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Thinking of adopting our second child (have one biological child), any experience to share?

(22 Posts)
puddinganarchy Fri 21-Mar-14 13:55:41

We would like a second child (already have biological ds aged one) but realistically I am unlikely to conceive again. We are in the initial stages of considering adopting a sibling. If anyone has any experience or advice to share I would be very grateful. I am wondering what sort of questions or concerns social workers may have and what people's experiences of are integrating an adopted child into their family, and experiences of bonding with the adopted child (both the existing children and the parents). Thanks!

Meita Fri 21-Mar-14 15:36:35

Hi pudding,
We have birth DS who is three and a half, and are in the process of adopting DC2. We first started thinking about adoption in earnest, and reading up on things etc., when DS was 9 months.

One important thing to consider is that normally the agencies will want at least a two year age gap between the youngest child already in a family, and a new adoptive child. When we first got in touch with agencies, DS was not quite 3, and several agencies dismissed us straight out of hand for that sole reason. Because, his age would limit us, to adopting a very young baby, and many agencies have no 'need' for adopters who can only adopt babies. They are looking to place toddlers, preschoolers and older children, so will only assess people who are able and willing to consider these age groups.
This might be different if your family would classify as BME, or if you would be willing to adopt a baby with significant special needs and signal this from the outset.

However we did then find several agencies who were happy to assess us, who said that recently they had a lot more younger children and babies who they needed to place, so DS' age was no obstacle.
So, realistically you probably need to wait another year at least, or two, before starting the process. (Some agencies asked us to wait until DS was 5.)
That said, I do know one family who started the process (under old rules however) just after the birth of their DC2, and finished assessment just after their DC2 turned two (the reason the process took so long was because they had to wait for him to turn two before being allowed to complete it). Nowadays, the assessment process is not meant to last longer than 6 months, so this probably wouldn't work for you. This family is now waiting for a match, and they may wait for a long time, as only babies aged 0-6 months will be considered for them, and in standard adoption, this is exceedingly rare.

I felt quite down when I realised how long we would have to wait to even start the process. Friends around us kept announcing pregnancies and many now have DC2 who are one or older, their DC1 being the same age as ours... and we are still only making what sometimes seems like tiny steps in the right direction. However, there are also some good sides to having DS grow up as an 'only' for his formative first few years, and only bringing DC2 home once our PFB is settled at school and needing much less full time attention.
Meanwhile, I'd say find out as much about adoption as you can. These boards are a good starting place, and there is lots on the web in general. Wanting a(nother) child is the main starting place for thinking about adoption, but adoption entails more and is different than having a(nother) birth child.
I would say first try to determine if you could PARENT an adopted child, with all the difficulties this may bring, and only secondly worry about the ASSESSMENT.
But if you want to get ready for a smooth assessment process, there are some major things that you can work on, such as:
-The adopted child will need his or her own bedroom. So if that means you need to move house, or extend, or whatever, then you might start thinking about that now.
-Many agencies/SWs want you to have childcare experience outside of your family and your birth child. So thinking of ways to get this experience could be useful. Experience with children who have any kind of additional needs would be most valuable.
-Think about how you parent your DS. If you don't know much about it yet, read up on attachment focused parenting, as this is what most adopted children will need. Children who haven't been adopted, like your DS, most certainly won't suffer from that style of parenting, so you could start practising a different parenting style. That may also help avoid bitterness once your new child comes home, where your DS may say 'but why is she/he allowed that but not me?' Instead you would be parenting both children the same way.
-Start saving. You may have to take more time out from work than you anticipated.

Puddinganarchy Fri 21-Mar-14 16:43:57

Wow Meita, thanks so much for that detailed and considered response. There is lot in there that I hadn't realised or thought about. And we don't have a third bedroom so that is an issue. I had thought a boy would be able to share with our son. I think I need a chat with our local authorities adoption line to talk through with them some of the things you raised and see their stance on this. Thanks so much again for taking the time to post all of this.

Italiangreyhound Fri 21-Mar-14 21:03:57

We have a birth dd who is 9 and are hoping to adopt a 4 year old boy. Feel free to ask anything you like, my experiences are probably not typical because we thought about adoption then went away and spent/wasted a vast amount of money on fertility treatment and started looking into adoption seriously when DD was 7. So it's taken about 2 years but that is not typical now.

FamiliesShareGerms Fri 21-Mar-14 21:59:52

Meita has given you lots of good advice. Two quick additions: adopting after a birth child is not as unusual now as it once was , so SW should be better equipped to consider your position. And we adopted DD when DS was nearly 6 - they adore each other and are completely brother and sister, but we were incredibly lucky throughout the process and not everyone is.

Feel free to pm me with specific Qs

Puddinganarchy Sat 22-Mar-14 10:58:46

Thanks everyone for your replies and help. There's a lot to consider! Thanks again.

