Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Siblings and adjustment and adoption etc.

When you adopt, there are certain things you're "not supposed" to do. Social workers have various guidelines when it comes to adoption, and many of them are very wise. One thing they suggest you don't do is something called "artificial twinning." Basically, the idea that you should not adopt a child within nine months of a biological child's age.

My sons are eight months younger than Anna.

So I guess that would technically be artificial tripletting. :)

To be honest, when I received a phone call from the director of our agency one December morning in 2005, telling me about twin boys in Ethiopia whose adoption was being disrupted by their (first) adoptive family, it didn't even occur to me that we would reject them on the basis of their age being too close to our daughter's. And then reading their story, knowing they were in great need of a new family, and of course being open to two children under three years old, compelled us to adopt them.

There are good reasons though why social workers are wary of artificial twinning. Sometimes it can really upset a first born to be dethroned, to have to share the first-born-ness with someone else, especially if they're the same gender. Then that can lead to further family issues, resentment, etc. Occasionally the adopted child will struggle with this arrangement, further crippling the attachment process. Not good.

So why did we take that risk when we brought our sons home? I guess we believed that Anna was easy-going and laid-back enough, personality-wise, to share her place in the family with two brothers. (The fact that they're different genders helps too, although had we adopted a girl, I still think it would have been fine.) And for a long time, there was a huge gap, developmentally, between Anna and Yosef and Biniam. As time passes though, that gap is closing. We've found that we generally parent based around a child's responsibility and maturity versus age anyway, in terms of privileges etc.

Even though we apparently did something we technically shouldn't have, it turned out really, really well. Our kids are literally best friends. They play together all day long. They are always so excited to be reunited with each other on Monday afternoons, when Anna's been away. It's actually turned out to be a very healthy family dynamic.

Right now we're processing through some decisions related to future adoptions. Trying to figure out what exactly we're capable of, equipped for, and then of course attempting to discern God's will for our family in this area. Because adoption is inherently messy. There are lots and lots (and LOTS) of unknowns. Sometimes things go well, sometimes things go badly, sometimes things go differently than expected. It's a long road. We feel strongly about adopting waiting children...children who may have medical/developmental needs, or who may be older...basically kids who need homes TODAY, who are difficult to place, as opposed to us going on a waiting list for a healthy young infant. (Those children need homes too however. But the demand far exceeds the supply, and so many precious little ones are just waiting and waiting.)

The children we currently have, that is our priority of course. What is good for them, and what is good for potential adopted children? What type of child might we be good for, and what child would be a good fit for us? There is much to consider, with long-lasting implications.

You might not believe it (considering the sheer volume of children that we have), but we're actually in a great place right now. Just cruising along pretty much. Our kids are settled in, have healthy, secure relationships with each other and with us, Mary's being born was a completely easy transition for the kids (literally no bumps at all)...basically things are good. From that standpoint, I think we're decent candidates to adopt again at some point in the next year or two.

Anyway, my amazingly wise, sweet friend Lisa (who I get to meet in April, yay!!!) has a great blog that you should read, if you haven't already. She wrote this post that is full of great insights from herself and from other adoptive parents. If you've adopted or are planning to again I'd love to read your thoughts as well!


r. said...
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Joanie said...

Your children's stories - oh, so good. All of them. Richness. Preciousness.

I eagerly await the additions God has in store for you all!

shell said...

you know we are just like you! 5 kids in 2.5 years? break birth order? and it is exactly what it should be, not without tough days and questioning. but my kids are also the BEST of friends. i can't wait to see what God has in store for YOU......and for us. :)

Sharla said...

We had two biological sons and then started th process of adoption through the foster-to-adopt program. We adopted a baby girl and then a baby boy who are two months apart (so definetly artificial twins very close in age) and then three years later, adopted our daughter's birth sister as well. Then seven months ago, we travelled to Ethiopia to bring home our two newly adopted children a boy and girl who it turns out are the same age as our other children who now we have artificial triplets and artificial twins and the sibling thing for us has gone really well. It has for the most part helped in the transition for the kids and I don't see much of a downside. Our original artificial twins (boy/girl) have always been the best of friends and it's been a really positive thing and since I homeschool, having them all clustered in the same age range works out better for some things.

As for when to adopt again, that's a question only you and God can answer. I know that we are not ready yet but perhaps you are. We did get two of our kids within six months of each other and that went really well and then of course this time, we added two at once, which may be why it is taking longer to adjust. I don't know that there is a set time that is "right". It's such a personal unique thing for each family. It's exciting that you're thinking about it again though.

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

I have Irish/artificial quads. :)

My first two are 12 months apart, so similar to yours. I think as long as your daughter is in a higher grade in school it is not a big deal. And if you did not have twins, and had the same gender, etc etc, it would be harder. I wouldn't want to usurp my firstborn. But the others - eh.

My word verification below is 'bless' - how cool is that?

Brooke W said...

I love your post! We 'twinned' our boys...our Ethiopian son, Anteneh, is only 7 months older than our bio son...and it's AWESOME! They are both in kindergarten-they love being so close in daughter is begging for a sister her age now...I think sometimes their ages being close can be an awesome blessing.


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