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Spacing between adopted children

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Does anyone have any insights into "ideal" age gaps between adopted children? Of course I know there is no true ideal age gap.   I have read some articles about issues that come up with adopting kids older than your children.  I am mainly concerned with attachment issues for children adopted too close together.  Any research? personal stories?


I am trying to plan ahead.  My current FS is 6 months with adoption likely by 18-20 mo.  I am already tired of the revolving door of social workers, etc.   I feel like I want to push for a second placement but not to the detriment of my current FS.

post #2 of 16

I wonder if your motivation to begin the process again, is just to get all the social service intervention out of the way sooner? Children from the foster care system are often traumatized and/or suffering the effects of drug abuse or neglect/abuse, so it can be really good to wait and see how things go with your foster child and what their needs are going to be as they grow before deciding to move forward again. I'm not sure there is any ideal spacing, except when everyone seems ready.

post #3 of 16

Plenty of foster parents keep their homes "full" so there are always new placements coming in or going out or they've had nonrelated kids for a period of time. So it kind of throws off any plans for age gaps, not bringing in older kids etc. 


After having six foster kids this summer (a sib group of three for a couple of months, a single 2 yr old i've had for a couple of months now, and two sisters ages 6 and 7 we've had for the past seven or eight weekends who are in the process of being adopted by another family)...ive come to the conclusion that it mostly depends on personality and how the children "fit" with each other. The sib group i had was 8g, 4g, 2b and it was SO HARD this summer. The oldest was so jealous of my 11 yr old daughter and they fought constantly, none of the children were very disciplined but i was cautious in how much i did because they were so involved with their parents that i didnt want to come off as too "mean" (for example oldest would say "i didnt eat dinner today *wahhh*" and i'd have to shout from the other side of the room into the phone "she was offered, she just refused!" ) The kids didnt have serious behavior issues but it was just a lot to manage. I knew that if it came to adoption i wasnt sure i could do it because i wasnt sure the my daughter and the 8 yr old would ever be able to coexist peacefully. 


But even though the kids i have now are similar ages (2, 6, 7) its *completely* different. Yes all the kids fight (mine are 11, 5, 5) but they have so much fun together. The girls dont have all that loyalty to birthparents and actually seem to soak up the attention i give them. They dont have the same food issues (mealtime was a CONSTANT struggle with the sib group this summer), if they dont like something no big deal they will eat the other stuff offered. Its funny because these two girls have a lot of behavior issues, can be aggressive and mouthy and rude and SUPER impulsive and hyper (the 6 yr old full on PUNCHED my son right in the face because she was mad....and had not yet taken her morning meds) but my kids LOVE these girls and are sad when they leave. 


I dont think its wrong for wanting to be done with foster care and social workers and all that. So i would focus more on what YOU think you can handle. Would you want to add another infant now or is that too much? how close in age do you want the kids to be? (common advice is to avoid artificial twinning but its been awesome for us, my boys are 2 weeks apart but i can see how with a "bad fit" it could be awful.) What ages are you thinking about? My daughter was 8 when she moved in and the boys were 2...it was kind of awful for awhile because she was older and i expected her to ACT older but she was so jealous of the attention they got. i couldnt go to the bathroom w/o her instigating all sorts of fights. But things have calmed down and now at 11 she's a HUGE help to me with the other kids and around the house and i cant imagine not having her. 


I know this isnt helpful ;) but basically i think it just depends on too many factors. Mostly you just need to figure out if you want to mother another child and when you might want to do that. Personally if you are doing regular foster care and the child could RU i might start earlier because it might be harder when your current child is older to have a sib and then lose them. 

post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 

Believe me, I would rather not have all the social services intervention.  However, I feel like it is so important for them to be cautious with foster families so I fully support the visits.  I drive hours in traffic to facilitate family visits because feel it is important for my FS to foster those relationships.  Also, FS has tons of dr. appointments, therapy, early intervention, etc.   I am certainly not one of those "parenting by convenience" people however, I am yearning for more autonomy in making decisions for FS.


I am asking about ideal spacing mainly because both my husband and I have siblings very close in age to us (both about 18 mo spacing) and we really cherished those relationships growing up (and now).  We'd always imagined our children to be at similar stages to one another.   Of course, attachment issues are one of the biggies for adopted children.  I am most concerned with attachment issues for kids adopted too closely. 


