Hi Everyone,
We had originally thought we wanted to adopt an infant, but are now leaning towards adopting a toddler, around 2 - 2 1/2 years old.
Can you tell me what challenges we'd face adopting a toddler vs an infant? If you've decided to do the same, I would appreciate hearing your story as well. I'm trying to figure out the pros and cons of each.
Thanks so much,
We brought our daughter home on January 10, and she turned 2 on January 24, so she is defintely a toddler!
We initially thought we would get the referral of an infant, but when we rec'd her referral we just could not pass it up. Yes, there have been some days that are harder than others, but I would not trade having a toddler for anything. As for the language issue...there has been NO issue. We are going to keep her bilingual, but she has had no issues with English at all. She is learning it very quickly and understands everything we say to her.
There have been no attachment issues, either. I was only home 3 weeks with her and DH had 1 day off after we got back from GC, and she knows we are Mama and Daddy and prefers our company, love and nurturing over anyone else. And that is all we could ask for.
So, don't be afraid to adopt a toddler. We had all the usual fears, and there has been nothing that we could not handle. If we could do it over again, we wouldn't want it any other way.
Also, the suggestion to read "Toddler Adoption: The Weaver's Craft" was a good one but keep an open mind. We read it and found it to be "worst possible scenario" stuff, and have had no experiences with any of the tough stuff. I also read "What Size Shoes Does She Wear, A Guide to Toddler Adoption" and found it to be very good and much more positive as far as worst case scenarios.
Good luck with your decision and you can PM me if you need more information...
:) Kathleen
For what it is worth, we adopted an infant and a toddler at the same time. Our baby was four months old when she came home and our toddler was 18 months old. Right away, our toddler had attachment issues. It took her several months before she would go to other people, but we worked on building trust and teaching her that Mommy and Daddy weren't going there. Every day, we saw her slowly come out of her shell. As far as talking, she rarely said a word other than Mama until she was about 26 months old. From that time on, she has talked non-stop. She will be 3 in April and we are told her vocabulary and grammar are at the level of 1st to 2nd grade. She speaks in English and Spanish and can even do multiplication. Given her first exposure to English was just over a year ago, we are amazed. As far as her attachment issues... she is still a very sensitive child. She is very dramatic, but also very sweet and nurturing. She loves to show off, but she also gets her feelings hurt easily. While we could associate that with her early childhood issues, we also realize it could just be her personality. We have found her transition no less stressful nor demanding than that of our baby. Both are thriving and doing great. Best wishes in your journey!
My daughter was not technically considered a toddler..but boy did she have alot of the same behaviours and in the book Toddler Adoption-The Weavers Mary took about 6 months for her to feel comfortable enough, to relax..she came home a 9.5 months old..and I had been to Guat 3x and then fostered her for 1 month at the end..and even with that she didn't want to be put down to 6 I just carried her alot in the sling..she had alot of sleep problems as well..but..some folks adopt toddlers and they sleep right from the you never know..alot is individual temperment, how the foster family prepares them (shows them photo's of you, calls you Mama and Papa etc..) if you visit or not etc..
I personally think adopting an infant can be easier, esp if they are 6 months old or less..separation anxiety peaks for the first time at 9 months then again at 15 months old..our daughter was "peaking" right at the time I was taking her away from the foster mother..
Toddlerhood is such a cute, though demanding age..
I would say just be prepared for the worst (sleepless nights, wanting a bottle again, needing a diaper again after they were already potty trained) but most of the time I see here on the forums it works out really well..
Its important to really practice attachment parenting techniques as well...carry them as much as possible, cosleep, cobath etc..good luck with your decision..
I am adopting a 2 1/2 year old. She is not home yet, but I did go on a visit already. It went unbelievably well. I know some BASIC Spanish and with pointing etc. we had no language barriers.
I also second Toddler Adoption the Weaver's Craft.....
We're also adopting a toddler. She's about 28 months right now. And I also read Weaver's Craft. Great book! I know several folks who have adopted toddlers. Some have had more problems than others. What they all say is they would not have traded it for anything. I also know some folks who have adopted infants and then had problems later when the children were 3 or 4. I think a lot depends on the child and the adoptive parents. No matter what you decision - best of luck! LSMOM
Our son was 31 months old when he came home. We specifically entered the process wanting a 2 to 4 year old. English was his third language and I agree with the poster who said that the language barrier could be the most frustrating. (it was for all of us). However, at such a young age, children adapt very quickly and within six months we were able to communicate reasonably well. Three years later his language skills are 100% age-appropriate.
We had virtually no attachment issues (I can think of precisely One circumstance), and within six months it was as if we'd been a part of each other's lives forever. He bonded extremely well to our older son and they are extremely close.
On the plus side...even with the language barrier it was far easier to know what he wanted than trying to figure out why an infant is crying (which was without a doubt the most stressful part of parenting an infant for me)--he was semi-independant and able to amuse himself more readily (of course, he amused himself by turning off the furnace. In January. In Minnesota....). He also slept through the night (again, something that didn't happen for Three Years with our older son).
Personally, I am a huge advocate of toddler adoption.
We didn't intend to adopt a toddler, but our adoption was complicated. Our infant referral was almost two years old when we brought her home. I had read the books on attachment with toddlers and tried to be as prepared as possible for the "worst-case scenario". However, our little girl settled in with very few problems. She's been home a year, is attached well, chatters away in English and is generally delightful.
Our biggest challenge was with our other children. The two closest in age to her had some difficulty adjusting initially. A baby taking some of Mommy's attention is one thing...but a little one who can take toys, talk and assert herself was a little much for them! After a few drama-filled weeks, everything settled down though.
