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Sibling for BC

(22 Posts)
Bertiebassett Tue 11-Feb-14 16:58:17

Hi all,

I've been lurking on these threads for while, while I've been going through the application process. I'm due to go to panel at the end of March, but I'm still wondering about whether I should specify a gender for an AC...and I would love your advice dear MNetters!

My DS(6) is a BC. His dad and I are divorced so I'll be adopting as a single mother. DS spends almost half his time with his dad, who seems to be doing a good job of parenting him (funny how that only happened after we split up...but that's another thread! wink ).

Anyway - I've always said I have no preference for adopting a particular gender, but recently I've been wondering about what would be best for DS (who is a sensitive, thoughtful little soul).

Part of me thinks that DS would deal better with a little sister (less direct competition) but then I worry that DS might actually see a sister as threatening. She would share her gender with me...whereas DS wouldn't. I worry that DS would feel like he was in the minority....that he'd feel pushed out.

On the other hand I've been thinking that DS might feel more threatened by a little brother because he would have more direct competition. I also worry that maybe DS would identify so much with another boy that he might sometimes want his brother to go with him when he goes to his to his dads (which unfortunately is unlikely to happen).

Am I making any sense? Do I seem like an enormous worrier? Any thoughts? confused

Sadoldbag Tue 11-Feb-14 17:17:44

I was told that the opposite sex Is better less competition so we adopted a girl it's working well so far

As for going to his dad when he gose my question to you would be if you had another child who had a different father to your son what would you say if they wanted to go to your exs home.

You could really use the time to bond are my thoughts

Moomoomie Tue 11-Feb-14 17:37:57

I would talk through all of these concerns with your assessing social worker, they are there to help and advise you and remember they are on your side. I'm sure by now you have a good relationship with your SW.
Good luck.

BertieBottsJustGotMarried Tue 11-Feb-14 17:41:50

I don't know much about adoption so sorry if this is a totally ridiculous suggestion, but are there children in the adoption system who have contact with their birth families? Perhaps this would be worth considering to put a definite line under why your birth DS can see his father but the adopted child can't see DS' father - and also help any jealousy from the adopted child that your birth DS gets to go and see his father but they don't have a father they can go and see.

Bertiebassett Tue 11-Feb-14 17:48:26

Hi Sad thanks for your reply!

My SW is encouraging me to be open to both genders (but I think there are a lot more boys than girls waiting to be matched in my area so without being too cynical, that may be the reason!). But yes I appreciate that a lot of other people seem to be advised to go with the opposite gender...

I guess what I'm saying is that I wonder if DS might be more likely to think that his new sibling should spend some time with him and his dad...if it were a boy, than if that sibling was a girl....simply because they're all male and 'boys' tend to do stuff the same way that 'girls' tend to do stuff together...

Don't get me wrong, I'm trying to discourage too much emphasis on gender specific roles, but I'm aware that young children do focus on 'belonging' to particular gender stereotypes.

In an ideal situation, EXH and I would have parted amicably and I would have no problem with him caring for any other child of mine (and by caring I'm only talking about about brief visits or day trips...not overnight stays or anything). My SW has suggested this this might be something to aim towards in the future. However, for reasons that I won't go into here, this is not something I feel I would want to happen.

Italiangreyhound Tue 11-Feb-14 20:39:47

Hi Bertiebassett you sound like me a few months ago! We have a birth dd aged 9 and I was very set on a girl at the start. I am one of two girls and when we first considered adoption we thought of international adoption from China. I had it very fixed in my head it would be a girl. Over time I relaxed more and began to see boys as a real option. DD fluctuated between boy, girl, boy, girl, and DH was only used to a daughter so felt that might be more what we know.

Then a few things happened...

I seriously considered a baby boy, who we did not end up pursuing but it kind of made me think!

I watched a documentary called 'Find in Mum and Dad' about some little boys in the adoption system.

I heard about a lovely little boy and started to consider him.

I think I also began to realise more and more thought this process that it is not about finding a sibling for dd, even though the desire to have a sibling for an existing child is a huge factor for many parents, including, of course, all those who go on to have another birth child.

My only advice to you is to remain open and consider the individual children you hear about, to discuss your concerns with your social worker from the point of view of what will be best for your ds, and most of all to relax and remember you are adopting a child for your whole family, you and your ds not just for what will be easier or better for ds. He will most likely adjust to whomever joins your family, but you are totally right to be considering his needs.

