For some of you, this information will be a repeat. This post is for those thinking of adopting two unrelated children from China.
Well, I have been thinking a lot about how I would respond if someone asked about adopting two at once. I have decided that the best answer would be to tell you our story. I don't think anyone can tell you to do it or not. What I hope is that what I say will make you pause and think about how you and your family will be impacted by this huge decision.
First, I think it is crucial that you understand the dynamics of our family. That is very important for the rest of our story. My husband and I have been married for sixteen years. I am thirty-six and my husband is thirty-eight. We have two biological boys, Micah and Alex, ages twelve and ten. I am currently home schooling them in the fifth and seventh grades. Last year we adopted a sixteen month old little girl, Lily, from China. She will be three the day after Christmas. Our adopted daughter has albinism. If you are unfamiliar with this, it is the lack of pigment in her hair, eyes, and skin. She is legally blind, but you would never know it.
We decided to adopt another little girl so that Lily would have a playmate. Also, we are Christians and feel that adoption is our way of caring for the orphans, as God commands us. So, we jumped right back in the process. Seven months from returning home with Lily, we received Mae's, age two, referral. She has brachial plexus nerve damage in her right arm. She can use her arm and two fingers, but not much. We were very excited.
Fast forward a few months. Throughout the process I would look at advocacy blogs and groups. I soon discovered that boys with albinism were often not adopted. My husband and I decided that we would at some point adopt a little guy with albinism. Then, with the new program of adopting two becoming possible, we decided why not now? Why wait? We could make one trip and bring both children home.
We prayed about it and decided to move forward. We knew we would be delaying Mae's adoption by about three months. But, we knew that one trip this year was all we could afford. It seemed the right thing to do. We called CCAI about seeing if any little boys with albinism were available. We had tight parameters. He had to be between three and six, have albinism, and we would need a referral within a few days. I did not want to delay Mae's process any more than necessary. CCAI called back in an hour and told us about Nathaniel, age four.
We accepted the referral and moved forward with the process. Adding the second referral did delay us by about three months. We ended up traveling in August. The trip over was an adventure in itself. But, that is a story for another day. We arrived in our province and were ready to receive our children. I forgot to mention that they are from the same province, Henan.
Mae came to us first kicking and screaming. She hated me. It broke my heart to see her reaching for her caretaker while her caretaker cried. I held Mae tight while trying to calm her down. Within moments Nathaniel was brought to us. Jon took over with Nathaniel while I continued to hold Mae. Nathaniel didn't really skip a beat when he was brought to us. As long as he had food he was good.
In China was tough. Neither of us ever got a break. Mae would not let me put her down, so I never got a chance to bond with Nathaniel. Jon never had the chance to bond with Mae because he was always looking after Nathaniel. We opted out of all the touring because it was just too much. We handled it fine, but we were tired.
Once home, I was ready for some tough adjustments. I wasn't blind about the challenges we were going to face, but I wasn't prepared for everything. Lily really had a tough time. She now had to share me, her toys, and her room. Her tantrums escalated. Nathaniel now had to learn how to be in a family and have boundaries. His whole world had opened up and he was ready to explore. By that I mean he has no impulse control. Mae managed very well.
Now we have been home for four months. At this moment, I would say that it is the hardest so far. I am exhausted managing three little ones all day. It is like having triplets, they are so close in age. I am constantly pulled between the demands of managing the littles and the needs of home schooling my boys. Lily and Nathaniel are constantly throwing fits. It requires a lot of physical activity from me to remove them from the situation and put them in time outs. I am so thankful that Mae has such an easy going personality. I don't usually have to worry about her.
The bonding once home has gone well. Nathaniel is now completely attached to me. In some ways maybe a little too much. He has a hard time when I leave the house without him. I had to keep Mae with me for a long time. She would easily go to others and I did not want her to think she could shop around for another mama. I am just now comfortable with others outside of our immediate family holding her. Even now, I will step in at times and keep her close to me.
However, there are moments when I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. I know that a year from now I will look back and see how much easier things have gotten. I love all of their hugs and kisses. I love hearing them each telling me that they love me. I am blessed to be a part of their lives, and be able to parent them. I do not regret the decision we made, however I would not adopt two at once again. Every night I crash into bed.
So, while I will not say whether you should or shouldn't adopt two at once, I do have some questions for you to discuss with your family.
What is the structure of your family now? How will your other children (if you have any) adjust when you are focused on your new ones?
What kind of support do you have? Are there others who can give you advice and hear you when you are down?
How much time will be required to help each child with their special needs? What kind of appointments will you be going to? How often?
Are you prepared to have little time to yourself?
Have you adopted before?
Do you realize that you do not know what type of personality is coming to you? Are you prepared that they both might have some behavioral issues?
Are you doing this just because it will save you money?
If you are determined to move forward, then I think it is imperative that you know how you will get through each day. Have a plan, gather support, and be open to advice. Be willing to think outside of the box and make changes in your life. Then, if you get home and each child is like my Mae, you will be pleasantly surprised. However, if you have two that are challenging, you will be prepared to dig deep and persevere.