Monday, June 25, 2012

Dual Adoption

You will not find any scientific data or studies in this post.
It is purely my opinion based from our experience.

Which after doing 3 dual adoptions we definitely have experience!
And now we are doing it again!
Yay God!

Our first dual adoption were bio sibs- so I'm not sure if that officially counts as dual BUT there were two kids coming home!

Many families feel so comfortable bringing home one child. 
That is wonderful!
And that is right for them.
I would never want to say otherwise.

We just need to all work together to get families for the orphans!
whether it is one at time, two at a time or sibling groups!

for us, 
bringing home two at a time has been awesome!

We were so excited about bringing home sisters and thought is was such a perfect situation.
We are thankful the girls were not split up but at the same time it brought challenges that surprised us.
Emma and Ellie had their "roles", their expectations of each other and their baggage.  Instead of starting fresh and being able to redefine themselves in their new family they came with preconceived ideas of each other.
Their own little hierarchy.

Emma gave Ellie her food whenever Ellie wanted it, even though Emma was starving and Ellie was plump.
Emma protected her sister but Ellie did not protect Emma.
Emma was a lower class citizen, she was not just an orphan she was a mentally retarded orphan and she had no worth. The sad thing is even her sister who loved her more than anyone else also saw her this way.
Ellie was also cognitively disabled, speech disabled and most likely suffered at the hands of others also.
But in her life their was one person lower than her,
her sister Emma.

When we met them we were shocked. I expected to see two girls close together, talking between themselves and sticking together through thick and thin.

Instead we saw them practically run over each other trying to be the first to get love, acceptance and attention. It was heart breaking. 
Ellie wanted to be labeled the good child therefor Emma was expected to have the label of the bad child.
During much of our time in China they strived to fulfill their self given roles.
It was a very challenging time.
Because of their speech and cognitive disabilities they did not converse between each other at all.

Once we got home we had to undo all of this in order to redo healthy, happy, valued and equal roles within the new family.

There was no loyalty, no camaraderie, no consideration for the other- it was every man for himself.

Since that is not the way our large family works we needed to show them that we can love and accept both of them not one or the other. 

Once home Ellie was surprised to see that we were kind, loving and positive towards Emma. Ellie didn't know what to do about it and I think she was a bit threatened.
The girls would have fights in the closet. Ellie would be hitting Emma and Emma would be struggling verbally to defend herself.
If Ellie was having a bad day she would secretly take it out on Emma.

Ellie was NOT a bad kid. She just didn't know how to cope with the changing roles and dynamics around her.
(the girls don't fight like this now)
At the same time Ellie saw that she could trust us because we were nice to the one person that no one else has ever been nice too- Emma.
Quickly they could see that this was a good place to be.

So here were two children that knew each other and we being adopted together. It worked but it was challenging. 
They did have an underlying love for each other, a familiarity with each other- a comfort level because they were bio sibs.

We have never adopted 2 children from the same orphanage that already knew each other but were NOT related. I have heard of others that have and they have had their challenges.
In that situation the two children would not have a previous love towards each other. They would enter a family knowing of each other but never considering each other as family.
In one case a family brought home the bully and the victim. They had no way of knowing the orphanage dynamics before bringing the children home.
Is this bad?
No, but it makes for greater challenges.
I believe that anything can be overcome through prayer, love, hard work and more prayer.

Here is my thoughts on adopting two children from the same orphanage-

If the children are in the same orphanage and not sibs they do not have an underlying love for one another.
They have never loved this person before and now they are expected to love them?

They have a hierarchy where one is higher than the other. They live in a world of survival not love. These roles are with them and if they bring part of their past with them they do not leave other parts easily.They will take this to their new family and they will expect it to be this way in their new family.

Of course I think they can relearn new behavior and new family rules just like our children have, but it is challenging and takes time.

Some families are blessed to adopt friends or children that had a special loving relationship within the orphanage or foster home!
I would love to hear others who have had this experience!

Now onto adopting two children from different orphans-

We are amazed each time... that would be twice.
We will let you know if we are amazed again because our two children coming home this time are also from different orphanages.

The positives-
They come to us without preconceived notions regarding the other child. (Such as they are stupid, the stink due to incontinence, they can't- walk-club foot, they were in the bad room of the orphanage, nobody like them, etc)
They come to us without their spot in the hierarchy of the orphanage. They are not the lowest or the highest still trying to fulfill their old role.
They come wanting to be loved and to be part of a family without needing to step on someone else to get there. 
It's the fresh start the deserve!

