Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Adopting two at once
Adopting two children at once was the best thing we ever did. It has been harder in some ways - on both sides - but there are so many more blessings as well.
The shock and fear of the transition was greatly reduced for our daughters. I was replying to a friend this morning, telling her that I missed that "depth of communication" with my new children, and I realized that they still have that with each other. Can you imagine having no one to pour your heart out to? It must be a lonely first few months for an older child. Older children have more complex worries - school, communication, future concerns, friendships, and without having someone to listen, it must be very hard.
Our daughters also help each other with perplexing situations. They laugh together over miscommunications - and help the other when one solves the charade more quickly. They understand the language issues better as they come up double time vs. one at a time. They feel successful when they alternately guess right and help their sister. They bring different gifts and struggles and recognize they are not alone in this. They see another child struggle with language and realize it's not hopeless - just a process.
They are able to see how unpleasant behavior in their new sibling causes discomfort for all. Watching another child tantrum makes it less attractive as a personal behavioral choice. They learn from each others' good and poor choices. There is less training and teaching involved as they learn from watching.
Most of all, they realize that they are not alone in their beginnings. They understand that there are other children, hidden treasures like they were, in other places. They are not abandoned, but human beings with great worth and purpose- special enough to have God personally reach across the oceans and move minds and hearts in far away places.
The downsides are jealousy, sharing of attention, and not having the spotlighted, single entry into the family. But these are also issues that come up with singles - and then the problem is usually the newly adopted child versus "home kiddos." There's much less insecurity with two new kiddos about less toys, clothes, etc., when you realize your new sister is in the same boat. They realize it's late arrival- not favoring - that causes the unequal material possessions. Having had toddler twins many years ago, we recognized the importance of exactly equal gifts for the most part, and duplicate birthday cakes this year, lol. While this won't always be the case, we know that better communication and family skill maturity in the future will allow us to develop the security and confidence they'll need to be more separated as individuals. For now, we need to keep things as equally perceived as possible.
Prayer has been the biggest help in this adoption. We have asked for it continuously, fellow believers have prayed for us faithfully, and the Church as a whole set aside time to pray for our new daughters in the service the other day. We tried to rationalize it away, but our daughter has been at peace - and so happy since that service, not a term we would have used to characterize her in the past month.
I also ignored the impassioned (and sometimes nasty) admonitions from others who warned against traveling alone with my 11 year old dd. She was more help than 10 adults, and like my new daughters together here in America, gave me someone to talk to and laugh with in English. We had a WONDERFUL adventure - the best time we've ever had! I can't imagine how different my trip would have been if I'd listened to anonymous internet experts who didn't know my daughter or how capable and wonderful she is.
Also, many families posted "must sees" and "must do's." We are all different - keep that in mind. 2,000 years of history in a medieval town wasn't worth my daughters puking for 3 hours in a car. We chose the not so exciting for me - but really exciting for my girls - aquarium that was 5 min. away, followed by McDonalds and a pic next to the Ronald McDonald statue. (They still delight in that picture and meal.) I canceled every temple and other visit for the rest of the week and spent time at Walmart in the toy and puzzle aisle for MUCH less money. My girls had normal days of TV watching, puzzles and playdough, dancing and coloring. The trip is about them - not us - take your cues from them and change it up if need be. There is wonderful information available from veteran travelers - BUT - you know yourself and your family best. Make your own decisions.
I read many, many, posts warning against adopting two at once, and wanted to pass along our experience to others who may be on this path. Ask for help! Pay for it, use available resources, be a prayer hog. It is physically and emotionally draining to meet the daily emotional needs of two children with such big changes in their lives - but it gets easier every day. Putting them in school, even as a homeschooling family, was a huge help to both their and our transition to a new family dynamic. We are given time to refresh each day while others come alongside and help with the many needs - both in academics and communication (ESOL).
The medical professionals at our International Adoption Clinic have been wonderful and covered many more bases than in the past. They now do complete checks - vision, hearing, OT, and every other thing that may have been missed in foster and institutional care.
We are thankful for the many people who have supported the homecoming of our daughters both in prayer and deed. While it may not be this easy in every adoption our experience with two has brought more blessings than challenges to both us and our new children. I have had bad days - mostly of my own making - and the next day I start over since "God's mercies are new (to me) every morning." Because I accept this for myself, I extend the same to my new daughters whatever the previous day may have held. I can't imagine the frustration they must feel on a daily basis from the overwhelming changes in their lives.
If God is calling you to this path, do not listen to the naysayers, but listen to Him who will provide all you need each day. While it may not be this easy, depending on the experiences and challenges of your children, God will equip you and those around you to meet their needs in time and comfort you when you struggle. Blessings, Kim