PheasantPlucker Mon 24-Mar-14 12:35:57

In our prep group 3 of the 5 couples had a birth child/ren, including us.

Good luck!

Fusedog Mon 24-Mar-14 16:13:21

Hi we have just adopted a one year old baby and have a 14 year old birth child please feel free to ask anything xxx

Fusedog Mon 24-Mar-14 16:16:24

My top tips are

The bigger the age gap the better

Use a VA and not a LA

Talk to your child about adoption sw will expect your child to be prepped you need to start the conversation ASAP

Thebluedog Mon 24-Mar-14 19:20:54

We've just adopted a 2 year old and have a 6 year old birth dd.

We did this via our local authority, there has to be at least a 3 year age gap and the adopted child will be the younger one. I felt we got less questions around parenting as you already have a birth child, but more around how you prepare your BC for adoption and ensuring the AC is suitable for all the family.

Feel free to ask any questions

MaryQueenOfSpots Mon 24-Mar-14 21:08:39

Fusedog - why a VA not LA? Any particular VA especially welcoming to potential adopters with birth children?

My DH and I are considering adoption, we already have a DS aged 5

Thanks for any tips.

Italiangreyhound Mon 24-Mar-14 21:15:28

We have a 9 year old and there will be about a 5 year gap if/when it all works out.

I agree, big gap - good.

We went with our local county council, we were treated well and got lots of support.

I don't really see the appeal of a voluntary agencies but I am sure there are people who prefer them. Maybe someone can say why? I haven't had experience of any.

I guess the best people to say are those who explored both. We only tried our country council in the end.

We are Christians and I know some people go with a voluntary agency if it is religious, Roman Catholic or whatever, organisation because they feel they will be treated better. We were treated well and our faith was not an issue at all.

Italiangreyhound Mon 24-Mar-14 21:16:47

I agree with thebluedog when they says *I felt we got less questions around parenting as you already have a birth child, but more around how you prepare your BC& - yes we did too.

Fusedog Mon 24-Mar-14 22:09:18

poster MaryQueenOfSpots I was a foster carer for almost 7 years with a LA but adopted with a VA and I can say I feel VA social workers are more realistic about family life also I feel with the LA sw get there monthly wage weather you get approved or not also regardless of how long it takes were as with VA they only get paid once your approved and the child is placed

Personally I feel these is a lot less mucking about and tend to just say if there is a issue were as I have found LA dither just my view seeing from both sides and I have to say from what I have read most complaints seem to come from those with LAs

my other big concern is that because LA have there won children they seem to hold on to adopters for dear ice not really wanting them to look country wide how can you find the right match if your only ever looking a very tiny number of children in one LA and as matching is much more important when getting a seconed child I really think you need to look every were from the off and have a wide a choice as a possible also I do feel VA are more open to adopters taking ownership of ooking for a match. Were LA seem yo Ike being in control personally I wouldn't let my best friend of 25 years choose a car for me so why would I let a sw of possibly 1 year choose my child and my CB sibling

Italiangreyhound Wed 26-Mar-14 00:28:45

In our area with our county I don't see it that the social worker chooses the child.

My understanding in our area is that the family finder chooses two (or more) families/couples or individuals and then offers these choices to the child's social worker who chooses the best choice for the child from those options. However, the couple/individual can say no to those suggestion.

How does it work with a VA?

May09Bump Wed 26-Mar-14 00:46:34

We have recently started thinking about adoption (we have a long way to go before deciding whether it is right for us or more importantly whether we are the right family for a child).

My mother was adopted and GP's also fostered a lot of kids successfully helping to raise happy adults, so naturally a consideration for us. We have a 5yr old, and would be interested in a similar age range - mainly because they could experience similar things together. Can someone explain the reasoning regarding the age gap?

Meita Wed 26-Mar-14 11:18:12

May, there are a few aspects, totally just my opinion:
- Not wanting to disturb the 'natural' hierarchy within the family
Your first-born is your first-born and should not be usurped from that position. Which is why it is nearly unheard of that anyone would adopt a child who is older than, or indeed the same age as, any children they have already. Younger siblings joining the family is seen as more 'natural'. (I don't personally totally agree with this. Referring to 'the natural order of things' tends to annoy me, it is frequently used where no other arguments seem to be found... However, the 'naturalness' argument is something you won't get around. Consider it as a given, unless you move to the US or such, that if you adopt, the adopted child will be younger than your BC.)

- developmental age not the same as chronological age
Many children who need adopting have had such experiences and backgrounds which mean that their developmental stage may significantly lag behind their chronological age. This means that even if you were to adopt a child of similar age to your BC, they may very well NOT be able to experience similar things together. On the other hand, them being the same age or only a little younger, would make it very hard not to compare - and comparisons would likely always turn out unfavourably for the AC. Which might just reinforce their belief, which they gained from early experiences, that they are rubbish, not worthy of being loved, not as good as other children, undeserving...

