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One child or two?

(19 Posts)
Acorn44 Sun 20-Mar-16 12:26:48

After the joy of being approved as adopters this week, suddenly the reality of matching has hit me and I'd appreciate some advice (though we do realise, in the present climate, matching is likely to be a very long way away sad). We have been approved for one or two children, aged between 3 and 6, and my partner and I are struggling to agree on which would be best in our circumstances.

Currently I work four days a week as a teacher (SEN within mainsteam) and intend to return to work after adoption leave (hopefully 0.6 rather than 0.8). Obviously this involves some work at home in the evenings. He works full time in a position which requires him to work shifts and occasionally have overnight stays. His schedule changes on a monthly basis - no two months are the same - but as an example, in April he will not be home until later in the evening (6.30 -9.00) on 11 school days and will be away over night on three.

He would love to have a sibling pair (we have two spare rooms and could just about afford it) and feels that the two would support each other. I too - up until now - have liked the idea of having two, especially as we are both one of a pair and are close to our own siblings. However, now it's more 'real', I am having doubts about our ability to cope with going from none to two, given our working patterns (we do have a good support network but I dont want to rely on this). The local village primary has good wrap-around care.

I read a thread on a different forum where all but one of the adopted parents responding had found having two adopted siblings very challenging and they regretted it. Some had ended in disruption and a few parents had ended up close to a breakdown. Nearly all said the children, for understandable reasons, competed for your attention and the rivalry was very hard to manage, very different to having siblings within a birth family. Many were not given the full picture or a detailed sibling assessment before adopting, which made things worse.

My question is this really - what's your experience? Any positive stories? How did you cope financially with going from none to two? How hard was it to adjust to working and being the parent of two traumatised little ones? Any advice? My partner is incredibly laid back while I have the tendency to over-think, so I am hoping you can provide a balance. I didn't sleep a wink last night - a combination of excitement and fear for what the future will bring!

PS Sorry this is so long - didnt want to drip feed.

MypocketsarelikeNarnia Sun 20-Mar-16 12:46:05

We adopted one baby but already had a bc. I distinctly remember thinking at the time that going from 0 to 2 children must be the hardest thing in the world.

I am a SAHM so I was a v experienced parent - loads of support, lots of other mum friends to see for coffee/playdates etc, knew where all the parks /playgrounds/soft plays/playgroups etc were, was used to spending my days covered in porridge trying to reason with unreasonable and STILL going from 1 child to 2 was insanely hard.

Then you add into the mix that there is fairly likely to be some aspect if the relationship that will need therapeutic parenting - dc1 is very controlling of dc 2 or they have a trauma bond, or just heightened sibling tension exacerbated by the trauma of a move... And how will you REALLY know if that's the case from Ss?

But then there are people here who have done it very successfully. And I'm sure they'll be along to tell you how soon smile

MypocketsarelikeNarnia Sun 20-Mar-16 12:51:32

I would be SO wary of the idea that they will support each other. My bc is at the upper range of your ages and is one of the most emotionally intelligent children I know and loves her sibling completely and there is NO WAY she would be able to 'support' anyone else if her world crashed down around her ears and had to be rebuilt. Which is what the move from fc to forever family is.

Alljamissweet Sun 20-Mar-16 17:37:22

We adopted 1 LO nearly 3 years ago. I was all for adopting 2 or 3 thinking that as I'd been a teacher for 20 years it would be straight forward.
Nothing but nothing prepared me for this! Our lo was just 2, is a very easy to parent lo and even so we are so glad we only adopted one. We looked up traumatic sibling bonds online..... I know people that have adopted 2 and 3, all doing really well but you must consider how you would cope with your new "normal". I took a year off and now only work school hours, We are there at drop off and pick up, no breakfast or after school clubs. We are hoping this will help our lo in the long run.
Keep an open mind, brace yourself for the fact that you might not be able to go back to the hours you worked before and you really won't know until you meet and get to know your lo/s.
We love being parents though, no regrets and we would not be without our lo.

tldr Sun 20-Mar-16 19:17:02

We adopted 2. It was insanely hard and that was with them being quite young and with no additional problems.

Further down the line, they're very close and very loving and I'm pleased for them they have each other, but that could have been a very double-edged sword if it had caused placement to breakdown.

