Any opinions about adoption with biological children?

My husband and I have two biological children (1 yr and 4 yrs old) and would like to add to our family, but both because I have difficult pregnancies and because we recognize that there are children in the world who need homes, we are considering adoption. International adoption is most attractive to us because that seems to be where the greatest need is. As we weigh the pros and cons of this, I'd love peoples thoughts on a few questions:

- how hard is it to integrate natural born children with an adopted child (particularly when that child will likely be from a different racial background)?
- is there an ideal age gap/separation?
- understanding that older children and sibling groups have the hardest time finding adoptive families, I'd love any opinions on issues that might arise when adopting a child who is older than your natural born children?
- is it best to adopt a sibling group so that they can support each other in an adoption transition, or has anyone found it too much to handle along with your natural children?

Any and all opinions welcome. We are struggling with what to do.

(Oh....and....I work 4 days a week (we have a nanny and my husand works out of the home)....I'd value any brutal opinions on whether we are just out of our mind to think that we can have a larger and partially adoptive family with both parents working.)
I have done research on adoption and emotional and behavioral disorders. There's a lot of recent literature out there that you may want to look into. International adoptions are also becoming increasingly difficult and drawn out, so take that into consideration. If you're willing to consider an older child, I would look stateside rather than abroad, as the need here is also high. Remember, however, that older children may carry with them greater risk of emotional problems, and that the climate here now seems to not favor cross-racial adoptions (if that would apply in your case).

From a purely logistical and practical standpoint, it sounds like a lot to take on. You may want to do some soul searching regarding your desires for a larger family. I don't at all intend to discourage you, OP. I'd just suggest that there are many ways in which this decision will affect your existing family, and I would encourage you to do some research. Best of luck to you and your family!
OP, you sound quite thoughtful and caring. Being working parents in no way makes you less capable. Emotional capacity and stability matter way more than hours. Just like biological families. But since you asked for brutal opinons, here they come. Please bear in mind that this is meant constructively to help you think about options.

Bottom line. Adopt because you want more kids. Not out of a sense of charity.

Not surprisingly, the children in greatest need of homes are AIDS orphans, have disabillities, and are about the same age as your older child. And unfortunately in some poor countries, children are increasingly being seen as commodities. Fraudulent medical histories, babyselling/kidnapping, exploitation of birth mothers. It's the downside of Brangelina raising awareness of international adoption. Agencies have to weed through more and more parents seeking photogenic toddlers of perfectly healthy birthparents.

Race is one of the toughest things to deal with in the US. Living in a highly diverse area or having lots of multicultural friends and family can help. But nothing can prepare you for hearing someone call your child the N-word to your face while you're holding his hand in the supermarket. Think hard about this one and don't be naive. Love is not enough.

Older kids and sibling groups issues: mistrust of family's motives, hostility and testing of parents' love, turf battles and jealousy, feelings of challenged loyalty i.e. is "blood is thicker than water". And that's just the biological kids.

One thing you didn't mention is the emotional minefield of "open" versus "closed" adoptions. Apparently there is even less long term research on how this impacts families than transracial adoptions. It's kind of a big unknown.

Skepticism aside, you're showing signs of a responsible adoptive parent by not shying away from the scary stuff and being honest with yourself. But hey. You never know. Sometimes life has a funny way of choosing for you.

FWIW, I have personal and professional experience with all kinds of adoptions and STILL have no idea what works or doesn't. My (adoptive) dad likes to say, parenting is always a crapshoot. If there was a way to game the system, somebody would have figured it out already.

Wishing the best to your family in all its forms.
14:44 here. Just wanted to thank 16:52 for the extremely thoughtful post.
Thanks for posting this OP.

I have limited experience with adoption but I just wanted to pass along the experience of my cousin.
She has one biological son and when he was around 9yo adopted a 10 year old girl form Russia. In short the two children didn't get along. As I was told, he wanted to be the "big brother"' and show her the ropes in the US and she, being older, was very annoyed by this. In the end, the girl wanted to go back to Russia and live with her ailing Grandmother. It was a difficult experience for everyone involved.