They know that the other child is just as scared as they are but they also know they are not alone in this journey. There is another child with them that speaks their language and looks more like them than their new parents.

The language of play and laughter help them to adjust.
We play and laugh with them BUT we are not 5 or 7 or 11 years old so they immediately start to form a bond with the new sib.
This journey is so so scary- everything is changing in their lives and they are not the only one going through it- their new sib is too. 
This other person speaks the same language as they do- unlike their new parents. It's an instant bond.

And yes, they begin to bond to their new sib before bonding to us. 
But their new sib does not have the food, the money, the clothes, they do not protect them or provide for them like their new parent does, so they begin to bond to us too.
We always make sure that all food, gifts and clothes come from either Mom or Dad. 
All child cares are done by us for bonding until they can or want to do them themselves.

They see the other child accepting us so they do too. If at first one child pulls away and doesn't want to be close to us the other one sees the opportunity for love and acceptance so they seize the moment of opportuntiy. The next one comes around soon after!

There is less time for them to be frightened and to dwell on their fears and their preferences. Instead they are experiencing their new life with less fear and apprehension.

Old stereotypes are no longer with them. It no longer matters who or who did not like them in the orphanage. They start to get positive feedback, they like it and they want more!

Do they bicker - yes they do. In fact they will give it to one another in Chinese- it's pretty funny!
Do they compete - yes they do, a little but we watch it closely. I also don't mind if they compete a little to be "good"or to obey.
Are they jealous of each other? I have seen moments of this (the evil eye being given) but they seem to get over it quickly.

The negatives of dual adoption-

It is more expensive. Two orphanage fees, two agency adoption fees and extra plane ticket home, etc
It's an inconvenience- more suitcases, more backpacks, more prep at home, etc
It's emotionally draining (as all adoptions are whether it goes smoothly or their are bumps in the road) but now their are two children's needs that have to be fulfilled.
Your stay in China will be longer. You may have to go to 2 different provinces to meet your children before going on to GZ. You are away from your family at home for a longer period of time.

My own biased is this...

Why can't we help one more child
and then one more turns into
one more and so on!

We feel called by God to bring the children home and will do so until we hear or see God redirect us differently. Until He says we are done, until doors close and He shows us another way to serve HIM.

Does it matter of there are 3 or 4 children in the bedroom?
Does it matter if we have to squish together at the kitchen counter just a little bit more, or share bikes, or share clothes, or take turns with toys, so one more child can have a family?

God is not asking much from us. He is just asking that we care for his children. We can do that!

Bringing home two just feels so right, so natural to us!

It doesn't mean others have too. It just works for us.

Blessings on your journey whether it is for one, for two or for more!

Praise God!!

(Pics are from the children playing outside after a rain and Sarah going to horse day camp!)


Vicky said...

I adopted two girls, ages 11 and 12 from different orphanages and I say, amen to all that you have shared. These two have bonded beautifully!

They have had each other and share a common bond that now makes them "sisters" forever!

I love my girls and thank God that he allowed me to bring two home at the same time. Truly this is a miracle because I am single and old! GOD made a way when it didn't look possible!

Rebecca said...

Thanks Jean! Matt and I have decided to proceed with a second adoption. We will be getting her at the asme time as Ashlyn. Different ages (4 & 13), different provinces. You have been a source of inspiration and encouragement to me as we have travelled this road. To know that there are so many BTDT families out there is a huge relief!

Eileen said...

That's a fantastic post. Do you mind if I share it? You brought up several points that I'd never thought about.

You talked about the bio sisters, but I'd be curious to know if the other ones who came home together kept a close relationship after they joined the rest of the family? I also wondered if each time you adopted two who were close in age and if they always spoke they same dialect or if they had trouble understanding each other?

Have they been able to keep their Mandarin since they had someone else to speak it with?

Thanks for the great information!

Janet said...

Great post Jean. For us, adopting 2 at once was a no brainer. Whereas you mentioned more expensive, more planning, etc. I looked at as, if I am going thru all of this again, why not get 2. That way, I do not have to paperchase again, and adding 1 orphanage fee and plane ticket, is sure less expensive that doing it all over again. I wish it had been allowed for us from the begiinning. I am so glad CCAA is allowing it now!

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

Thank you for sharing!!! We have only had 2 come to us at once- our Joshua and Sarah...sibs. I would love to have sibs one day? We will see??? Whoever God gives us. Right now the special needs adoptions are where we are at.....maybe God will bring us twins? OOOOOOOooooothat would be fun!!!!!

