Monday, June 02, 2008
Should Families Adopt If They Have Young Children?
We attended a large church conference on Sunday.

We sat in a pew behind a large Caucasian family that I did not know.

I noticed that they had a young Chinese boy with them (I learned later he was just 4).

I guessed he was adopted (he was).

They had bio children just younger and older than him in their family.

It was interesting to observe the family during the 2 hr. meeting.

I noticed that the Chinese boy cried more often than the bio kids (even the younger one) when faced with the same circumstances and situations as the other kids.

He made constant "light" noise such as humming, mumbling, and other such noises, while the bio kids were very quiet.

He was removed from the meeting for disruptions several times while the other kids were not, even the youngest child (age 2).

However, he was held less and shown affection less than the others.

I took notice of the amount of time the mother showed spontaneous affection to the other children, which was often, yet I noticed she gave none to the boy.

He did sit on his father's lap for a time.

I talked with the family after the meeting and they seemed to be very nice people.

They truly had big hearts. They said that the boy was no trouble at all (I guess having to remove him from the meeting several times was no trouble for them) and fit well in their family.

He had been a special needs child due to his cleft palate, but they had, had it fixed. He had been with them almost 2 years now.

I wondered if the relationship I observed was typical.

The adopted child being the neediest, but receiving the least amount of affection.

Why was this the case I wondered.

Perhaps it was because he was so needy, because he was disruptive or because something else was missing. Or perhaps this wasn't typical at all. I had only observed this family once over a 2 hr. period.

I couldn't compare it to my own family because I am too close to my own family to see things. I can't see the forest for the trees.

But I did decide that our family was different because my older boys are not very needy. So Piney doesn't need to fight for my attention from them.

This made me wonder if it isn't good to adopt if you have other small children.

Or maybe I shouldn't say that. Perhaps if this family hadn't stepped up, the boy wouldn't have a family at all. The boy may never had, had the surgery he needed. He wouldn't have the opportunities, or the experiences and relationships he will now be able to have.

Maybe adoption is always a good choice. What do you think?


Anonymous Anonymous said...
As a parent of a bio child who has special needs, and an adopted child who is not classified as special needs, I can honestly say they both require my attention in their own way. They both get jealous of eachother, want one on one time with me, etc, all the normal things most kids want and need. So I feel, regardless of bio, adopted, older, younger, that all children want and very much need their mother and fathers attention. I also believe that adoption is always a good choice, for those who have been called to adopt. It is not always a rose garden, but neither is parenting bio children. That is why I believe it is only for those who have been called by God, to adopt one of his chidren. To adopt a child one must love thee adopted as equally as the bio. I am very blessed to be the mother of my 2 sweet children, and I wouldn't change that for the world. :)


Blogger Maggie said...
I think it was probably way too short of an observation period to make a call either way. I know that, when in public, people may think I'm not giving Slugger what he needs but that is because they don't know his full story. What make look like it needs reprimanding actually needs gentle redirection. What may look like I should just ignore it, may actually need my intervention because there's a bigger issue than what's at hand. I just think an outsider really can't know the full story.

Blogger Cathy and Nick said...
I think I am of the same mind as Maggie, that a 2 hr period may be too short to judge a situation. I have both bio and adopted kids and one is SN. At any one time I may be extra attentive to one and less so to another, irregardless of their origin to our family. Maybe the presumed adopted child had had a difficult morning and they were trying to avoid reinforcing "negative" behaviors. Maybe one of the presumed bio kids had had a difficult morning and needed "positive" attention. Who truly knows what goes on in the ebb and flow of a family in such a short snapshot of time? One thing appears certain in your time of observation: a SN child was being nurtured and cared for in a "forever" family environment vs a foster home or orphanage. While others may disagree, I know I would not appreciate being judged on my parenting skills, nor on the level of my love for a specific child, based on the observations of a stranger in an public, artifical setting such as a church service.

Blogger jeneflower said...
I want to be very clear that I was not judging this family AT ALL. I NEVER judge families on their parenting skills EVER. EVER.EVER. EVER. I had zero thoughts about whether or not they were good parents. That is totally different from simply observing something and wondering about it or thinking about it. I don't think of myself as a better mother than that mother. Not at all. I was just contemplating the relationships between bio and adopted kids as I was watching them. It made me reflect and think about my own family, but I couldn't see myself clearly. I was wondering about adoption with young children and therefore posted this to see what others thought. The fact that it comes across as a judgment is TOTALLY wrong!!!!!! I am horrified at that.

Blogger jeneflower said...
I meant that I was thinking about the relationship between parents and bio kids and parents and adopted kids. I wasn't placing a judgment on it and I wasn't judging a situation. I was just observing and wondering.

