Adopting after biological "only child" - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 10-22-2006, 04:24 PM - Thread Starter
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We've decided to go for adoption and have already ordered a homestudy and are on the verge of mailing off our I-600-A for int'l adoption. One big question (among many!) is: what age child should we aim for?

Our son is almost four and DH feels adamant about not adopting a child older than our son, saying it's not the natural birth order, etc. And several agencies we've spoken with echo that same sentiment. So a toddler/young preschooler would be great - younger than our son, closer to him in age than an infant, etc. But would it be harder for him to adjust to a "ready made" child entering our home? Someone who wants "his" toys, needs attention on a similar level, etc...? The other option is a newborn/infant. On the one hand, they take up more attention from the parents b/c they need constant care, but they can be worn in a sling, etc., and won't be competition right away - more of a natural integration into our family, more like it would be if we were able to another bio child?

I'd love any advice from those in a similar situation. How did it all work out with you and a bio child, especially an "only" child?

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#2 of 8 Old 10-22-2006, 04:35 PM
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We have an almost-10 year old, and recently adopted an almost-2 year old, so the age difference is bigger in our case than you will experience. Our Em was an "only" for a long time. Both of our girls are still learning how to adjust and deal with their feelings. There is some jealousy on both girls' part. Emily can talk through her feelings and understand both points of view, but Evie can't. We try to prevent conflicts before they happen (reminding Em to keep her things put up if she doesn't want Evie in them, etc.)

We are very happy with our decision to adopt. Em is usually happy to have a sister, and Evie loves her big sis. (we talk/sign about "Sister" all day long, especially when Sister is at school!)
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#3 of 8 Old 10-22-2006, 04:38 PM
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Hi, congrats on your decision.....I am actually doing the same thing....I have a bio daughter, one year younger than your son 11/03, and I just started working on my int adoption. I am by no means an expert, but I've wrestled with the same questions. Yes, it is recommended that you not adopt "out of birth order." But, of course, many people do successfully......I would think a much older child would be easier. Or, a much younger child. Anyway, my solution is that I will ask to adopt a young the 12-16 month range. My daughter loooooves babies, but I don't want to adopt a young infant, in part because I want them to be closer in age......But, like you, I worry about my daughter's adjustment if the child is "too" close in age, jealousy, etc......I have already been pointing out young toddlers to my daughter and emphasizing, "that's a WALKING BABY, that's what your BABY sister will be like when she comes home." I think my daughter would accept a "baby" better than a toddler/preschooler, even though the difference is small to me. So, I figure in the young toddler stage, the adopted child will still be "baby-like" for a few months, and my daughter may have an easier time accepting the new "baby."
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#4 of 8 Old 10-22-2006, 04:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, raven and monie, for the responses...

One of the other options is adopting an older girl -maybe in the 6-8 yr old range? I have two nieces, each by a different brother, one is 6 1/2 and the other is almost 8. My son adores them! When they leave, or we leave them, he cries! Earlier this year, my oldest brother and his family spent 12 days with us (on our sailboat, no less!) and when they left, I asked my son, "Did you have a good time with your cousins?" His response was, "Andrew is my brother and Abigail is my sister." He wants to be a brother soooo bad.......

Anyway, one of the reasons he likes them so much is that they love to read to him, play with him, etc. By adopting an older girl, I wouldn't want to put any expectations like that on them b/c they are entitled - as all older siblings are - to do their own thing.

Also, I worry that with an older child, there's a higher possibility of other issues - behavioral,emotional, etc. If we were childless, I'd adopt a whole slew of these kids and give them all the help and love I could to make their lives better. But we have a child and our family now to also think about - I don't want to put us in a situation that's so difficult for us a family that no one is happy. If we do decide to go the older child route, then I'm sure there are many sweet and wonderful kids out there - we'd just have to be sure we weren't biting off more than we can chew.
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#5 of 8 Old 10-22-2006, 04:55 PM
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There are pros and cons to all age combinations. In the end, you cannot engineer a "good" sib relationship by a particular spacing strategy or by your other parenting decisions. However, there are definitely parenting decisions you can make to mess with their heads and enhance sib rivalry -- you know, compare them incessantly, pit them against each other, etc. Not that anyone here would do that! :-)

Seriously, though. My one recommendation is that you read the following book about toddler adoption before adopting a toddler. I think it can be a fabulous decision, but always good to be educated *before* rather than *during.* The book is: Toddler Adoption, The Weaver's Craft by Mary Hopkins Best. Great book.

