Am I unduly worried by the potential impact on BC of adopted younger sibling?

(7 Posts)
resipsa Tue 27-May-14 15:15:18

Hi everyone. I am new to this board and the question is theoretical for now. We have one BC who is DD, 3. I always wanted 2 children but the body has not played ball for the last 2.5 years and after 3 m/cs, I think both the body and mind have had enough. DH and I are open to the idea of adoption but I worry very much about the potential negative impact on DD. I did not have any similar thought when trying to produce DC2 myself and so wonder if this aspect if taking on disproportionate 'importance' in my thought processes. Has anyone here any direct experience of the impact (+ve or -ve) on an 'only' BC of an adopted younger sibling?
Thanks.

wafflingworrier Tue 27-May-14 20:18:52

hello,

we are also considering adoption, we have two DDs who are our BC.
I would recommend this website as I've found this section to be the most helpful for people with existent BC. that said, I would take it with a pinch of salt as it tends to be more negative than average as it is more likely people seek this forum if they are needing help
www.adoptionuk.org/forums/adopters-birth-children

the minimum age gap between your youngest birth child and an adoptive child is two years old. most people from this forum recommend waiting until your BC is older, at least 4 years old, until thinking about adopting as this increases the chances of it being a success. they don't go into many details but I think it's basically that adoptive children need a lot of time and support so it is easier to do this without leaving out your BC if they are already at school.

hopefully someone with actual experience will come along shortly, either way good luck with your decision

FamiliesShareGerms Tue 27-May-14 21:54:29

DS was nearly 6 when we adopted DD (15 months at that point)

Overall it has been a very positive for everyone - DD is absolutely DS's little sister and they adore each other (2.5 years on they still share a room, for example).

I think you're right to be concerned, and to make sure st every step that adoption is right for your family. Our SW understood this and was happy for us to go through approval quite slowly, so that we were certain.

There are a few odds and ends that are more difficult than having a second birth child, particularly contact with DD's birth family (we exchange letters only) and the fact that she has half siblings whereas he is a one and only, biologically speaking. And we were very fussy about what we could and couldn't consider needs wise, thinking about the impact that these would have on DS.

Dies this help at all? Happy to answer any specific Qs, either here or on PM

64x32x24 Tue 27-May-14 22:10:55

We have BC soon to be 4 and have recently been approved to adopt, so this is something we have been thinking about too.

Regarding age difference, it is my purely intuitive feeling that the younger the children are (BC and AC), the shorter age difference can be ok. So if BC is 4, then AC age 2 or younger. But if AC is 4, then maybe BC should be around 7 or 8. And if AC is 7 or 8, then the age gap should be even larger, maybe 5-7 years.
BUT that is just my personal intuition, and your mileage may vary. People everywhere say that research shows that the greater the age gap, the more chance for a successful adoption and 'happy' family life, however I have tried to find this research and have yet failed to find anything (and I do have access to research publications).

Regarding age of BC at least 4/at school, that's also something we have come across, with a few LAs who rejected us and told us to come back later when DS is older. There is something to be said for large-ish age gaps between siblings in general, not just through adoption - it is very hard work having two under 3, or 3 under 5 or whatever. And at times one of your children's needs may get less attention than you would like. So if adoptive parenting is harder than 'typical' parenting, then add that hard to the general hard of lots of little ones, and it gets REALLY hard.
However I think there is also another side to this. Up to a certain point there will be a period of settling in (as there always is when a new sibling joins the family, be it by birth or by adoption), but then BC will grow up feeling like they always had a sibling, perhaps always had a sibling with additional needs. It will be their version of normal. However if you wait until your BC has had say 7 years of life as an only child, then adjusting to having the majority of time and attention 'stolen' by the new additional needs sibling can come as a major shock, and at that age, your BC might find it harder to just accept things as their 'normal' but may resent you/their sibling, and you may start feeling you didn't do right by your BC. So there is IMO also an argument for adopting whilst your BC are as young as possible. Sure, they won't be able to 'understand' things the way an older child may; so they may be less 'forgiving' and less prepared to accept that they now must (at least temporarily) take second place. But when is a child really old enough to have that kind of maturity?

I think when adopting you have to be ok with the possibility that your child will have at least some additional needs, maybe quite a few. This WILL affect any children already in the family. Their lives will be different than they might have been. (And yours!) But is that a bad thing per se? That in my opinion is a matter of how you live it, and your attitude to things, and how well you are prepared and how realistic you are (unrealistic expectations may lead to disappointment and resentment) and what support you have.

resipsa Wed 28-May-14 08:22:47

Thanks for your replies. We are still at the thinking stage but the more that I think about it, the more entrenched the idea of A N Other Child becomes and I start to imagine lazy weekends in the sun with the two of them playing happily...until the 'adopted' word comes to the forefront of my mind and then the picture becomes fuzzy. This is illogical as there is no guarantee that BC siblings will get along (and I have personal exprience of this with my sister). I guess the real concern is that 10 or more years down the line DD might say that our desire for DC2 ruined her life (but this is also unlikely) and I might regret it...

akuabadoll Wed 28-May-14 14:12:31

As you rightly say there are no guarantees with birth siblings (nor for that matter if both are adopted). I think there is a tendancy to think of adopted children as one thing and birth children another but of course children are more than their origins. I have an adopted child and a birth child (though less commonly I adopted first) and of course I wondered how this would be for my first but in this case I don't see anything specifically related to how they joined our family, time will tell - they are both very young. When I think of what the future might hold and what will get thrown at me when they are teenagers I think of them each having a bucket where they store all their concerns, moans, worries and complaints. I think that issues related to adoption/birth will be in there somewhere but there will be plenty other stuff to choose from too.

64x32x24 Wed 28-May-14 16:42:33

I think it helps to remind yourself that you want another child 'for yourself', not because your child would like a sibling, or you think a sibling would be good for your child. You want a child, not a sibling. Each of your children will then be the other's sibling, rather than one being your child, the other being your child's sibling. IYSWIM? It's obvious really, but what with the one child being there and real and a huge part of your life, and the other child as yet being nothing but an idea, it is easy and natural to put your existing child first. But if you stop there, then nobody would ever have a second child, as the second always reduces time and attention available for the first. So it helps to think somewhat selfishly 'I want that second child and my PFB will just have to suck it up'.

Yes, another BC could have all sorts of problems too, but I think it is important to recognise that with an AC, the risks are generally higher. And the younger you adopt, the larger the uncertainties.

It's ok to dream of your perfect family constellation, and to hope that you could achieve that dream by adopting. But I think it is important to recognise that things may turn out a little differently, and to think carefully if you as a family would still be ok with that.

That said, if your expectations are realistic, at the end of the day IMO it's all about MAKING happy family life, and that doesn't stop when the children have all arrived. You could have a perfectly happy family life with typically developing BC, and one struggling AC, if you make it so; just as you could have a perfectly happy family life with only your BC, or with two BC, or with your BC and a typically developing AC.

You ask if you are worrying too much about potential problems/the increased risk of problems that comes with AC. I think you need to look at yourself and your family to answer that. How do you deal with problems? With disappointments? Is your relationship strong and adaptable? Are you happy only with the perfect ideal of your dreams, or do you usually happily make the best of things even if they fall short of some ideal? Depending on the answers to these questions, it may be that yes, you are worrying too much, or no, you are not worrying too much, you are right to be worried because maybe adoption is indeed not for you (which is fine, but important to recognise before it's too late!)

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