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Adopting from overseas as a sibling for two biological children

(11 Posts)
Crosstrees Thu 02-Feb-17 16:45:59

We live in South America and we're thinking of adopting a child here. We are at the beginning of this thought process, and I'd just like to hear from anyone who has been in our shoes. I'd also like to hear if I'm being terribly naive so don't hold back!

We're thinking of adopting a slightly older child, four to five years old. These children are difficult to adopt out, and many of them don't find families and are institutionalised until they're 18, and then face a life on the breadline. If they're girls, it's highly likely they'll have an unplanned pregnancy (80% of children here are born to single mums) so history repeats a great deal. This is obviously a heartbreaking scenario to contemplate, and I'm trying to separate it from the reality of adoption, if that makes sense.

Our main concerns are:
- we're moving to a rural-ish community soon, in my home country. People are friendly/largely liberal, but I'm worried about the child looking "different" and being reminded of this.
-There will be no one from the child's country there - no communities for them to learn about their heritage. We will of course work to educate the child on where they are from, but it's not the same.
- We all speak Spanish to varying degrees (and children are fluent) but realistically, in the chaos of day-to-day life this will peter out. If the child wants to meet their biological parents one day this will add an extra layer of difficulty as they might not be able to communicate with them.
- It's a very long, expensive trip to this country and with three children, we could not afford to do this trip often. To add to the mix, DH's family lives at the other side of the world from us, and realistically, most of our spare pennies will go towards seeing them.
- We are worried at how our children would adjust. They are four and six. Obviously we will speak with them at length before we make any kind of progress on this.
- Lastly, I'm aware that inter-country adopted children face identity problems when they hit adolescence, and there might be problems before this with adopting an "older" child. My country doesn't have a lot of provision for special needs/counselling so any problems will have to be dealt with by us.

On the plus side - we will provide love, and a stable home. We are not wealthy but we're comfortable, and the child will have opportunities. I work from home and am flexible so have time to give. DH is a teacher so can help within the education system. I know our families will be accepting and supportive.

Have I thought it through, or do I sound naive about this? Please don't hold back!

UnderTheNameOfSanders Thu 02-Feb-17 18:53:12

So roughly speaking it's something like:
You are from 2 different countries?
You live in e.g. Peru.
Your children are biologically yours, so speak British and Spanish
DH's parents live eg in Australia

Would you be doing a local adoption as per rules of the country you are in? Or would it count is inter-country adoption?
But then thinking of taking them to eg France?

Some friends adopted in S.America, wife was national of the country, DH British. It took them ages due to residency requirements, but also inefficiency ( / corruption?) of local court processes. There has then been issues with child getting permission to live in Britain too.

Would it be easier to move to your home country and adopt a child from that country? Or is that not what you want / not viable for any other reason?

Crosstrees Thu 02-Feb-17 20:38:21

Thanks for the reply, Sanders. yes, that's pretty much it with the countries! Prefer to keep it vague as our situation as explained in full outs us and I don't want this to get out while it's at the beginning stages.

Our original plan was to move home, get settled, and then adopt. But now I've discovered that there is no adoption agreement between my country and this country, which makes it all but impossible. We would be able to adopt from another country (China, Romania...), but this country makes sense to us - one of our kids was born here and has citizenship here. We know something of the culture and we have friends here and speak Spanish.

I am not sure about local court processes - this is a corrupt country. I actually visited the orphanage last week, they are helpful and very keen to get kids matched to families, so I imagine we would have a lot of help and insight from them. I also know of others who have adopted from the same orphanage, so they could help, but they still live here. It would be a local adoption.

I think (but need to check) that getting an adopted child citizenship in my country would be easy. But yes - another thing to check.

Kr1stina Thu 02-Feb-17 22:03:08

If you adopt under the laws of the country you are living in, you may need to have them living with you abroad before they will get a visa to come into the U.K. with you.

But you would need to check these things with a lawyer. Also be aware that the British government can and does change the rules on this.

Overseas adoption is very very hard in the U.K., so it would usually be easier to adopt in another country .

Can I ask about the language issue . Surely if you adopt in e.g. Peru and your children speak client Spanish , they and your adopted child will always speak Spanish together?

Will you also teach them your own first language - I assume your other children do so ?

And then if you move to e.g. France , isn't that going to be a bit confusing for the child? They speak Spanish , have learned your language and your DHs and then move to France to learn French ?

Your mentioned about adopting a child from a children's home. Have you done much research on the needs of post institutionalised children ?

How do you think an adopted child will cope with all the upheaval of you moving so often ?

Age wise, where do you see this child fitting into your family when your children are 4 and 6 ?

Crosstrees Thu 02-Feb-17 23:32:00

Hi Kr1stina, I'm not from the UK and we don't actually live in Peru - those were just examples. I am from an English speaking country though, and that's where we'll be moving.

I am fairly sure my country's rules around children adopted while overseas state that I can apply for citizenship for them easily, but I definitely need to check. Contacing a lawyer is a very good idea.

We all speak English at home, not Spanish. It would be lovely if the kids spoke in Spanish together, but I don't see it happening if it's not in use as a family. I would love to be proved wrong.

Once we move to my country we won't be moving again. DH's parents do actually live in France, but we will only visit them on holiday.

And no. I have not done much research on post-institutionalised children. This is a big concern. Do you know anything about it, can you point me in any direction? There are psychologists at the institute who I would be working with, but I already spoke to her and her goal is to have the children adopted. So I think I need to speak to someone a little more impartial.