- AC having more needs, and the effects on sibling rivalry
I think it only makes sense to expect that an AC will have a lot of needs. So imagine your two similar age children, maybe both are at infant school. You are constantly going to meetings, therapy sessions, doing one to one work, ... but only with/for one of the two. The other, though at a similar stage, has to get on by themselves as you simply don't have time to attend to their needs as well. Doesn't sound ideal, does it?
A larger age gap means that whereas the AC will have more needs, they will be of a different nature than the needs your older BC has. Your BC won't get (as much) jealous of you taking the AC to regular SN toddler groups, when they themselves are at secondary school.
Your BC will have to share, not just toys, and not just for a few hours a day... they will have to share YOU, and ALL THE TIME. So if the kind of attention they need from you, is very different than the kind of attention the AC needs from you, there will be less competition and less comparison, and hopefully, more getting along.

FWIW my personal hunch is that the younger the children involved are at the time of adoption, the less problematic a small age gap; and the older they are, the more necessary a large age gap. So for instance, if you were adopting a 5yo I'd think a 4y age gap would help, if you were to adopt a 7yo, then a 7y age gap would be helpful, but if you were to adopt a 18months old, then a 2y age gap may be 'sufficient'. But that's just a hunch.
I have been interested in this question myself, and have frequently heard that 'all research and experience says that the larger the age gap, the better' however no-one has been able to actually point me towards this research, and though I am a social scientist and have access to research publications, and know how to search databases, I haven't found anything myself either. I'm not saying it isn't true, only that I haven't found it yet. And though there are IMO some 'bad' arguments for age gaps, that doesn't make the 'good' arguments less true.

Fusedog Wed 26-Mar-14 12:01:49

poster Meita

i think also the reasoning behind having a large age gap is that if you adopt a child who end up have very difficult behaviour eg sexual or emotional they are far less likey to influence the older CB behaviour

For instance when I was fostering I had a toddler who swore it cu*t and sh*it and all sorts of foul things as my bc was much older he was pretty much horrified however if I had a toddler and was fostering a older child who swore my toddler may think it was the thing to do*

Even things like sexual advances it's far more likely 6 year old will be able to defend themselves against a sexual advance or so muting innaproprate from a 2 year old than a 2 year old would against A 6 year old.

Italiangreyhound Wed 26-Mar-14 13:17:40

This thread may or may not help...

Meita and Fusedog your comments are very thoughtful.

Meita I do not think it is (in your own words) 'just' your opinion, (*totally just my opinion*). I have heard those arguments too and they are (I think) very sound and sensible.

The natural order one is less important not (to me) than the others, but if you were to ask families who had step children how it complicated things to have new 'step siblings' of the same or similar age, it may make more sense.

Sometimes people will say stuff like, I know someone who has less than a year between her birth siblings and they get on fine. They may well do so, there was virtually never a time they were together and they grew together and had (in the case I am thinking of I am sure the kids were treated in a very similar way, which is not the case for children adopted). Also in the real life cases I know of where there are twins and children who are very close in age they do not always get on especially well, so I don't think there are any benefits to their age being similar. If kids want this (I am sure my dd wanted a child similar to her own age as a play mate), the reality is they are perhaps imagining what it would be like if a school friend was around to play with all the time. Of course they can't imagine it because a school friend is not around all the time. If they were it would quickly become a different relationship altogether!

My own sister and I are very close in age but were not exceptionally close until we reached adulthood. So I can't see the real benefits of closeness in age but I can see lots of possible problems that Meita and Fusedog have mentioned.

Also if you live in a rural area some schools only have entry every two years so sibs of within one school year (two chorological years starting with September) to each other are actually in the same class together! This would have been the case for me and my sis and would have been very hard as I have dyslexia and was not very good at school at all whereas my sister seemed to do better. So being a class together would have been very hard. This is an extreme example you see what I mean.

Fusedog Wed 26-Mar-14 16:17:28

Totally agree my sil has twins and they are always fighting always trying to assert themselfs for mummies love and always ask who she loves most and there defiantly is a more bossy twin

And actually it think many schools,now separate twins or siblings of a similar age often to to protect the less dominant being suffocated

Italiangreyhound Wed 26-Mar-14 16:44:06


That not is in the wrong place...

That should not read

The natural order one is less important not (to me) than the others

It should read

The natural order one is less important (to me) than the others

and that not should travel down to...

....there was virtually never a time they were not together ...

Yes, my friend (whose kids are just 13 months apart) chose the bigger local school so kids would not be together.

May09Bump Wed 26-Mar-14 17:44:53

Thanks for that comprehensive answer Meita, definitely a lot to think about.

I get every child is different and maybe I'm being idealistic thinking about how nice it would be to be in a similar age range. I also found my childhood a bit lonely even with siblings (age gaps of 3yrs).

Really appreciate you sharing your experience - such a help. Hope all goes well with your new little one.

We will continue discussing, etc - such a big decision.

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