I think it would be hard enough to adopt an older child, given the emotional baggage they no doubt carry with them, however I think it would be VERY difficult to adopt a child older then your biological children. It just disrupts the sibling dynamics IMO.
I too have considered international adoption as I want more children and am very open to the idea of my family being multi-racial. However if my husband and I do decide to add to our family by way of adoption(whether it be international or not) I know we'll adopt a child younger than our biological child/ren. I think it would be easier for my child to welcome a "little" sibling, and they could be excited about helping take care of them, even if the newest family member was a toddler or older.
And I too would like to thank 16:52 for such a great, informative post. Those of us considering adoption really do have so much to consider. I wonder if you, 16:52, might know of some books out there that you rec regarding the issues?
Adopt a child if you are intersted in parenting more children - and for no other reason. Adoption isn't a cause or a charity event.

There are more arguments and research that suggest not adopting out of birth order is best.

Some families will tell you the addition of an adopted older child was seamless. The majority will tell you it is a major transition for all family members.

"natural born children" is a phrase that does not make sense. All children are "natural born" because the opposite would be "unnaturally not born". Biological is a better choice of words as it makes sense.
OP here - I really appreciate everyone's honest replies. I really did want completely honest opinions. In the spirit of further frankness...let me ask more on a touchy issue. One poster said to adopt because you want more children, not for charity (or something like that). While I understand the reason for that, I also know (I work in a social services field) that adoptive parents are "needed" (particularly for older kids). I would think that to adopt a child because you think it is helpful, might be a valuable motivation, particulalry if and when things become difficult. In other words, I worry that if the primary motivation for adopting is rooted in MY needs (i.e., to have more children), then I would likely be more quickly disappointed (because my needs weren't being met) when things become difficult. Is being partly motivated by the desire to help a child in need a bad thing?

Again, I really do want honest opinions because I want to assess my own motivations in making this decision. If my motives are misplaced, I don't want to adopt (I don't want my problem to become a problem for the child). My motives right now are to have a bigger family, but also to be helpful to a child in need. (We are capable of having more biological children, but the reason to adopt rather than have more biological children would be rooted in a sense of charity.)

Sorry for rambling....I hope that makes sense. We do want a larger family and, if adoption seems like the wrong thing to do (because of our motivations or any other reason), than we would likely just get preganant again.
Anonymous wrote: International adoption is most attractive to us because that seems to be where the greatest need is.

There are kids here who need homes -- call the foster care office of your county. They can place children with you who are available for adoption or likely to become available for adoption.
PP here -- I also think that once you adopt, your issues and motivations won't be important anymore. You won't think of "my adopted son" or "my adopted daughter" etc. they will simply be your son or daughter. So if you want to feel good about doing something for charity or get some kind of buzz from that, that feeling won't last long -- but the positive affect you'll have on another person's life will. It's sort of like the real life good thing you want to do will get in through the back door . I am a foster parent of a child I hope to adopt, who feels like part of our family already. It shocked me how quickly that happened, and made me feel happy to know for a fact that we are all part of the family of man after all.
OP, I just want to say Thank God that the world has people like you in it....
PP-are you doing a "fost=adopt" situation? what county are you in? do you mind me asking if your foster child is an infant or toddler? Does the county pay for the adoption or do you? Are you able to specify the age of the child when you become a foster parent hoping to adopt? We have lots of questions and will likely pursue a domestic adoption. DH and I have 2 young biological children and would like to adopt an infant in the next few years. Would love to hear about your experience as a foster parent.
Anonymous wrote:PP-are you doing a "fost=adopt" situation? what county are you in? do you mind me asking if your foster child is an infant or toddler? Does the county pay for the adoption or do you? Are you able to specify the age of the child when you become a foster parent hoping to adopt? We have lots of questions and will likely pursue a domestic adoption. DH and I have 2 young biological children and would like to adopt an infant in the next few years. Would love to hear about your experience as a foster parent.