All best wishes. I am sure it will be fine and you are totally right to be considering your DS's needs from every side.

Italiangreyhound Tue 11-Feb-14 20:44:37

PS I forgot to say that just like you I got the advice to go for opposite gender, in my case from social workers as well as (I think) one or two others. I too felt maybe social workers had own agenda as slightly more boys seem to be in the system (not sure what the figures are but I have heard there are more boys). I too considered what would fit with DD. A girl they would have things in common but it would be more competition and maybe jealousy etc. Anyway, I was twisting this way and that and felt very unsure but I think you have to just read profiles and get info (once approved) and relax. If a match feels wrong do not go for it, regardless of whether the child is a boy or girl.

I do feel for you as I was trying to do what was right for DD but I have now come to realise that the right child, of either gender, will be the right child and likewise the wrong child would be wrong even if the gender felt 'right'!

Hope I am making sense!

Italiangreyhound Tue 11-Feb-14 20:46:24

BertieBottsJustGotMarried my understanding (I am approved to adopt but not yet an adopter) is that most young children who are adopted, and OP will be adopting a younger child, if he ds is 6 then the adopted child will most likely be 4 or younger) will not have direct contact with their birth father or mother. Some may but in the profiles I have seen it is much more likely that there will only be letter box contact with birth family. There are children who have birth siblings they do not live with and they may have contact but it is not likely to be very often in most cases (that I have heard about, in my very limited experience). If children are adopted much later in life this may be different. I was not sure what you meant about the birth father of the adopted child? Anyway, just being nosy and putting my two peneth in! I am sure someone will come along and correct me if I have anything wrong!

BettyBotter Tue 11-Feb-14 22:27:46

Disclaimer: I am not an adopter but have some awareness of the issues through various work and home type things. smile

Just a question (without an answer) - from an adopted DC's view point, I wonder if it may be harder for a boy to see his elder brother having a father-son relationship that he doesn't have with a father-figure, than for a girl to see her brother have a father-son relationship when she's not got a father.

I'm trying, not very articulately, to ask if the disparity between two boys, one with a father and one without, would be more instantly noticeable by the boys themselves and possibly harder to deal with, than between a boy and a girl.

Meita Wed 12-Feb-14 00:32:18

I agree with IGH - it's the child who has to 'feel' right, for all of you, not their gender.
Each gender might come with its particular problems, and advantages, compared to the other. It is right to be aware of these possible/probable issues, so that you can find strategies to cope/deal with them. But IMO it wouldn't make sense to reject a child who feels right in every other way, due to their gender alone; nor would it make sense to take on a child just because of their gender, even if they just don't feel right.
In addition, most likely you won't get that much 'choice'. You can't look at a profile and say, 'I'd like this exact child but with the other gender please'!

Bertiebassett Wed 12-Feb-14 08:30:10

Hi all - thanks for your thoughts!

Italian you experience and insight is very helpful. I have until recently thought the same way as you, that I'm more interested in find the right child than choosing a specific gender. But I'm now having these worries that gender might be important in my case (and just to clarify, my SW has NOT suggested that I go for the opposite gender, so she seems to be unusual).

Betty you've (rather eloquently in my opinion) hit the nail on the head! I have obviously been worrying about how my DS might deal with having a younger sibling, but I also need to think about how an AC might feel about their older brother regularly going off to stay with his dad. So I agree with what you say: I wonder if it may be harder for a boy to see his elder brother having a father-son relationship that he doesn't have with a father-figure, than for a girl to see her brother have a father-son relationship when she's not got a father

So maybe I should look in the importance of having a father-figure for boys and girls? (I'm guessing that a father-figure is more important for boys but I might be wrong)

TeenAndTween Wed 12-Feb-14 10:16:34

I think you shouldn't specify, it keeps your options more open, and you can always say no to any link that doesn't feel right.

We ended up with the one gender combination I thought we wouldn't (2 girls, I had always imagined 2 boys or one of each), and we couldn't be happier.

Devora Wed 12-Feb-14 11:29:58

I honestly don't think gender is your issue here. I think you are - understandably - trying to use gender as a shortcut to trying to identify the unidentifiable and control the uncontrollable.

