Friday, February 13, 2009

I'll take the group with the baby...

If I thought that what I am ready to post would cause people to not want to adopt sibling groups with babies, I wouldn't post it. But I know that is won't change the dynamic so I will risk it.

But I like to point out things that most people think are "obvious" and show how on the surface something is plain as day really isn't always that simple.

I've posted this picture before, but I'm doing it again to make a point that there really is no way to determine how things are going to turn out.

Here are some assumptions:

1) If you get the kids as younger kids you'll have a better chance at making a difference.

2) Younger kids will have less issues.

3) Older kids are difficult and have a harder time attaching.

Advocates of teenage adoption have slogans like "Younger doesn't mean better it just means longer" and "puppies grow up to be dawgs." Very very true statemetns.

Last week I posted a couple of sibling groups each with 4 girls under the age of 8. One group was ages 4-8. They were adorable. All I saw when I looked at the picture was drop dead gorgeous teenage girls ages 14-18. And I was shuddering at the the horror of the thought of it.

If I post a ten year old boy, I might get two responses. If I posted a ten year old boy with his infant sister, I would get 50. How fair is that to the ten year old? And what are the risks in a situation like that?

Cindy started an excellent discussion today, spurred on by Yondalia, about whether or not to separate siblings, and like Cindy, I don't have the answers. But this blog and the conversation I had when with Cindy when I was there have spurred on my thinking and prompted me to write this disjointed blog entry.

Back to the picture. I have told Leon and Tony that I am going to have them travel with me someday so I can explain how sometimes myths aren't . Tony (caucasian boy in the picture) came at 19 months, has been with us for 12 years, and he and I have trouble getting along for 5 minutes. He has multiple issues we never knew he would have and is the most difficult child I have parented and that's saying something. Leon (the other boy in the picture) came when he was almost 13. He is a joy. He loves his mom, let's me hug him in public, has a strong sense of self, is bright, unmedicated, undiagnosed, and has a lot of character. He has from day one been a contributing member to our family system and has not once talked back to me. And Sadie is exactly like one would hope. The youngest in a sibling group, coming to us at four, she is a pure delight 99% of the time. Her older brother and sister have given us a run for our money, but she has always been emotionally aware and reciprocal, very attached to us, and delightful.

However, logically, the reverse is often true. Do birthmothers on the edges of society become better mothers as time goes by? Not often. They become more stressed out, more addicted, more marginalized, more frustrated. They drink more, take more drugs, and because of stress are often more violent with each child. So, as Cindy pointed out in our private conversation, often the child that is the youngest one in the sibling group is the MOST difficult, not the least, and you end up having them for what seems like forever.

People are always going to want to adopt a baby. My post isn't going to change that. And children deserve to spend as much of their childhood in a safe, permanent family. But if for one minute parents are thinking that if they come younger they are going to be easier and less damaged, there certainly aren't any guarantees.


Hannah_Rae said...


I am stuck in the middle of this perdicament right now. I want a baby. We are currently looking at adopting out of the foster care system, and in fact sent for more information about two kiddos from your agency's site, and it is hard to not look at the 14 year olds and think "They won't think of me as their mother."

Part of it is that my husband and I are only 24. How would a 14 year old girl or boy see a 24 year old as mom? I desperatley need to be "mom". Not big sister, or auntie, "Mom"!

So we are looking at a sibling group where the oldest is 7 and we are looking at another where the oldest is 10.

It's been a hard thing for me to really think about, but I really do need to have that chance to nurture a little one.

Torina said...

All three of my kids are the youngest of sibling groups (the siblings were already all placed with relatives or adopted out by the time my kids came along). My kids have, by far, the most significant special needs of all their siblings. Not to say that their siblings don't have issues, too...but my kids' stories have much left to be told :)

Yondalla said...

All four of my boys came to me as teenagers. Three are the oldest kid in their families. None of them were on long-term meds (though one did well on an antidepressent for a while).

The older a child is the more you know about them. I would be terrified to adopt a younger child.

Cindy said...

Hannah Rae, I read a great book, years ago, "There Are Babies to Adopt," and it IS possible if you hang in there. That early nurturing is soooooooo necessary.

debbie said...

a lot of what you are saying is also knowing what questions to ask and what to look for. about the birth mom. and about where they have lived from birth on. a newborn can form lifelong attachment issues in 3 months of bad care. a child who is older and has had good placements, security, etc. has a better chance. i once had a placement of a 5 year old who in spite of living with birth mom that whole time was "normal". why? her mom, though she had the i.q. of about a 10 year old (seriously, not a bad joke), loved her kids and provided as best she could. that child was adopted and has turned out just fine. i have had my daughter since birth, the first one to hold her, etc., and she is never going to be fine, thank you alcohol. my son was born with FAS and clearly addicted to cocaine, was abused the first 2 months in foster care because of his race. thank heavens by then i knew lots about attachment disorders and worked on him from from the minute i had him. another big difference. if i had not had that education, i would have simply assumed a good home would overcome 2 short months of abuse. but by then i knew better. he has NO attachment issues. what you need to look at, hannah rae, is the history, then the child. you could very easily attach to an older child if they are capable. my 2 have serious mental illness and have been under psychiatric care since they were toddlers. and i have given them my life but you cannot battle what is already there. you can just keep trying. not to be redundant, but i also had a set of twin 2 year olds with severe attchment disorders and spent their first year with me working constantly on that issue, they went on to be adopted also and are now about 8 years old and were able to attach just fine. attachment to me is one of the hugest and most ignored issues in foster care. if you address that and really commit to working on it, not just ignore it and assume it will "kick in", it will make a huge difference in placements. i am constantly reading blogs and stories from people who's children clearly have this disorder and they did not know and no one told them that this is the primary issue to be addressed. you can nuture a toddler or preschooler just as much as a baby, hannah rae, and he or she will truly be your child

Hannah_Rae said...

Thank you so much for the feedback. I will look up that book Cindy. Debbie, I am so glad I am learning so much about attachment right now, so that when God does show us who our children are going to be, we will be somewhat prepared.

Thank you for the hope.