Would I do it again? No idea.

Happy to talk more by pm if you want.

UnderTheNameOfSanders Sun 20-Mar-16 19:27:42

Nearly 9 years ago we adopted a sibling pair, then aged 8 and 2.5. I stopped work to become a SAHM, and finances were luckily not an issue for us.

It was massively tough going from 0-2 for the first 3 months (which included the summer holidays when I knew few people with children).

But they do have a lovely bond. They have a shared background. Contact is the same for both of them. They have someone who is related by blood to them, and they can see physical similarities between each other.

I think my bond with elder is not what is could have been if little one hadn't been around needing so much attention as younger.

however, it has been successful for us. But they hadn't bounced in and out of care, or had a stream of 'uncles' before going into care. I don't think we have done anything special, we have just been lucky.

Acorn44 Sun 20-Mar-16 19:46:18

Thank you - every one of you - for such honest and useful information. It's really appreciated (by us both!). Once we're closer to matching, I may well take you up on the offer of being able to PM you.

Once again, thanks for taking the time to reply.

Chicklette Mon 21-Mar-16 00:54:45

We adopted a 5 month old and an 17 month old at the same time and it has been pretty relentless! It's been good fun, we are very lucky and they are amazing and lovely but it has been all encompassing and FULL ON! They have been with us about 3 years and it is a lot easier now, they have a great relationship and I do hope and expect that they will be supportive of each other in the future, when they are teens or adults. It is very hard to deal with 2 children screaming for your attention and most days I feel like I could have been a better parent if there was just one of them. Having a sibling probably encourages challenging behaviour as they both vie for my attention, on the odd occasion that I just have one on their own it's like parenting a different child. Trying to do theraputic parenting or any kind of theraplay activities is really hard with 2. I carry them a lot and obviously do all the general attachment focuses parenting but physically and emotionally it is really draining to do with 2. but I also love the relationship that they have with each other and wouldn't change it for the world. We have a lot of fun and they amuse each other and play together to so in that respect it is easier than one.

Biffa44 Tue 22-Mar-16 10:50:23

We adopted two (aged 8 & 6) under the impression that they were very close and supportive of each other in their foster placement. This may have been the case, but has not been so in our house. They trigger all sorts of negative behaviour and at times they seem hard-wired to attack each other (physically, verbally, emotionally) and a lot of emotional energy is spent by us keeping them apart and keeping the peace. They deliberately goad each other and try to initiate physical violence. I hate saying this, but I feel that having two at once (and dealing with this triggering on top of their individual emotional problems) is almost overwhelming and that I could be such a 'better' parent if there was just one of them.
Therapeutic parenting is really hard to maintain when your focus is split (I need to keep them apart, but neither can bear to be on their own), and any sort of therapeutic attachment games become impossible; in theory we need to do some everyday with each child individually - DH works long hours, so I try to manage this during the week, but most days it is a practical impossibility.
Add into the mix that they are fiercely competitive and continually try to dominate all the attention. Having two at once is definitely more than twice the work/stress!
However, they are both fantastic, fabulous and wonderful and one day (hopefully) they will be a fantastic support for each other.
The other thing I would add is that I fully intended to return to work after adoption leave and (naively) thought that two together would somehow be able to deal with before/after school care better than one on their own. Well, my two can't.

tldr Tue 22-Mar-16 12:47:18

I think that anyone who has adopted more than 1 at a time would say they could have parented them better if they'd have had them one at a time, but these children don't come as ones. These children are going to get not-as-good-parenting-as-if-they'd-been-singletons regardless of who is parenting them.

I just feel like in the context of this thread, that needs to not get lost.

So yes, we can all say 'I could have done more/better, if...' But not for these DC we couldn't.

I'd say for us, the early days were easily more than twice the work (someone said to me it was children squared instead of children added) because of clinginess and competitiveness. Now I'd say it's probably not a lot harder than one (maybe even easier) because they're close in age and actually quite close so they can entertain each other (normalish sibling squabbling notwithstanding).

I was able to give them lots of one-to-one in the early days though which I think helped (and certainly helped my sanity).