I know every situation is different, but our's made me a supporter of toddler adoption.
Good luck with your decision,
We wanted a girl between 3 & 5. We got Iris's referral at
2 she came home in June of 05 at 2 1/2. We had sent her a picture book in March with all of Us, the house and Cats, we put Spanish captions on everythng. I took a pic of our son holding a teddy bear then sent that with the book.
when she came home she knew exactly who we were. She bonded with us right from the start. I give a lot of credit to the foster mom she really prepared her. I did also read the weavers craft.
We brought our son home at age 3. He warmed up to us right away but we still practiced some of the attachment suggestions in Toddler Adoption: Weaver's Craft
All kids are different so some make the transition very smoothly and some have attachment issues. My ds was in an orphanage so he didn't have the consistent care that a toddler would have in a hogar or say with a foster family.
He was usually a happy boy but when he got upset, he would cry unconsolably for a long time. Kind of a self soothing moan. I rocked him and gave him a sippy cup as a bottle and spoke soothingly to him. Today at 9 he still needs me to hold him and sooth him when he is upset.
I've adopted a 4 mo. old, a 3 yr. old, and am now adopting a 9 yr. old. I would recommend adopting at any age!!!
I would DEFINITELY read "Toddler Adoption: The Weaver's Craft" if you are trying to decide this interesting issue. It may be the best book on adoption anywhere, at any price!
I'd like to second (or third ;) ) the recommendation for this book. we ultimately decided that our lifestyle as it was wasn't conducive to adopting a toddler with possible attachment issues-dh traveled and I traveled, sometimes for 2 months or so. that has since changed (i'm now staying home), so we're considering toddler adoption down the road :) . not every toddler has attachment issues, it is important to consider all the possibilities.
I agree with punkyboo-
we brought our son home just after he turned 2. Language was not a problem- he spoke very little spanish, and picked up english very quickly. ( we would like him to know both languages).
He had no attachment issues, and called us mommy and daddy in the first week home.He has adjusted beautifully.
He is however, a typical toddler, and throws the occasional tantrum! Just normal stuff for a toddler!!
what if you put in your dossier 0-30 months at referral?
then just let what happens "happen"?
just an idea.
who originally had a dossier different country for an infant.
switch to Guatemala for referral of Dairin a toddler, whom we lost,
updated dossier was made for 0-30 (or so) months at referral.
was given referral of newborn little girl...home at 4.5 months.
see...what happens...happens! leaving yourself open is kind of nice.
here is our little sweetie!
We adopted a 3 1/2 year old a little more than a month ago and I agree that you should read the "Weavers Craft - Toddler Adoption". It is very informative and pretty accurate. We have a son that is 8 years old so we did not want to adopt an infant (as the age difference would be too great). There are definitely benefits to both ages - baby and toddler. A toddler is a huge challenge, but if you have your heart set on a toddler it can be very rewarding. Our son has been a challenge, but after only a month he has truly become a member of our family. He plays with his brother and for us it was the right choice. The biggest challenges we have faced is the language barrier and the fact that he was rarely if ever disciplined. It has taken a lot of dedication, patience and energy to help him understand that we do have rules and that some behavior is not acceptable. Also, if you do not speak any spanish a toddler is tough. They say that you can communicate with gestures and that it is best to speak only english first so they learn english, but I found this almost impossible the first 2-3 weeks. I speak spanish and my sister is fluent which has helped immensely. Also, there is a free translation online that can help you too. Good luck!
I would say go with what your heart says you can handle and are open to. We adopted a US newborn 15yrs ago, when our three bios were 3, 5, and 7. She was a busy toddler and child! When we felt we were ready for another adoption, she was 7. We said we were open to a child 2-5yrs, because we were past the age we thought it would be fair to bring home another infant and also didn't want too many years between. Our son came home at the age of 4yrs. No attachment issues, was speaking only English after two months, and is a terric 11yr old now. Our second son also came home at the age of 4yr, though both boys' referrals were as 2 1/2yr olds. Again, no attachment issues and he was speaking only English after 6mo. We never felt language issues were that difficult. In fact, we have great memories of some very comical conversations. We brought our new daughter home from Guatemala one yr ago at the age of ten. She also learned English in a few short months, though at her age, social language and language needed for academics is very different. I realize you aren't considering such an older child, but I share this to express my belief that kids can adapt well at any age, if they've had consistent love and care, as ours did in the same small, private orphanage in Guatemala...and if they come to a home where they are respected for their personalities, but challenged to be their best. From my vantage point, dealing with more complicated issues with a 10yr old girl, toddler adoption doesn't seem to hold many difficult concerns. I'm not trying to make light of things which will be frustrating and challenging. Toddlers will bring those moments into our lives. My advice is just to be certain you understand possible concerns, prepare yourself for those possibilities, but don't go into things expecting the worst. To be honest, I did little reading about attachment, but listened to our agency's advice on how to transition our child. We were blessed in that our kids didn't come with difficult issues...only typical childhood issues. As you can read on these forums, many of us have had very successful toddler/older child adoptions. I am always thrilled to hear of older kids finding families!
I posted before-
My husband & I are also thinking of adopting a toddler.
Everyone tells us "Why go outside the US- we have toddlers in need of adoption here"
Where are they?
I have NO problem adopting in the us or outside of the us- my point is to adopt a child that wants a family, as badly as we want to adopt them.
Toddlers are awesome- we have a 2 1/2 year old- and are trying to adopt again, close to her age. Sure, they have issues- whether they were adopted at newborn or toddler age- toddler age has issues period. But, it's worth it :-)