Blogger Cathy and Nick said...
Thank you for clarifying the intent of your post. The question you posed, should families with young children delay/avoid adopting other children, is a difficult one. For the child in question, there may not have been a large number of families who were ready and willing to address his SN and his PI issues, not to mention his differing racial background. I believe he is better off in his current family vs waiting (for how long?) to be adopted by a smaller sized family in which he would be the youngest. In the broader picture of adoption, I can see the benefits of the adopted child being the youngest in terms of attention, but wonder if that criteria alone should outweigh the benefits of getting more children out of foster care and orphanage systems and into permanent families. Larger sized families pose a challenge for the parents to individually address each child's needs, and there will absolutely be times when one child needs more attention than the others. But as long as there is a balance, I have to believe a child in a loving permanent family, large or small, is much better off.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Knowing that every person is different, to answer your question would be very difficult. I am not a mother of an adopted child. There are days where I find it difficult to fairly divide my affection/attention between my two young children. At times I feel like I give my older (6yrs) the short end of the stick. I don't know that I would ever be able to adopt, although I have thought about it and prayed about it for a while now. I just don't know if I would have the ability to give unconditional love to a child that wasn't my own, no matter how much I hope, wish and pray that I could. This sounds really selfish and not very nice, but it is a my inner most fear of adoption (for myself), even more so than the cost!

Blogger Tracy said...
We just adopted a little girl from Russia AND we have 5 bio boys. Our youngest is only 15 months older then our adopted daughter, and if anything, I spend much more time with Ashlyn then I do with my 2 year old. I just feel like she needs me more right now :). So to answer your question, I don't feel as though I give my bio boys more attention then I do Ashlyn. The boys love her :).

Blogger Rhonda said...
I wonder how long the little boy had been home.

I know both of my kids are very needy. In fact, when I see other kids their age with their parents, they are not nearly so needy. But, I always remind myself those other kids have had parents from birth and mine have only been home a year and a half. And, as a result, they have worries that bio kids don't have...(i.e. Bonnie wonders if she'll get lost and lose us..).

Another thing that may have been happening...with my kids, when they're in church, if I give them spontaneous affection, they think its time to be loud, play, etc. So, sometimes I hold back, because it changes their behavior when I give spontaneous affection. It tends to hype them up in public.

I'm sure with your own adoption experience, it was interesting to watch another family with an adopted child and bio children.

Blogger Mashel said...
Hi, I just found your blog through other ones, just browsing and have to ask, how old are your boys? I mean, they are not grown, so you, yourself have adopted while having young children, right? I guess I am a little confused on the question, maybe you are meaning that it might not be a good idea to mess with the birth order, and have a bio child younger then your adopted child, and I could see where you are coming from there. I think maybe it wasn't long enough of an observation to make that decision though, or maybe not enough background. Maybe the adopted boy has a hard time with affection, since he was in an orphanage, maybe that is something they are working with him on, but try not to make him feel uncomfortable in public with spontanious affection. Who knows. I know in my case, I have two boys, that are young, 6 and 4, and then we are adopting (or praying to adopt) twins that are now 7 months old, and my love for any of them is no different. (my 3 boys and a princess)

Blogger jeneflower said...
Mashel, Thanks for your comment. To answer your question my boys are 9, 13 and 15. Piney is 3.

Rhonda, I realized that it is true- if I give Piney too much attention in church she gets worse. I try not to look at her during services. She will get louder. However, it does work well for me to hold her and look at a quiet book together.

Blogger kate said...
Chiming in late...and it's kind of off-topic. I am wondering why so many agencies discourage out-of-birth-order adoption. All anyone says is that it's not a good idea. WHY is it not a good idea? What if a family has a big gap? Does that make a difference?

Didn't answer your question, but couldn't help sharing some questions of my own.

Blogger Tonya said...
In our case (we had a 9,7,5 and 3 year old at the time of our 22 month old's adoption) it was a HUGE help, not a hinderance at all. Lyra adapted amazingly quickly to family life and strongly and truly attached to us all pretty much right away. I think having so many small kids in the house made her feel very comfortable and very much a part of the group. She is constantly talking about "my fam-il-lee" and naming us all and talking about how much we all love each other. It is very cute. I love having all my kids close in age. They have a lot of fun togther. I would do the same thing over again in a heartbeat.

Blogger nates5bs said...
I didn't perceive your post to be judging. In fact, since we've barely been home 3 weeks with our new daughter, it made me do a little self-check. Although I view my new daughter as equal to my bio kids in my mind, I still have to remind myself to make sure I am treating her equal with my actions. In some ways she still feels like a stranger to me. My actions with her are thought out, but my actions with my bio kids come naturally. As I've thought thru this I have had to remind myself that I've known my bio kids for 6-9 years. I have to give myself a break since I've only known our new daughter for 3 weeks! If I am ever-mindful of this, I believe over time as I get to know her better, my actions with her will become as natural as my actions with my bio kids.


Blogger fuzzandfuzzlet said...
Our DD`s counselor often reminds me that being a fair parent does not always mean parenting each child the same.

With our DD we had to work on a lot of attachment issues. One of her issues was the fact that attention had to be given on her own terms. An unexpected head rub, kiss or hug could result in hours of cuddles.... or EAR PIERCING screams. When in public we often did not take the chance.

Our DD also has severe ADHD. What may appear to be simple acting up, or slightly disruptive behavior is often our first sign that is is about to "ping" out of control. I am sure we have been guilty about removing her from a room when a by stander may assume our son is doing the same thing. The difference is his behavior will not grow out of control, he can reign in without being removed... she can not.

Is it possible that their outward treatment of this little boy reflects their feelings for him as compared to the rest of the family? Sure, but there is also a huge possibility that there is more to the situation than meets the eye.

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