We could definitely keep our home "full", we are still getting weekly calls.  I was told to expect more calls as the holidays get close.   It hurts me to think about small children spending time over the holidays in facilities when they can't find homes, but that is what happens in my county.   It is hard for me to say no, I guess I was trolling for some support on why it might be bad for FS to give me more backbone for the no's.    


Queenjane - I am so glad to hear about the success of your current placement! 

post #5 of 16

Originally Posted by PoorUglyHappy View Post

  Of course, attachment issues are one of the biggies for adopted children.  I am most concerned with attachment issues for kids adopted too closely. 




I'm a little confused...i've never heard of kids being adopted too closely as a contributing factor to the development of attachment issues. Of my three adopted kids, only the oldest had attachment issues (adopted at 8, lived with birthmom until nearly 3, then foster care then back to bmom then foster care, multiple homes) and really her issues are more trauma than attachment i think. My boys placed at 3 weeks and at 16.5 months have no attachment issues at all. 

post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 

QueenJane - I don't think it applies to older children.  There is an increased risk for attachment issues when there is too small an age gap between infant siblings.   It was one of the things examined in the big Kauai study.   But, I don't know if it applies to adopted children as well.  

post #7 of 16
Originally Posted by PoorUglyHappy View Post

QueenJane - I don't think it applies to older children.  There is an increased risk for attachment issues when there is too small an age gap between infant siblings.   It was one of the things examined in the big Kauai study.   But, I don't know if it applies to adopted children as well.  

Really? Thats so strange to me.


So if infants are, say, 9-12 months apart in age (and many ARE) the study says that even if raised by loving attentive parents they are at greater risk for *attachment issues*?? I havent read the study obviously, but i think the increase must be so small as to not even worry about when planning one's family...seems to me there are so many other things that impact attachment. Of course its harder to meet a child's needs if you have another young child who is also very needy but for that to rise to the level of attachment issues seems a stretch to me. I really wouldnt let that particular issue determine whether you add another child at any given age. I'd look more at what YOU can handle. 

post #8 of 16
That sounds odd to me, too.
post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by queenjane View Post

Really? Thats so strange to me.


Originally Posted by Polliwog View Post

That sounds odd to me, too.

I agree!  I think that is why I was looking more for personal stories.  :)   I think I just read too many studies, LOL.    We all know how data can be manipulated to support one opinion or another.  Like I said before,  I think I was just looking for something to help me say no to the calls.  I certainly think I could handle it but I had 2 infants for a short time this past summer and I know the more demanding baby gets more attention.  FS is really easy going.   We also have an "attachment assessment" coming up soon and I was googling all about those as well.  How do they judge attachment?  FS is very independent and doesn't cry when I leave the room and will go to anyone to be held or comforted.   He doesn't seem to prefer me over DH or vice-versa.  I also read a few articles about how infants should are best to attach to a singular primary caregiver.  Not the case at our house, we share the childcare duties relatively equally.   My MIL also gave me a book on the psychological impact of the in utero environment and that had quite a bit to say about attachment and the bio mom's feeling toward the baby.


In addition - mind you, I am NOT on the vacancy list.  There is such a tremendous need here and the SWs who call say, I know you are not accepting placements, but it does show you are certified for up to  2....  My FS's caseworker told me recently that last year at this time they were getting around 11,000 hotline calls/mo and this past month they got 20,000. 

post #10 of 16
I am the poster mama for artificial twinning and adopting out of birth order. eyesroll.gif I will refrain from telling you joyously about my son who is our eldest, but only six months older than his younger brother, and does nothing but make straight As and excel in the arts and eat his vegetables and shower all of us with love. (Apparently, I will not refrain.)

Anyhow, in your (very different) situation, I would consider accepting a toddler or preschool-aged placement. If it's not forever, well, you've served that child. If it goes to adoption, well, you've gotten the social workers out of your life that much quicker.

I'd also consider taking a holiday placement, honestly. If I had it to do over again I would have skipped my holiday trips while we were fostering and open to placement, now that I know more about the crap that goes down at that season and the dire need for open homes.
post #11 of 16

My boys are two weeks apart and have been "twinned" since they were 16.5 months and 17 months. I wouldnt change it for the world. 

post #12 of 16

There are pros and cons to any arrangement. Closer together and they have more potential to be playmates and close friends. They might be able to share more things (rooms, clothes, birthday parties, etc) which might be nice. But there might also be more competition. And there might be fewer resources. But then, the parents get out of the diapers faster, potty training faster, etc.