Stinks we can't go back and do another international adoption :( BUT it is ok since we have been given children here to adopt too :)

Jolene said...

Wonderful post and thank you! We're so praying to travel in July and will be there 3 weeks (2 different provinces) bringing home two children and I appreciated this post!

Anonymous said...

hey jean! you know my 2 newest girls were BEST friends in the orphanage, both have the same blood disorder requiring bi weekly blood transfusions. We feel so blessed. They need each other and loved each other. Tomorrow we head in for another blood transfusion and one said, "i'm so happy we can always go together." We had a wonderful experience. I think adopting older, like 3+ is a great time to bring two home, and we are glad we did!
hope sarah liked camp! Ellie is cutie! i hardly remember her chubby days. i have one who won't stop eating. I'd love to hear a post how you handle requests for more food from someone who is clearly not hungry...thanks for posting!

Sue said...

Very good post, as I also brought home two little ones back when you weren't allow too unless bio sibs. Now almost 6 years later, I still laugh about them being "twins" when one is 6 inches taller then the other.

Ann said...

Jean, this is a great post. We didn't adopt 2 at once (wanted to but it didn't happen), but we did adopt 2 within one year and they are BEST FRIENDS--it truly amazes me--and reading your post puts many of the pieces together.

Thanks for taking the time to share. I have been following your blog for several years so it has been fun to watch it grow and change!


Serving the King said...

You go mama! GREAT post! We adopted two from the same orphanage who we thought were friends, but were actually just acquaintances. The hierarchy we have had to fight through, the history between them that we weren't a part of, I could go on and on and...well...on. But alas I wish I had been informed on the dynamic between kids that previously knew each other and to be ready for that...cuz I...well...wasn't. We adopted them together before you were allowed to adopt two at once{we were given a waiver} so there wasn't a lot of chatter about such things. We are on the other side of it now, praise the Lord, but gracious it made for a rough first few months. Keep it up girl! You amaze me!

Jo's Corner said...

You know what I was most struck by in this post? It was the Joy and Happiness and Healthy looking children! Every one of them is beautiful! Each is Precious! I am just happy that He called you to adopt each one and that You & Hubby were Obedient to that Calling. We are ALL called to care for Orphans and Widows and it's just delightful and touching to watch each child blossom and thrive in the care you give them.
I love you, Jean! Thank You, for sharing with those of us who make a commitment to care for orphans.
P.S. Any chance you could bring 3 this time? One for me? ; )

~ JO

Sammie said...

I just logged into your blog and I use your list of "blogs that you enjoy" to get to many of the other blogs I follow. It means I have less things bookmarked and its an easy and quick way to get to the blogs. Today its not there Acckkk my morning routing has been thrown off, I love your blog, but also love the list of other blogs. Where did it go?

mbcfree said...

Thanks for the wonderful post. After two single adoptions we are going after our first dual adoption. A boy and girl ages 2 and 3. Our agency says they are not biological but they were abandoned together and are both HIV so I might have them tested when they get home. We are so excited to do two at once but also scared. I've been trying to convince my sis that she needs a lovely vacation to China! We are going to need help!

kimjax said...

I agree completely, Jean! Wonderful post! :)

Sammy said...

The same time you were there getting Ellie and Emma we adopted two from the same orphanage, but different foster homes. They were brought back to the orphanage 21 days before we got there and told they would be sister (10) and brother (7) but they totally bonded before we got there. It was the sweetest thing ever! They looked out for one another. They even watched to see if I was treating the other OK. This went on for a few months after we got home. I think the real story is that you, Jean, stuck it out and worked through it all!! You didn't give up. You held them accountable, but yet you understood.

Laurel said...

Great post!

We brought home 3 older siblings (ages 6, 9, 12 when they came home). They were 1/2 siblings, though, and there was NOT the "sibling love" between them. Come to find out, the 2 sisters didn't even know each other until the orphanage (a year earlier) as they had been raised in different cities. And ... the older brother had abused the youngest sister for years. Needless to say, it was not at all what we expected a "sibling adoption" would be. So sad. So hard.

You are doing a mighty work for the Lord. Sadly, our youngest daughter has such severe RAD issues due to trauma, we can't imagine ever adopting another child. Our older kids are moving out and moving on ... we have so much room and so much love to give ... but for us "love and prayer" have not healed all of the wounds for our children.