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Sunday 26th of March 2017

As your family grows . . . Things to think about when pursuing a second adoption

Adoption is a very different process the second time around. The anxiety and stress are less when you've already rocked a cradle once. You know enough to know that it WILL work out if you take the right steps. You also know enough to be savvy about the process. But it can still be a confusing and stressful time. Here are some things to consider when you're ready to add to your family . . .again!

 

Choosing a country

 

For most of us, China holds a very strong pull. Having one child from China, it can feel very natural and logical to try for a second from China. For many people this does make sense. You only have one culture to integrate into your home life. You know the procedure. You may even have contacts at an orphanage in China that can help you the second time through. Plus it makes it a whole lot easier to respond when nosy strangers ask "Where are they from?". Most significantly, many parents feel their children will share a special bond since they both came from the same country and from similar circumstances.

A couple of considerations about going with China the second time around are: Most of the children coming from China are girls. If you want a boy, the process could be a bit trickier. However, don't despair. Plenty of people have adopted boys from China and it can be done. Secondly, China requires those adopting a second child to take one with a handicap. Many agencies are saying this could be something very minor, or that they can work around the requirement. You will have to ask yourself how you feel about adopting a child with a handicap, or how you feel about working around the requirement.

Traveling to China a second time is an issue for many families. It's one thing to head overseas when you're "child-free". With a second adoption, you've got the first child to think about. Do you leave her home, and return weeks later with a new child? Do you take her along? The travel requirement has led some families to consider other countries that allow escorts for their second adoption. Lastly, some people decide to adopt from a different country the second time as a way of avoiding the constant comparisons that come when two children are somewhat similar. Some fear the "two beautiful little China dolls" syndrome. Others want their second child to have a different identity and origin than their first because they remember what it was like to live in the shadow of a perfect older sibling.

 

Choosing an agency

 

By the time you complete your first adoption, you know your agency pretty well. Are they organized? Do they communicate well? Are they honest, ethical and fair? You know all their faults, and you know that they get the job done. After all, they helped you adopt one child. The question becomes, "The Devil you know, or the Devil you don't know." If you feel comfortable with the agency or facilitator you used last time, that tends to be the easiest way to jump back into the process. You may be able to do a simple homestudy update, rather than starting from scratch. And since the agency already knows your family, chances are good they will work extra hard to meet your needs. However, if you are uncomfortable about something that happened during your first adoption, this is the time to switch!

 

Finding the money

 

International adoption is incredibly expensive. Many of us "broke the bank" on the first adoption, and have remained broke as new parents. How to get the money for a second try? There is no easy answer to this. Several new agencies believe they can help you adopt for less, so shopping around may make sense.. There are some documents available that explain how to do an independent adoption in China. However it's unclear that this process would be less expensive. At least if the adoption tax credit goes through, we can count on getting a break from Uncle Sam on future adoptions.

Preparing Siblings

 

Your tummy doesn't grow (unless stress makes you overeat). There's no morning sickness, ultra-sound or hospital visit. But in every way, you are expecting. Soon-to-be siblings will need a special explanation of this blessed event. And be prepared. The new arrival will raise lots of questions about where your other child (or children) came from.

Unlike pregnancy, adoption offers no concrete nine-month time frame. So it can be difficult to decide when to tell children about the adoption. In my own home, I began discussing the idea of a little brother or sister in vague terms with my daughter, around the time that I did my paperwork and homestudy. As things firmed up, I became more concrete, saying "Someday you WILL have a brother or sister". When I got a referral and a photo, I couldn't hold back any longer. I shared my excitement and joy with her. I'm not sure she "got" it (she was just shy of three years old at the time), but she took the picture with her to preschool and showed it to friends and visitors. As the arrival date approached (my son was brought by an escort from Vietnam), she discussed him constantly. And it did lead to some questions about how she got here. As always, I tried to be honest and clear in my responses. She seemed to really understand the idea that both of them came from far away places to be part of this family and to stay forever. In fact, I feel in a lot of ways, the arrival of her brother clarified several aspects of the adoption issue for my daughter. But, boy, did we do a LOT of talking!

Meanwhile, those who travel for their second adoption must also consider preparing their first child (or children) for travel, or preparing them for the absence of one or both parents. Again, this will involve a lot of talking. Taking older children along could be the trip of a lifetime, or a nightmare, depending on the attitude, abilities and adaptability of the child. A number of families have done it, and it might make sense to consult them for tips. Leaving a child with grandparents, other relatives or friends can also be very special, as long as the child has ample preparation and a secure relationship with parents.

Finally, just as with the arrival of a birth-sibling, your home and your child's environment must be prepared. I found it helpful to get my first child out of the crib, highchair and other "baby" equipment well in advance of the new arrival. That way there was less chance of her perceiving herself as being displaced. I actually tried to put as much of this stuff away as I could for a period of several months, and then bring it out again before the baby arrived. The experts recommend against constant use of the "big girl" phrase, as two, three and four year olds still need to feel they can be a baby sometimes. We did a lot of talking about the role of "big sister", but I tried to also baby her a lot with extra holding and care. There are a couple of pretty good books on the market geared towards preparing your first child for a birth-sibling, but still very useful in homes built through adoption.

 

Preparing for questions

 

If you thought you were getting attention from strangers with one child, try it with two. People notice. And perhaps the most irritating thing they say is "Are they brother and sister?" Of course they are, but you have to be ready for people to ask. What makes this harder is now you have an older child who is listening with sharp ears to everything you say. Those questions about where the new baby is from, how small he or she is, how tragic his or her life might have been and what a hero adoptive parents are (blah blah blah) take on new meaning when an older child is on hand. As I become more experienced, I am getting better and better and saying nothing, ignoring strangers or answering in pleasant but vague terms..

A time to relax and enjoy

 

From my own experience, and that of many others with whom I've talked, a second adoption can be very enjoyable and rewarding. I felt confident because I knew the process and knew how to navigate the paperwork maze. I also had a busy two year old to fill my time during the wait. In fact, I think that special time with the child (or children) you already have is one of the most important things to consider when working on a second adoption. Cherish that time and make the most of it. When the new child arrives, life will never be quite the same!

 

 

 

Carrie Krueger traveled to Hangzhou, China in 1992 to adopt Claire Lilai Krueger. In February of this year, Carrie and Claire welcomed Cameron VanQuang Krueger from Da Nang, Vietnam. The kids are now three and one and Carrie is getting gray hair.

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