Personally, I think 4-5 years between the kids is ideal FOR US. The way we see it is that it gives both children the chance for undivided parental attention during infancy and toddlerhood. The oldest goes off to preschool/kindergarten and so there's plenty of time and energy for the second child. When they're spaced closer together, the parental attention is more divided. 


HOWEVER, with adoption there's more variability. You have the option to adopt out of birth order. You can also "twin" a child when he/she is 5 or 10 or whatever, etc. "Bam! You have a new sister. And she's the same age as you!" How cool is that? Or sometimes things just happen, like when the birthmom gets pregnant again and she or the agency look to you to adopt/foster.


Plus with adoption there are other issues, as the OP mentioned. The process may go more smoothly or be easier to tolerate when the first child is a certain age than when he/she is another age. For us, we felt it was easiest to go through the process again when our first was school-age. It would give us more time to explore the options. And so that's where we are now. We're gearing up to adopt a second. But like the OP we're not interested in dealing with the state again. Our experience was so terribly negative that my husband simply refuses to do it again. This time we will adopt from a private organization. 


Queenjane is right about holiday placements. However, accepting a holiday foster placement is no guarantee that you'll be able to adopt that placement. And if dealing with the system is difficult for you, I wouldn't recommend inviting more of that stress in at a time of year that is already stressful.

post #13 of 16

 But like the OP we're not interested in dealing with the state again. Our experience was so terribly negative that my husband simply refuses to do it again.


guilty.gif We feel the same way, despite the tremendous need. Having state social workers in our lives felt like being in an abusive relationship. Never again. 

post #14 of 16

It was that bad when my mother was fostering as well. Apparently the state came in and did a complete overhaul of the fostercare system not long after she stopped dealing with it. Definite abuses of power going on- and that's towards the fosterparents, I can't imagine what it's like for the poor kids. :(





Originally Posted by PoorUglyHappy View Post

QueenJane - I don't think it applies to older children.  There is an increased risk for attachment issues when there is too small an age gap between infant siblings.   It was one of the things examined in the big Kauai study.   But, I don't know if it applies to adopted children as well.  

Because a few people said this was odd- later data showed that the Kauai study only really applied when the family lives in poverty, and those families are far less likely to have the resources to be able to handle two so close together. 


For low-income families, when the two are farther apart then it's easier because the older one can care for the younger one, which both boosts sibling bonding and also gives the parents a break, and the older one is more likely to be in or soon to be starting school so child care won't be as big of a concern. If they require welfare, then neither parent is allowed to stay at home and trying to afford child care, even with state help, can be very difficult. (where I live, the monthly cash assistance for a family of 3 doesn't cover much more than one month of day care after the state help, with 2 or more kids it's possible for all of the cash assistance to go towards daycare, rather than things like diapers and clothes)



Most people who are looking to adopt aren't low-income, and typically the adoption agency makes sure they'll be able to care for the children before the adoption goes through, so this really isn't the case with adoption.


The article I linked also mentioned this: "In a national survey of more than 1,700 teen-age boys, Jeannie Kidwell, a psychologist at the University of Tennessee, found that children had a more negative view of themselves and their parents when their closest siblings were around two years apart. However, if the space between siblings is under one year or over four years, the negativity disappeared." so "artificial twinning" wouldn't be a problem.

post #15 of 16

My adopted daughters are 15 months apart, placed with us almost exactly one year apart. They are doing wonderfully at 4 and 3. They are sisters and best friends and their relationship is amazing.

I really think it depends on personality.

We have a 10 year old birth son and an 11 year old foster son and it is just now kinda smoothing over. It was like a pecking order contest almost every day. I wouldn't take a placement older again. He was supposed to be placed in 4th grade which is why we agreed and DS is in 5th, but they placed him in 5th. It is mostly going well, though. They are 17 months apart.

post #16 of 16
My babies are 3 months apart & bonding beautifully. We are just starting our journey, she has only been here 3 months and we are just starting the adoption process. I will be keeping an eye on this group for info!
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