Having been through this scenario myself (our newborn daughter joined us when big bro was 2 days into being 4), I will say there is something to be said about having the little person not yet able to steal the toys when he/she arrives. That gave big bro some time to adjust to having to put things away and/or out of reach.

All in all, I'd say the combo worked out very well the first year especially. Those first three weeks were rough on the big bro, just because much of the minutae of his daily life had to change, and he's even less pro-change than most humans. He especially hated not having me available at his beck and call when he woke up in the mornings. But that passed as new habits/patterns became more familiar.

Good luck on your adventure!

[Edited to add: Lest I sound like we have any illusions of having engineered the "perfect" spacing or lording over a Peaceable Kingdom, I should spell out that the big bro definitely remembers having us all to himself and wishes it were still that way. His sister drives him crazy. But he loves his sister, thinks she's adorable, likes to steal kisses when she's sleeping, and enjoys showing her off to his friends. He's very protective. On the other hand . . . he often tells me he'd like to "throw her out the window." He would like to trade her for any number of his buddies' younger sibs. In other words . . . it's a mixed bag. Like any two sibs, they love each other but have radically different agendas most of the time and, well, it's *hard* to share space, toys, and parents!!!]
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#6 of 8 Old 10-22-2006, 05:52 PM
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Originally Posted by NaturalMom View Post
I'd love any advice from those in a similar situation. How did it all work out with you and a bio child, especially an "only" child?
We adopted a boy who was supposedly 21 months old when our bio (and only child) daughter was 33 months old. (It has turned out that our son was likely somewhere between 30 and 36 months old when he joined us.)

We thought that having an older child (and by that I mean not an infant) join us would be easier for our daughter because I wouldn't be spending so much time on a baby who would, from our daughter's perspective, take a lot of my time but not give her much. We thought our daughter would enjoy having a ready-made playmate. Also, dh and I did NOT want an infant.

The adjustment for our daughter was rough. We underestimated how much it would stress her to have a child "always there," always playing with her toys, always imitating her, always trying to get our attention. Our daughter was angry that she was not the center of attention anymore, and it's been hard for her to carve out time for herself without her brother intruding. We have since added another child to our family, an 11-year-old (now 12 years old) girl. Ramona remains miffed that she is no longer an only child and tells me at least weekly that she wishes that it was just me, Daddy, and her.


Ramona is a difficult child under the best of circumstances, and she tends to be a malcontent by nature. (She reminds me a lot of her momma in that respect. ) She and Efram spend vast amounts of time together, frequently sleep in the same bed, are each others' most adoring audience, and are best friends. They prefer to play with each other over any other playmates. Ramona's anger over being ousted as the star has been directed at us, not at Efram. Dh and I both agree that Ramona would be lost without her brother, whom we refer to as "monkey do" because whatever Ramona does, Efram does too. We are making an effort to give the kids opportunities to do different activities and we have established the idea that if one of them goes to the bedroom they share for some time alone, the other must stay out. I would not again adopt a child so close in age to Ramona, but I do not regret what I have done, and I think that each situation, be it bio sibs in their multiple combinations or adopted sibs in their multiple combinations, has its pros and cons and I think that whatever course we would have chosen would have presented challenges.

When people ask me whether I recommend intentionally having two kids so close in age, my answer depends on my current mood. Sometimes I am adamant that they shouldn't. Sometimes I am equally adamant that they should. I think that the biggest thing for me was that I was not expecting virtual twins, and that is what I got. I am finding that reading parenting advice for parents of twins is helpful to me. I also think that, had Efram actually been his stated age and developmental level, things would have been somewhat easier.

Ramona has had an easier time adjusting to Desta's arrival because, although Desta is older, there is such a huge gap in their ages (8 years) that it doesn't really bother Ramona that she is not the oldest anymore. In her mind (if not in actuality) she is still the oldest of the youngest two. However, as Desta's emotional age is more like 4-7 years old, it is very challenging for me to deal with the equivalent of virtual triplets!

So, how was that for a long yet entirely indecisive discourse?

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#7 of 8 Old 10-22-2006, 08:59 PM
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My son's not an only, but he's our only living child. He'll be 3 next month, and we'll be adopting an infant (so he/she'll come home at about 9-12 months old). I think that's a good age range...not too close in age but close enough to play with eachother...

~Brandon Michael (11/23/03), Jocelyn Lily Nữ (2/4/07, adopted 5/28/07 from Vietnam), Amelia Rylie (1/14/09), & Ryland Josef William (9/7/05-9/7/05 @ 41 wks). 
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#8 of 8 Old 10-22-2006, 09:56 PM
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