Friday, December 16, 2011

My Thoughts on Adopting Two at Once

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.


  1. Hi Liz,
    This is Diana. Nate, Aiden and Owen's mom from Bai China. Is your Nate from Luoyang? Can you email off line?

  2. Thanks for sharing your perspective on two! We also traveled for two in August, but our boys were/are both seven so we don't have teeny toddler issues. For us, with the boys being older I think it's helped having two so they can expend their energy on each other instead of anyone having to entertain them. Our boys just met the day we met them, but fortunately they became best buddies instantly and that has been so helpful. Homeschooling all four sometimes gets chaotic, but I'm amazed at how well they boys have fit right in. Adopting a singleton (at 4, now 8) also went smoothly (with a then 7 year old bio who is now 12), so I can't say one experience was easier than another, but I'm sure age and temperament of the kids plays a huge role on how exhausting parenting can be ;) Hang in there, I'm hoping it'll only get better from here!

  3. I think it is great of you to share this information. I briefly thought about adopting two but after thinking about it with my hubby we pretty much came up with the same points you made and decided against it. Hang in there!

  4. I think of you often and wonder how you are doing. I would think 'exhausted' so what you are feeling doesn't seem out of line. But it still is exhausting. Know that 'this too shall pass' and I do believe each passing year will see good changes. ((hugs))

  5. My husband and I have one bio son 9, and one adopted daughter from Jiangxi, China age 7. She was 9mths when she was adopted. We are in process of adopting two from Henan, a 2yo girl with albinism and 18 mth boy with cleft lip/palate. We just had our USCIS fingerprints done on Wed 21st. Our older children are playmates and we are hoping that the two little ones will be playmates. I am so enjoying the honesty of your blog. I have many worries about our upcoming journey. Expecting the worst, but praying for the best.

  6. Saw your post on RQ. Didn't adopt two (and don't plan to!) but just wanted to say I appreciate your honesty! I try to blog that way too. We adopted a boy from Jiangsu, now 19 mos. and home since June. Our four kids are 7, 4, 2, and 1. The two youngest are 9.5 mos. apart...and I has been HARD. Grace, grace, grace to you, and merry Christmas! :)

  7. We are in a very similar situation home with our 2 for jsut a few weeks and all three of the littles being within 21 months of each other. THe logistics are a killer, carseats, buckles, strollers and TOYS oh heavens if I break up one more fight over toys tonight!! Just kidding they are in bed! Yes it is hard, it probably is the hardest thing I have done so far and I know the weeks and months ahead will continue to be hard. I can't imagine homeschooling on top of it, and I love your discussion questions at the end!

  8. Liz thanks for the post. We are currently adopting two deaf children from China, a girl (3) and a boy (1). We also have a 3 1/2 year old bio son. You mentioned making the trip with 2 children. Any pointers on caring for two while in China?

    1. I would suggest to not have any expectations. Plan on not doing any touring once you have both children. If you get to then it is a bonus. Don't worry about attaching to both kids while in China. It will happen once you are home. Get an Ergo! We brought two. Just take it easy and get as my ch rest as possible. You might not be able to relieve each other.

    2. That should say get as much rest as possible. Be patient! I can't even begin to imagine doing that with two children who cannot hear. Blessings on your trip. It's hard, but you will do it. :)

  9. Loved your blog...loved your story. I adopted Ming from Changsha last January after a long 5 year wait, NSN switched to SN. I dream of another child and I am drawn to children with Albinism. Wishing and thinking but I am not sure this is enough. I thought China has a rule that the youngest child in the family must be atleast 6. I am not sure if this only applies to singles (of which I am). Ming is now 2 1/2 and has repaired CL/CP. Anyway....I guess I can always dream but if I were to adopt again, I would like a child with Albinism. Thank you for your wonderful posting. It was lovely. Sincerely, a true RQ follower-which lead me to your blog. Kochanie

  10. God bless you all! I realize this was written a year ago, but just wanted to say how much I appreciate your honesty! We will be traveling, God willing, next year to pick up our two special focus toddlers, and we will be traveling with our two other toddlers...our goal is to survive ;) But, God willing, we will have help with us (our nanny and hopefully a grandparent!) Still, thanks for the heads up, most families I have known who adopted two simultaneously from the WC program received their children a few days apart, so thanks for the heads up that we may get both our boys at the exact same time!

  11. Thank you for sharing. I'm having to re-think how we homeschool, realizing that a preschooler and a toddler will totally change the dynamic of our school days. But it's good to be thinking these things now, and not be blindsided by them later.

    Since this post is an old one, my follow up question would be, how are things going now?