Kr1stina Fri 03-Feb-17 12:03:02

If you google " post institutionalised children " you will find a lot of research and articles .

And of course you will want to read extensively around adoption, especially older children and cross cultural issues.

Glad to hear that any child would only have to learn one new language. I'm glad to hear that y all have good Spanish and obviously you would want to use this as much as possible to help the child over the first year or so. It's too much to deal with otherwise. And at least if you stay where you are for a few years, the child will also be educated in Spanish .

I'm still a bit unclear when you want a child the same as your current kids, rather than younger ? Won't that make it very hard for them ?

Kewcumber Fri 03-Feb-17 12:31:59

My child was adopted young (about 1yr) from an overseas institution and is now 11. He suffers from various issues probably (but not definitively) from his early life trauma.

His institution was good and caring with inhouse psychologists and a relatively good ratio of carers to children 1:6 but the effects of not having one to one care (particularly in the first 2 years) is marked.

We recently went back for a visit and I could see that the institutional behaviour in the 4-5 yr olds were quite noticeable. They have no real possessions of their own and so can be quite "robust" about sharing toys. I know from friends who have adopted older children from institutions that they have had significant problems with violence, stealing and food hoarding).

In particular we met a local family who adopted a child the same age as their oldest birth child (with another birth child 2 years younger), he was the same ethnicity/nationality as them and spoke the same language and stayed in the same country and they have struggled enormously with sibling rivalry and managing his behaviour.

I can;t tell you how strongly I would advise against adopting and older child of a similar age to your existing child. They recommend a minimum 2 year age gap between your youngest child and a newly adopted child in the UK for good reasons. You children need to be old enough to understand whats going one and to be big enough to deal with some of the problems (I think it is inconceivable that you won't have some problems). I can imagine it would be very very hard to deal with a situation of a newly adopted child who you aren't yet bonded to hurting your existing child who you obviously are bonded to.

I have a child of an unusual ethnicity in the UK and having been through a variety of issues over the last 10 years, I don;t think I would have chosen to do that had we not lived in a very international, very multicultural area. I know not everyone would agree with that but having dealt with the situation in a more multicultural environment I can see something less so would be significantly more difficult.

I agree with Kristina that the changes to where you lived on top of adoption might prove to be very challenging.

I'm not sure what specific reading you can do - I'll try to recall some of the texts we were recommended on our prep course but I really think you need to do some serious thinking about the possibility of looking into a much younger child.

gabsdot Fri 03-Feb-17 13:29:00

My children are adopted from Russia and both lived in Orphanages before we adopted them. My DD was 2.5 and the impact on her of her early years is enormous. I'd agree with Kew about adopting a younger child.

Before we adopted we did a course (18 hours total plus homework and projects) about inter-country adoption. We live in Ireland and it's the only kind of adoption we really have here. There is a strong community of Russian adopted kids and we have good support there.

Adoption is not easy and adopting inter-country has extra challenges and adopting an institutionalised child has even more challenges.
Legally it can also be very tricky. You'll need a good adoption lawyer in the country you adopt in and in your home country.

Also I'd recommend you not move back to your home country for a few years.The trauma of a move could be very difficult for your adopted child.

However you are a family willing to offer a child a home and that's wonderful. But don't go into this without the best legal advice, support, therapies lined up, etc etc.

Crosstrees Fri 03-Feb-17 13:56:04

Thank you so much for your posts. I had imagined a child the same age as mine would have slotted in a bit easier but it seems I am very wrong about that - and the "what if the child hit one of my biological children" point made me think, too. My motivation was also taking a harder-to-adopt child, but I really need to consider the impact on my existing children.

Also I'd recommend you not move back to your home country for a few years.The trauma of a move could be very difficult for your adopted child.

That gave me pause, too. Around half of the children who are adopted from here go straight to the US. Their parents don't know Spanish. I'm told they have happy lives and a lot of support but of course I have no idea.

Another big factor for us (that links in with what you've said about the needs of institutionalised children) is not having support in my country. It's an under-resourced country in terms of special education/behavioural problems so we would be on our own/having to fight the system/probably travel quite far if we needed help. I am beginning to wonder if it would be irresponsible of me to do this without that support system in place.

Thank you SO much for your insights. I appreciate you sharing your stories. We have so much thinking and reading to do.

Kr1stina Fri 03-Feb-17 16:01:22

That gave me pause, too. Around half of the children who are adopted from here go straight to the US. Their parents don't know Spanish. I'm told they have happy lives and a lot of support but of course I have no idea

All I can say on this is that a non Spanish speaking family would not be approved by the U.K. Authorities to adopt an older, Spanish speaking child. Although of course Spanish is commonly spoken in the US, unlike here.

Many of these children have problems learning English because their Spanish is also delayed.

Crosstrees Fri 03-Feb-17 17:31:35

Yes, I can imagine Kr1stina. I met some of the kids who were going off to the US. They all said how excited they were and and wondered how the reality would be for them. A massive shock, I imagine. But on the other hand there is a lot of support through the organisation that arranges the adoptions. I asked the psychologist how they prepared the children and it was pretty vague - looking at a map and some pictures.

I know Spanish is spoken more in the US but I was told most of the parents did not speak Spanish, only a few basics they'd learned for the adoption.

On the other hand, the US does take a lot of children with disabilities - ie, two older children with cerebral palsy were adopted from the orphanage last year. Here they would be destined to a life in (not great) care.

The more I think about it the more conflicted I am.

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