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If you could give one piece of advice...

post #1 of 69
Thread Starter 
If you could give one (or more) piece of advice to someone who is considering adoption, what would it be?

My husband and I are a mixed race couple with two children under two years old. We have always knows that we wanted to adopt. We are thinking that a state adoption of a child or sibling group under five would be the best match in a couple of years when our girls are a bit older. We want to be as informed as possible going into this process, so we are trying to do some pre-work before we are actually ready to welcome a child(ren) into our home.

And advice or words of wisdom from those who have gone through this, or are going through this right now would be most appreciated.

Thank you!
post #2 of 69
Hi! Welcome.

I think, for me, the biggest thing is to not allow yourself to have too many preconceived notions of how the journey's going to work out. That, and allow yourself to grow some thick skin.

Other moms are going to pipe in, I'm sure, so I'll let them take it from here.

(Love your girls' names!!!!!)
post #3 of 69
I'm too longwinded for just ONE piece of advice...

I think when i started this journey i was a bit naive, overly positive, so sure that the commonly given advice didnt apply to ME. Things like birth order, artificial twinning, etc...my tendancy was to say that i could make those things work.

I started with the goal of adopting an older child, and read a bunch of books about that...almost scared me off. I went from super positive to wondering if i was going to destroy my life and that of my bio son. I ended up finding a happy medium.

I would recommend choosing your agency carefully. Ask lots of questions (for me, a big issue was timelines...i thought because i wanted to adopt a school age boy of any race my wait would be minimal, a year later i still had no prospects for a match)...find out if, realistically, your agency places lots of the type of kids you want to adopt. My homestudy worker for my first agency didnt say anything about me being approved for ages 0-7 but the actual placement worker, six months down the road, acted like i was asking for a healthy newborn.

Someone once told me to figure out your top three "dealbreakers" (in terms of behavior issues, medical concerns, whatever) and then have a plan for how you WOULD deal with those issues. They dont always know the extent of a child's issues, and sometimes actively try to downplay the issues. My friend is adopting a "healthy non special needs" sib group, turns out one of the girls seems to have significant emotional issues and another girl seems to have significant undiagnosed developmental issues.

As was mentioned, try not to have too much of a preconceived notion of how this is going to go (whether in terms of the child you get, or the bonding, or bparent contact etc)...things may change. In fact they probably will. You won't be the same person at the end of your journey as when you started.

Read as much as you can, and join online or IRL support groups. There is nothing more valuable than the advice and support and "been there done that" experiences of other adoptive parents.
post #4 of 69
I haven't adopted yet, just started the process last May.

One piece of advice: get to know people who have adopted, people who have been adopted, birth parents and foster parents.

But don't believe everything anyone tells you. Everything you hear from other parents, case workers, birth families, etc. should be taken with a grain of salt. Listen and try to understand them, but don't take them literally.
post #5 of 69
If you are trying to adopt through the state foster system, it's good to remember that the state isn't really an adoption agency, meaning they're not in the business to find a baby for you. (Not saying that's your belief, read on) They're in the business of keeping families together if they can. I think that's a good thing to remember when the wait seems long.

People ask me all the time if I'd recommend adopting through foster care to others and ultimately, yes, of course I would, that's how my two youngest came to be in our family. But I think parents should try to know what they're in for, and for you the best would be talking to people in your own state that have done it already.
post #6 of 69
Don't be scared off by the writings or thoughts of adult adoptees, birth parents, or adoption reform advocates. Do NOT dismiss them as "angry" or "extreme." Some of it will feel deeply threatening, but don't dismiss their thoughts and experiences. As adoptive parents, we're really lucky to have the chance of learning from past generations of adoptees, or anyone from the triad. And as newbies, it's sometimes deeply troubling to read/hear/see this stuff, but it's something that needs to be incorporated into your adoption world-view eventually.

Take your time, read and read some more, and try your best to get different viewpoints from different people in the triad. Once you start to develop a broad understanding of adoption, none of it will seem as threatening as it once did.

Good luck to you!
post #7 of 69
Understand that your child may have views about adoption that don't mesh with yours, and that your child's experience of adoption will be different than yours. Don't feel responsible for "fixing" their feelings, but do make sure your child knows that you are open to hearing ALL their feelings, not just the shiny, happy ones.
post #8 of 69
I love Readymom's advice!

As far as advice from me, I think that being informed about your child's history is important, but it is also important not to dwell on it or harbor lots of anger if your child had a less-than-peaceful/healthy start. Focus on today and the future.