Your key issue here is how you blend in a family where there is a BC and an AC, the BC spends half their time in another family unit, and the BC has a father while the AC does not. That is a genuine and tricky issue. I also have a BC and an AC (both girls) and my birth child spends every other weekend with her dad. There are some issues with BC feeling displaced, and jealous that AC spends more time 1-2-1 with me, but the main issue is AC's identity issues and trying to work out why it is that her sister is living with her birth family AND has a dad while AC can never see her dad.

I don't have time to go into this right now, but happy to talk further about how we manage it, if that's helpful, or you can PM me if you prefer.

Thebluedog Wed 12-Feb-14 17:41:46

We initially said we didn't have a preference (we have a birth dd who's 6)

What was important was to ensure it was the best match into our family, for us as patents and a sibling to our bc.

Out SW first said we should go for the opposite sex, but as it turned out, out best match was a little girl.

BertieBottsJustGotMarried Wed 12-Feb-14 20:37:31

In mine I just meant "relations you don't live with" in general rather than specifically fathers. But I'm really just throwing out something that occurred to me, it sounds like everybody else has much more relevant advice and experience.

Italiangreyhound Wed 12-Feb-14 21:19:14

Bertiebassett I think a male figure could be useful to boys and girls, someone who is male, who is nice, normal and trustworthy etc. In many families this will be a biological dad, a father who has adopted their child, or a step father but it could also be an uncle, a granddad or a good male friend of mum's. I think children with no male in the family can grow up just fine. Having a male friend outside the family can be useful to boys and girls but if no such person exists in your wider circle it would feel wrong to force it or to make a friend just for that purpose!

If your ex and you are on good terms now, and he really wants things to go well for the new adopted sibling could you occasionally go out as a group of 4, for a picnic or whatever, or would this be too weird for you all? I am not sure if it would help but it may help both birth and adopted child to see the male figure in the wider family in a good and positive light in relation to the rest of the family, rather than someone who exists outside of it. Although this is totally dependant on your relationship with our ex.

Bertiebassett Thu 13-Feb-14 16:09:17

Italian unfortunately the 'pinic' scenario you've painted is unlikley to happen with EXH. I do have some close family members who would be good male role models though...

There are some issues with BC feeling displaced, and jealous that AC spends more time 1-2-1 with me, but the main issue is AC's identity issues and trying to work out why it is that her sister is living with her birth family AND has a dad while AC can never see her dad

...this is really interesting and has made me rethink...I guess that gender might not be so important when those issues are considered. I for one would love to know how you have handled this situation. I'm sure other would be keen to know too...if you are willing (and have time) to share on this thread? I want to be able to provide the best support I can to my BC and new any advice will be gratefully received smile

Devora Thu 13-Feb-14 21:44:19

Bertie, my kids are still small and I feel very much in the eye of this storm on this one, so I can't give advice based on successful management! But it is a bigger issue than I had anticipated. dd1 is 8 and dd2 is 4, and they have a fantastic relationship. I am in a lesbian partnership. dd1 is my birth child through DI, but her birth father is very much involved; dd1 spends every other weekend with him, and he usually visits on intervening weekends. dd2 joined us at 10 months old. There is no question of her having contact with her birth father.

dd1's dad is close to both girls - he and dd2 adore each other and he always makes a big fuss of her. But he is not her dad, and she doesn't spend every other weekend with him like dd1 does. The realisation of this has struck her just as she is beginning to explore what it means to be adopted, and this is being expressed in her getting very upset and questioning where her birth father is and why she can't see him; and in her asking if she was adopted because she has brown skin (dd1 and her dad are white). She calls him Dad and we have not discouraged this, though we do explain to her regularly that he is not actually her dad, but he loves her to bits and is very happy for her to call him that as he is sort-of-a-dad-though-not-really-her-dad.

dd1 does sometimes feel displaced, but she is quite mature and also loves her sister. But her time with me is very squeezed. dd2 is very clingy and it rarely works to give dd1 'special time' (and note that I am not a single parent, so should be easier for me). Right at the beginning, we asked a couple of good friends to be 'godparents plus' for dd2, thinking that if they could come over regularly to take dd2 out and spoil her, that might make up a little bit for the 'special times' being enjoyed by dd1 and her dad. But of course it didn't work out like that: the gps are lovely, but people are always busy and dd2 refuses to leave us even for a couple of hours. Plus, they're still not a dad.

