Sunday, September 11, 2011

When the older children don't want you to adopt again...

We have heard this question many times. 
I actually like answering it and have decided to post on it so it can hopefully help as many families as possible.
Each family is different. Our way of dealing with it may not work for you but maybe you can take bits and pieces of what we did and modify it for your family!

What do we do when our older child/children don't want us to adopt?
Did any of your older kids feel this way?
How did you handle it?
What did you say?
What was the outcome?
How do they feel about it now?

When we first began thinking of adopting we talked about it with our 5 birth children.
It was only a thought and before we proceeded we wanted to know how they felt about it.
We were so surprised and overjoyed that they were all on board! Johnny was the last one to go along with it. He was the youngest of the birth children and would be home with "that child" the longest- it mattered to us how he felt about it.
After a couple conversations he told us that he thought it would be great if we adopted a little girl from China.

Anna came home in August of 2007! She was 16 months old- the bio kids were 13, 17, 19,  21 and 23 when she came home.
They completely adored her and she has a bond with all of them that can never be broken!

The original plan was for us to adopt 2 children close in age and from the same country. We thought that would work well for our family and they would have each other to play with and to identify with- it was a nice thought don't you think!?!

things change and plans don't always work the way we think they will.

Our first adoption was just the tip of the iceberg and we knew God had bigger plans for us!
Our older children were not privy to the memo!
As our plans and conversations changed they were surprised.

Their feeling ranged from-

making jokes about our decisions
shaking their heads at what we were doing
feelings of displacement
feelings of replacement
some feelings of anger
embarrassment of the size of our family
embarrassed of the new children and how they may or do act
threatening their security
fears that they would have to raise these children
fears that we would be worn out and not interested by the time they had children
concerns about our finances
concerns about our health
would we have any time for them(the older kids)?
Wondering if we could actually parent all of them?
Why were we doing this? What was the point?
Were they not good enough and we were looking for someone better?
threats that they would leave and not come back IF we adopted again...
And the list goes on...

Everyone of their fears, concerns, insecurities were valid.

Even though we did not share these same thoughts they were all said to us with complete sincerity.

They all needed to be discussed.
Everyone of our birth children needed to have answers that they could trust. Answers that calmed their fears, that reassured them of their value and their place in our family.

How do I know this? 
Because at first we dismissed them and their concerns and frustrations built- they were not going to be easily dismissed.
We needed to sit down and talk to them individually and discuss their thoughts respectfully.

** Very Important**
Do not sit down with all of the older children at once. Do it individually.

**Very Important**
They need to talk about "their" concerns not their siblings and not what they have all come up with collaboratively!

Yes, they will all get together and talk about it and the next thing ya know ya got a mutiny!

Kind of a gang mentality- we separated the gang and talked to them individually.

We had the rule that they could not say "we". 
It could only be "I" or "me"!

Some of their feelings, thoughts, and concerns were the same but we found that their main concerns were usually different and went along with their different personalities. 

Some of our conversation went on over time. They couldn't be completely settled in one sitting.

We found that some of the kids needed time to figure out their feelings and come to terms with them.
Maybe it had to do with their own insecurities. Maybe they had to dig deeper in their heart and realize that they didn't need to be embarrassed of a disabled child or a child that was different.

Many of their thoughts, feelings and concerns could be dealt with by us giving them more information- about the child, the disability, how we planned to handle the new situation/ family dynamics. They where not all upset at the same time they each voiced their concerns throughout different adoptions.

Both Hubby and I felt good about our adoptions so that the conversations in general went well.
We did not intend to change our minds about adopting, that was not an option that we even considered.

If you are not 100% sure of what you want you may find your conversations go differently than ours did. That's okay.
You may have to work through some of your own feelings about adopting before dealing with your older children's thoughts and feeling.
It is much easier to help your older children when you are peaceful about you decision.

As parents we have made most of the decisions for our family however our children have always had a voice and have influenced what we decide. We all share a mutual respect. They also have a fair amount of freedom as long as they are staying within the family guidelines/ rules. We feel this gives them the opportunity to learn from their own decisions- sometimes they are happy with what they chose and sometimes it doesn't work out as they had hoped- any way you look at it they own it and can learn from their experiences.

They did not own this one... we did! It was ultimately our decision. Yes we'd gather the input that we had heard but we would do all the deciding.
When we decide something we turn to God, at least we try to... 
Yes, we make mistakes and venture out on our own without our Fathers guidance but thankfully we have not made that mistake when it comes to adoption.
In our hearts- adopting our children was right and good and what HE and we wanted!

We let our kids work through their anger, frustration and lack of control over this- they new we were going to move forward either way.
We prayed for our children and for their many feelings.