And if your family will look obviously "mismatched", be ready to deal with intrusive questions, but also positive attention. I have met great people I never might have met otherwise because our family stands out.
post #9 of 69
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leatherette View Post
And if your family will look obviously "mismatched", be ready to deal with intrusive questions, but also positive attention. I have met great people I never might have met otherwise because our family stands out.
I get that already. My older daughter looks hispanic and my younger daughter looks white!
post #10 of 69
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by queenjane View Post
Things like birth order, artificial twinning, etc...my tendancy was to say that i could make those things work.
what is artificial twinning, and what advice about birth order?
post #11 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by erhowse View Post
I get that already. My older daughter looks hispanic and my younger daughter looks white!
Do people think you put sunscreen on one child and not the other? That's what I get every summer. My daughter's birth mother is white and her birth father is Hispanic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by erhowse View Post
what is artificial twinning, and what advice about birth order?
Artificial twinning is raising two children who are the same age but are not natural twins. Usually when people adopt a child who is the same age as a birth child or adopt two unrelated children.

Common adoption wisdom is to not adopt children who are older than the youngest child in your home. The reasons vary from not wanting to affect birth order and to potentially protect the children already in your home (if the child has been exposed to things that aren't typical for their age or may have been harmful.)
post #12 of 69
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Polliwog View Post
Do people think you put sunscreen on one child and not the other? That's what I get every summer. My daughter's birth mother is white and her birth father is Hispanic.
I've determined that people's response to my children has nothing to do with reality. I've been asked if they are twins?! They are 18 months apart! I can see a bit of "color-blindness" but a year an a half age difference! I've also been asked if they are really sisters or if they have the same father. We're pretty happy about the fact that we have a range of shades as to what could reasonbly be produced by our family, but we're not afraid of going outsied of that either.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Polliwog View Post
Artificial twinning is raising two children who are the same age but are not natural twins. Usually when people adopt a child who is the same age as a birth child or adopt two unrelated children.

Common adoption wisdom is to not adopt children who are older than the youngest child in your home. The reasons vary from not wanting to affect birth order and to potentially protect the children already in your home (if the child has been exposed to things that aren't typical for their age or may have been harmful.)
It is hard to think about my oldest not being the oldest, so we are hoping to adopt younger than our natural children. Which is part of the reason that I say that I am starting the journey. My chilren are 22 and 4 months old.

We're trying to figure out the timing of everything. On the one hand, we're not ready for a child placement right now. But I don't want to wait too long because I know that it can be a long process.
post #13 of 69
You just reminded me that people used to say that about my kids too! They are now 8 and 9 but when they were very small I remember having my maybe 6 month old son in the stroller and my 23 month old daughter skipping alongside it and people asking if they were twins! Duh...
post #14 of 69
I always like to pop in on the topic of artificial twinning. I have artificial twins (5 months apart, one adopted one bio) and things have worked out incredibly well. Our son came to us at 7 weeks old, his sister was born 3 months later, and they have always been very close. Our son has some special needs and having his sister in class with him helps tremendously, he often uses her as a model for age appropriate behavior.
post #15 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by mariaz View Post
I always like to pop in on the topic of artificial twinning. I have artificial twins (5 months apart, one adopted one bio) and things have worked out incredibly well. Our son came to us at 7 weeks old, his sister was born 3 months later, and they have always been very close. Our son has some special needs and having his sister in class with him helps tremendously, he often uses her as a model for age appropriate behavior.
I think the issue is often with older kids, and its harder when the kids have already established personalities and a way of doing things, and that way may not mesh well with the other kid. If it turns out well, if they get along it can be GREAT...almost like a built in best friend. If they dont....well, its really awful. Sometimes its awful nearly every minute of the day.

When my adopted son was around 15.5 months old, i was placed with a little girl just shy of 1 yr old. She was very aggressive with my son, and as he had spent almost no time with other kids his age, he wasnt prepared at all for her....he was so upset ALL the time, about everything (about her touching "his" stuff---and in his opinion it was ALL his stuff, even her stuff!--, about having to share me with her, about her coming near him)...she would pull big chunks of hair out of his head, hit him, pinch, BITE...they couldnt really play together as they werent on the same developmental level (she seemed a step behind him and wasnt walking yet), he was too young to really get "sharing" and she wasnt interested in sharing anyway. Add in the fact this was the first time i had to juggle two small kids at once, and i also suspected some mild attachment issues with her....it was hard on all of us. I was somewhat relieved when the girl went to live with relatives and my son was OVERJOYED when she was gone. I think ALOT of the problems we had were due to their close age...had my son been older, yes he would have been annoyed but perhaps able to better understand the situation. Had she been an infant, while she certainly would demand alot of my time, she would not have been in his personal space all.the.time.