So, we're still very much working this out as we go along. I did ask the social workers for advice but they didn't give any - to be fair, I don't suppose they'd had much experience with families like ours. And of course we don't know whether this will turn out to be a huge issue or a tiny one in the overall scheme of things. But right now it is an issue and I strongly suspect it would be an issue whatever the gender of the children.

A bit of a caveat needed: this all sounds a bit grim but we are actually a happy, loving family.

Italiangreyhound Fri 14-Feb-14 02:46:23

Bertiebassett thanks, I was not at all sure how the picnic scenario would play out and at all times you need to be important in the whole thing and also your EXH and his ability to 'absorb' new situation is the thing I don't know.

Other male role models are good. If you have them. If we were to adopt transracially we would seek out people of the child's ethnic group. So I see it as a similar thing, part of identity, just helpful to have. It's just my personal opinion.

I think for any boy to grow up with no role models of his gender, or girl to grow up with no role models of her gender is hard. And to be honest even role models of the opposite gender are useful too. But I don't think role models need to be people your kids stay with or go out/spend time with exclusively without you.

It's a personal opinion and I think single parents and single sex couples probably do need to 'grapple' with and find their own answer to these things and as Devora shared it isn't easy.

For example what if there are males or females in your life but they aren't necessarily good role models!

With people like Godparents who the child doesn't necessarily stay with it I feel they can be around for when the child is older and you just need to keep that relationship going over years. Our birth dd is 9 and has 5 God parents, two couples and one single. She has rarely spent any time alone with any of them except for 'baby' sitting situations.

She seems one woman once a week with others, one woman about twice a year for a weekend in our family setting and one couple once a year in our family setting for a few hours with all their kids. They are just extra adults and I feel when she is older, they will be people she can talk to, like aunties and uncles, if she wishes to and their kids are like cousins in a way, which is exactly what we wanted as she was an 'only' child at the time and is still (hoping to adopt soon).

Long ramble from me!

Thanks for sharing Devora.

Bertiebassett Tue 18-Feb-14 14:05:26

Hi Devora thanks so much for sharing your story. Your words have helped me think about the sort of challenges I might face. I too have been told by SW's that my situation is 'unusual' and they haven't been able to give me much advice as to the particular issues that may arise.

Italian I see what you mean about the role models. I guess a version of god parents (I'm not religious) might be a really good way of trying to provide some additional good male role models for my prospective AC (and my BC for that matter!)

Kewcumber Tue 18-Feb-14 15:18:03

Bertie - I'm a single parent to a boy (now aged 8) and if I may be a bit blunt... the whole male role model for boys (or even girls) is a load of hogwash. Though it has taken me some years to come to that viewpoint.

Trotting out a tame male occasionally (even regularly - as Devora's situation confirms) doesn't in anyway give the child a father figure if they don't actually have one. The only acceptable "father" figure in my eyes that could actually work is an involved grandfather.

I have tried everything else - brother, friends, sports coaches and the relationship just isn't in the same league - as soon as the shit hits the fan (in their life or yours or your childs) then the relationship with your child tends to take a back seat and I think that doesn't really tell a child anything about a good father/child relationship.

The reality is that single parenting (as I presume you have already discovered if your ExH isnt reliable) is actually double parenting. You have to be *both the nurturer and the risk taker, you have to teach them what it is to be a healthy adult male by treating all men (even casual interactions eg in shops or with strangers) with respect and not fall into lazy stereotyping even in jest. There's just no room for it in a solo parent set up because they don't see the give and take and "humorous" joshing offset by the other side.

I think its equally important for a girl as a boy to learn these things - boys will grow up into men in the absence of a father at home whatever you do, hundreds of thousands of them did during the war with no obvious ill effects you just have to be more conscious of your attitude and pay heed to the kind of child you have and make sure they access a more "manly" world (sport in my case) if that turns out to be their thing.

Sorry that a bit of a ramble!

Bertiebassett Thu 20-Feb-14 11:45:26

Kewcumber thanks for your post.

EXH is doing ok (now) with DS but I'm aware I'm facing this new challenge by myself. I guess I've been wondering about how good a 'double parent' I'll be for an AC. I'm really putting myself to the test here aren't I!

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