You can specify ages. But they are not an adoption agency, so if you want an infant you may have to wait a while or not get one placed with you at all. I was open to older children who would "fit" with my biological child as a sibling, but my foster child was an infant when he was placed with us, just luck of the draw. And as things turned out, that was a wonderful experience for my DC. I know several other foster parents who also had infants placed with them whom they ended up adopting. The hard part is that you don't know for sure if the child really will become available to adopt -- the county exhausts all efforts to reunite them with their family first -- so you have to be willing to give without knowing you'll get a return other than karma. The adoption process can take up to a year and a half. I had mixed motivations -- i wanted to give but also wanted more children -- so it's a bit precarious, but I feel I am being forced to be a better person than I signed on to be.

Getting licensed is a long process. There is a training of several weeks and they interview all of your references in person, inspect your house, etc. Call the foster care office in your county and get details.
I'd suggest against adopting a child older than your own children.

International adoption can take several years though, so if you started now your youngest may easily be 3-4 before you got to go pick up your new child.
I am the adoptinve mom of three children and have no biological children. I brought my third child home three days ago. So, I can't speak as to what it is like to add to a biological family through adoption, but I do have some thoughts and experience on some of your questions.

If I had a nickel for everyone who tells me that my kids are lucky to have me, I could probably buy at least one cup of starbucks each day for a year. It doesn't feel good to hear this. Deciding to adopt is not really something that is truly altrustic. It is borne of having a personal need/desire for children coupled with a thoughtful decision of how you will form the family you envision having. Everyone I know, me included, has reasons for choosing adoption over having biological children - recognizing that sometimes biology is not an option due to infertility or not a reasonable option given medical concerns of the prospective parents and sometimes people don't feel compelled to raising a family that is created through procreation so adoption makes more sense. But, regardless of your reasons for choosing adoption, once you hold your child in her arms, you realize that it is not about charity, but about this incredible realtionship that occurs when parent and child are united, which makes you at least as lucky as your child and probably moreso. To be more direct, I don't think there is anything wrong with realizing that you want more kids and that the thing that makes most sense for your family is to adopt, regardless of your motivation, so long as you don't view it as a good work.

There are many people who will suggest that you avoid adopting out of birth order. I'm not sure what the research says, but here are my thoughts. If you are forming your family through biology, birth order matters. In fact, it is your only option.

If you are forming your family through adoption - whether solely or partially - it is not the normal way of forming a family. So, I'm not sure that there is any good reason for following the general rules of birth order. But, if you can tell that birth order matters, then it is a good idea to follow it. I adopted my second child out of birth order and it worked well. My first would have been a good older or younger brother. But, my third is younger than the first two because I thought that my kids both needed to be older than the new one. That being said, if I were inclined to adopt a teenager, which would have been older than my kids, I think that would have worked too. The problem in my family would have been to add a child that was of an age between my two.

As to the issue of the difficulty of transitioning an older child versus a younger one, personally, I thought both were a lot of work. I honestly would never suggest that the younger one was any easier than the older one - or that numbers two and three were any easier than number one. It is a good idea to educate yourself as to the issues you will face and to develop a good support system.

As to people who will say that there are kids in America who need homes, I would say the following. Why are they more deserving if a chance than any other child around the world. All kids should be given a chance to have a family no matter where they are born. If you have the stomach for international adoption, than you should follow your heart.

Finally, for those who suggested that International Adoption takes a long time, they are right. A quick adoption happens in a year and a half and many families wait three to five years. You can always find stories of people who adopt in a shorter period of time, but that is the excepton, not the rule.

Good luck! International adoption is an amazing experience.

I just wanted to add one other thing to think about....Adoption of healthy nfants, both domestically and internationally, is getting more and more difficult. Demand is growing faster than adoption agencies can meet. There are many, many people who have struggled for a lot of years trying to conceive or who have medical issues that prevent them from carrying their own children. For these people, adoption is their only possibility to have a family. Some adoption agencies are beginning to give priority to families who have 0 or 1 children, and I know I'm going to get flamed for saying this, but I believe this is a good policy. A lot of women who cannot have children would give anything to be in your place with 2 children already. Please consider them also when you are making your decision.
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