That being said, i also think personality is huge....a month after foster daughter left, i was placed with a foster (now soon to be adopted) son. He was 16.5 months old, and just two weeks younger than my son. When he came, he held back alot...was willing to just give in to my son, if my son wanted a toy, he'd give it over...he wasnt really physically aggressive at all (beyond the occasional normal toddler stuff), they could play together and got on really well. (Of course now that he's been here almost a year, he isnt such a giver, but my son knows him well enough to be able to deal with it and no longer thinks of me as only "HIS" mama!)...it was sooooo much better. They were closer in age, in fact foster son is ahead in some areas (like language development, athletic ability), and they really compliment each other well in terms of strenghts/weaknesses.

But...you dont know what you're going to get when a child is placed with you. I wonder sometimes what would have happened had i been able to adopt my foster daughter...i wouldnt have said "no", thats for sure, but there would have been MUCH more of a difficult adjustment...perhaps eventually they would learn to get along, or perhaps they never really would have meshed well and just learned to tolerate each other, who knows.

That being said, i love having "twins"...my oldest was an only child (and essentially still is considering how young the other kids are) and it was AWFUL for him...one of the things i regret most in life is not giving him a near-age sibling. His childhood was pretty lonely despite my best efforts. To see my two little boys running around, playing, always with each other is so great most of the time. I wish i was able to give them more one on one time but as a single mom that doesnt happen much.
post #16 of 69
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone; this has been really helpful. I only have one friends who is pursuing adoption, and because she is unable to have kids, and I have two, it's been a little tense.
For those of you who have biological children as well as adopted, is it an 'issue' when you talk with other adoptive parents?
post #17 of 69
Coming late to the party My advice would be to hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst regarding transition and attachment. Our second child, first adoption, was a really easy transition and bonding process. Our third child, second adoption...not so much. We are 2 years in, and there are still things we are dealing with off and on. I think the PP advice about the 3 things you can't handle mentioned above is excellent, as well. Ds3 came home with some unexpected medical issues (that in all fairness, were extremely rare and only because of my background were they even dx in the US and it took me a a few specialists to get ID'd).

As far as having bio and adopted kids, I don't think it has ever been in issue with other adoptive parents. If it has, it has never been mentioned I will say that I had a funny shortly after bringing ds2 home when running into a former teacher of ds1--she mentioned that she was glad that she had met ds2, because when/if he was in her class in a few years (small district), that she would have been looking for a blond and blue eyed little boy
post #18 of 69
Both of my kids are (well, will be) adopted but I have lots of friends who have both biological and adopted children. It's not an issue. In fact, just about every family that I know has a mixture of both. There's lots of different ways to build a family and unfortunately (and fortunately) lots of children who need permanent homes.
post #19 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by erhowse View Post
Thanks everyone; this has been really helpful. I only have one friends who is pursuing adoption, and because she is unable to have kids, and I have two, it's been a little tense.
For those of you who have biological children as well as adopted, is it an 'issue' when you talk with other adoptive parents?
Not at all, though now that we're going back to having a bio child after having adopted (and planning on this being our last child), I do get a tense feeling at times. I'm not sure if it's self-inflicted or not. I think, at least in my adoption circle, it's seen as much less ideal to have only one adopted/transracial child...and if we were going to have another, why not adopt again? I can't really disagree with them. For dd, that probably would have been ideal. For the rest of the family, no. I feel like this decision was very much a balancing act where dd lost out a little, and most adoptive families know it. And I know they know it. And they know I know they know it.

It's a little bit like, once you have adopted kids, you can be part of the adoption families club, but if you go BACK to having bio kids, that makes people uncomfortable. As if it's a comment on adoption vs. bio. I may be too sensitive on this, though.

On more mainstream adoption boards I have seen occasional tension between intfertile/fertile adoptive parents. Sometimes people who have come to adoption after infertility, and have been waitint to adopt a while, and are getting (understandably) raw in the process, will express feelings like "couples with no kids should get placements before couples who already have kids" or "couples who already have Korean kids should get placements before other families." There is a feeling out there, in some places, that if you can have "your own" kids, then you shouldn't be making the waiting lines longer for couples who can't conceive, who have to/want to adopt. As if it's insulting/frustrating that fertile couples would make the process any harder/longer for couples that have already faced infertility.
post #20 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by erhowse View Post
Thanks everyone; this has been really helpful. I only have one friends who is pursuing adoption, and because she is unable to have kids, and I have two, it's been a little tense.
For those of you who have biological children as well as adopted, is it an 'issue' when you talk with other adoptive parents?
I haven't yet had it come up explicitly, but, yes, I can say I have sensed tension with other potential adoptive parents. We have two children (a boy and a girl to boot!) and could technically have another bio-child.

I think this is much more of an issue here since there are so few private domestic adoptions (versus the US), there's definitely a sense that we're in competition. Sad, but probably natural.

I would just be aware of the potential and be sensitive to the fact that everyone has come to adoption differently - and sometimes it's been a very painful road.
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