While Martin and Susan’s experiences differed they shared the fact that they had been abused and neglected within their birth families and that their needs had not been prioritised. When they moved into new families they presented their parents with significant behaviour problems. They had an extremely low frustration threshold and dealt with their frustration by displaying violence and aggression.
When Martin moved into his adoptive family his adoptive parents were told that he was a ‘delightful’ child who had settled well in foster care and did not seem to have been unduly impacted by his early experiences because he had been so young at the time. Susan’s foster carers were told that Susan had struggled in previous foster homes because there were other children in placement.
Both sets of parents were told that the children needed stability and security to help them heal from their past experiences. There was a presumption that with time, love and commitment Martin and Susan would settle and be happy and contented.
There was no suggestion that the children’s behavioural problems were likely to continue for many years or increase with time. There was no discussion about the level of aggression the families might experience at the hands of the children they had taken into their homes. There was certainly no discussion about the potential impact on parents of living with violence.