SpidersFromMars Tue 22-Mar-16 13:21:09

Ive got two. And I think I'd stick to that.
It will be massively tough and relentless with one too. Adopted children are never easy, and it will change everything. But having them stay together and having them both as DC now, I couldn't imagine having only one.

UnderTheNameOfSanders Tue 22-Mar-16 13:23:26

That is a very good point tldr. I feel less guilty now. smile

tldr Tue 22-Mar-16 13:26:38

Excellent. My work here is done. wink

Acorn44 Tue 22-Mar-16 18:31:58

Thanks again to you all. Really useful to hear from you rather than the SWs or text books! Having got used to home study and regular SW visits, it seems very quiet now, post panel, so I'm using these threads (MN Adoption) to learn as much as I can. You seem far more balanced than some of the other adoption related sites I've visited smile

Acorn44 Tue 22-Mar-16 18:32:56

Ought to add, I meant 'balanced' as in giving a broad range of perspectives; not suggesting anyone's unstable wink

UnderTheNameOfSanders Tue 22-Mar-16 21:58:37

re 'balanced'

I think AUK site and the offshoot board that started when they ruined the AUK forum site can give an 'unbalanced' view. This is because people who adopt and have no/few issues tend to go sailing off into the sunset and not keep posting. Whereas those having difficulties tend to keep posting, so you can get a view that all adoptions have medium-major problems.

Whereas here on MN, people post about all sorts of stuff due to the wide user base and large number of topics. So people use MN and, if they happen to have adopted, come on here.

However, I do think there is a wide variety wealth of experience on the other adoption boards that provide a fantastic resource for new adopters. Loads of stuff to be aware of, provided people realise that not all children have all the issues!

SpookyRachel Wed 23-Mar-16 17:30:52

I have an ac and a bc. In your position, I would keep it open for as long as you can. Adopting even one child is not easy - two is even less easy, and I would divest yourself of any idea that it might make life easier (they'll play together, they'll look after each other, it will be easier to settle them in childcare settings etc). I think siblings are ALWAYS a mixed blessing, as you can never give each child the attention they crave - with adopted children this is amplified. I know people who have adopted two or three siblings who are constantly unsure whether the children are better off together or would be better apart (I know this is heresy in most parts of MN, and before adopting myself I would never have said it!)

But but but: you will be adopting unique individuals, not other people's experiences. The child that comes to you, that tugs at your heart, may be a singleton or may come with a sibling who also tugs at your heart. Plus, very pragmatically, you will have a higher chance of getting matched if you keep your options open.

Do ask away if you want to know more about the lived experience of adoption. I was thinking about this earlier today, specifically about how my experience (6 years in) has differed from the half-formed assumptions I had in advance. I think the key one was that I had quite a black-and-white view of what 'successful adoption' meant. I thought I would either get lucky and have an 'undamaged' child and all would be rosy, or I would encounter hideous problems and my life would be ruined. (When I say 'thought', I think it would be more accurate to say 'feel'.) The reality is, for me, that nearly all children are damaged by adoption, that mine has been hurt in ways that I would not believe possible for a child who was adopted so young, that parenting her is hugely challenging and stressful, but that she is also delightful beyond my dreams and I love her to bits. I certainly believe that adoptive parents should not expect to parent in the standard way - I wish I had fully appreciated this earlier. But the rewards are enormous.

Themoleandcrew Thu 24-Mar-16 19:51:36

We adopted two siblings under the age of three. It was (and still is) very hard. My friend compared it to giving birth to twin toddlers. However. Despite the challenges of having our entire world turned upside down, we have since adopted a third sibling (she came home almost a year to the day the older children moved in). We have both continued to work full time as we work shifts. (I'm about to drop to part time though) with no family help. So it can be done, although it is bloody hard. We were Lucky in that I took adoption leave and OH was able to work reduced hours for around three months to help with the initial shock. It has been the best thing we've ever done, we consider ourselves to be so ridiculously lucky to have our chaotic little family. I'm happy to answer any more specific questions you may have via pm.

Acorn44 Fri 25-Mar-16 16:33:24

You don't know how much I have appreciated your honesty and experience. Well meaning friends and family have given me all sorts of advice, but -as some of you allude to - you just cant compare parenting adopted children with having a birth child or children.

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