoptions - I have a friend who adopted a little girl that way. She and her husband had to design a sort of scrapbook about themselves. The adoption agency gives the biological mom a couple dozen of these scrapbooks, and the bio-mom narrows it down from there.

    Of course that is through an adoption agency. It is also possible that bio-mom could give the baby to someone she knows (like a relative, or even just "that cashier at the grocery store who always talks about wanting a baby"), which would probably just require a couple of lawyers to do all the paperwork.

    Plus every now and then you have bio-parents who find adoptive parents through something like Craigslist, which is much more shady. You could even have someone "sell" them a baby, and they bring home a baby without all the legal paperwork, or with forged papers. Maybe he's so worried about not getting approved, and he wants to give a baby to his wife so badly, that he is willing to overlook all the "legal" stuff.

  7. #7
    Miss Conceived Liralen's Avatar
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    Have you considered having them go through a surrogacy type adoption? One that's a privately drawn up contract between the parties through a private attorney?
    The creative writing process is a lot like emotional binge and purge cycles.

    Can you find the Pitbull?

    WIP ~ The Black Dog Dialogues: At the raw, dark fringes of exhaustion, there is The Black Dog

  8. #8
    practical experience, FTW
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    I know you didn't ask and I don't want to go too far off topic, but if you do decide to make adoption a part of your storyline I urge you to continue fact-checking! There is lots of misinformation about adoption out there that is based on assumptions, or just plain outdated laws. And then, beyond the legal realm of things there is the complex web of ethical issues--and each of these issues can be viewed from the eyes of the biological family, the adoptive family and the adopted child, who will eventually become an adult with views of his or her own. All of this is rich stuff for fiction, but before anyone can create a fiction about it, they have to know the reality. (okay, stepping off soapbox now...can you this is a subject I have thought a LOT about? My personal adoption story has enough material for about 5 or 6 novels!)

  9. #9
    Son, you ain't kiddin'. hillcountryannie's Avatar
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    All really great ideas....thanks.

    I want them to have difficulties adopting, to ratchet up that pain for them.

    I know a lot about adoption in the sense of after the adoption takes place. I'm an after-school nanny to three adopted children and mom is a counselor for adopted children. So we talk a lot about parenting adopted children. Just wasn't sure what sort of questions were asked in the home studies, that sort of thing.

    It's getting more and more difficult to adopt a child from overseas. The last time I checked someone like my guy couldn't adopt a child from China because he would have a facial disfigurement (but from what I remember they would allow it if the child had disfigurement or special needs).

  10. #10
    The cake is a lie. But still cake. shaldna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hillcountryannie View Post
    I am currently working a novel about an 18 year-old boy who attempts to commit suicide and his neighbor/childhood love.

    ....

    So, this question popped into my head. Would a couple like this be able to adopt a child, since the husband attempted suicide as a teenager??
    Two things - if the child is 18 then he's an adult - so adoption, I don't think so.


    Second - it depends - I know of someone was turned down as a prospective parent because she had been abused as a child - by someone who is now dead and no risk. They considered that she wasn't suitable because of her past.

    Here they DO look at mental health as a factor - I've been going through the system for several years now, and the level of invasiveness is incredible.

    You would need to check the laws for the state/country you set it in, and bear in mind that not all countries have private adoption - for example, the UK and Ireland don't - you CAN adopt a family member - such as a nephew or grandchild, but you CAN'T adopt your best friends child.
    TORCHWOOD - where the slash is canon

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  11. #11
    Son, you ain't kiddin'. hillcountryannie's Avatar
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    It's set in Texas, so there would be private adoptions.

    I'm not a 100% this is how the story is going to go. But I can see it being very painful the worry about not being approved and then if they aren't she might start resenting him. Maybe they go through private adoptions they could go through meeting several birth mothers and the adoption falls through, maybe at the meetings the a mother could be uncomfortable with his scars, etc. I think there's so much here.

    Thanks for the input. I guess it could really go either way.

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