Little by little, one by one they warmed up. They became peaceful with the idea that more children would be joining our family. The began to trust in our capabilities to parent many children. They trusted that we would still love and value each of them and be considerate of their lives.

They saw that they were able to pursue their dreams and that their parents should also be able to pursue dreams- not matter how old we were! 

I think they actually began to admire that we were doing something different and stepping out in faith.
It gave them freedom to do the same IF they should want to! Freedom to trust God and maybe try something they wouldn't have tried otherwise.

Yes- because of our size there are things we cannot do anymore. We have self imposed limitations but we sure have a lot of fun! We always arm ourselves with a sense of humor!

Our older children love the younger children and vice versa!!
The big kids love to come home and yell out- HELLO, as they walk in the door!
-only to here little voices calling back-
Billy, hello
Marky, your home!
Hi Johnny!
Yay Katie, is Penny with you!?!
Hooray, Matt and Caitlin are home!!

The benefits of adopting have far out weighed any negatives! Our older children have learned to extend themselves beyond their own desires and not be afraid of the unknown. They have learned that it is okay to open your home to a child that needs a home. To give of themselves- their time, their love, their words of wisdom. To accept that everyone is different and different is okay. To stick together and protect those that cannot protect themselves. 

They see so much joy in the laughter of their little siblings!

I hope this helps someone.
 If you have questions ask them in the comments!


"Are These Kids All Yours?" said...

Love this post!!!!

I will probably make a link to it this week...if my brain can remember- because I LOVE YOUR ANSWERS!!!! And I have people ask me this, but since we don't really have "older kids"?

SOOO DOING A DANCE OF JOY over your last post!!!!!!!!!

Jane Ellen said...

This is something we're in the midst of right now. How timely it was for me to read this. Thank you.

Cari said...

beautifully written and very informative, thank you Jean!

Janet and Kevin said...

That was beautifully said! :)

Janet and gang

Jennifer P said...

We, too, are dealing with this right now. Thank you for the honest answers that point to Christ and decision making that honors Him.

Sally-Girl! said...

OH the conversations that you and I have shared over this topic. Glad to see it out on your blog. Our hearts beat so much alike with our similar families!!!

Lori at JOY Unspeakable said...

REALLY great post, Jean!!

Shonni said...

You wrote this so well Jean!!! Can I link to you from my blog?
We have walked through this with our oldest son and have always wanted to validate and respect how he felt about new siblings. So, thank you for writing about this subject.

Mom to my China Posse said...

Jean, with us havign grown kids as well this post hit home because our older kids have shared similair reactions and question why we feel called to adopt. Don't get me wrong once the child is home they fall in love quickly with them but its been a struggle at times. Like you we want their input but it always comes down to what we feeled called to do. I often remind them they are grown and not living at home and while we love to hear their thoughts and we do listen and hear them addign to our family is the parents decision.
Thats why the new Hague rule about talkign to the older children not living in the home makes me wonder what if the older chidl says Hey i don't approve, what would happen. My kids wouldn't d that but who knows if others would. Does the homestudy agent stop the adoption, include in in the homestudy or not respond at all?

Sammy said...

One thing I've found is I'll think one will be jealous, but it'll be another one and the one I thought would be is not. Then, the next adoption it might change. Some of the things you mentioned are things even the parents have to work though--like not caring what other people think. In the end, my husband and I make the call. I know that our adoptions have made my other kids better people.

Sharon said...

Jean - thank you for sharing your Godly wisdom with us. You are a family I greatly admire.

J said...

We joke with our eldest (23yo bio who has 12 adopted sibs now) that we have another "inheritance dilution" in the works!! But yes we do the same thing with all our older kids (private feelings talk)(over age 8 or so) for every additon and then at a family meeting with the little ones also
so they can all share in the joy and hope of a new sibling. We always put on a positive spin.
Every child is made by God and God wants every child to be loved and know Him.
We've stopped informing some of our extended family until after the arrival. They just don't get it. Is it fear?? selfishness?

Karin said...

I am SO GLAD you shared this! I have wondered how your older kids were feeling about the younger kids coming into the family. Our older kids have made similar comments over the years and I really love how you handled it. Thank you so much for sharing how you handled it. God gave you much wisdom. :)

Karen said...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your thoughts on this subject. We too have older bio kids and then there's the "next batch"!! And we've dealt with many of the same feelings, remarks, & concerns from our big kids. They were even concerned we wouldn't have time for our grandkids if we kept adopting!!! lol (There's always time for the grandkids!!) May I ask? Where in Minnesota are you? We are east of you in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Just wondering how far away you are!
Karen H.