I am brand new to the adoption game. I have always wanted children but my husband and I are unable to have them naturally. I have been toying with the idea of adopting a sibling group. For those of you that have gone forward with sibling group adoptions, what have been your rationales? I understand that there are pros and cons to any adoption. I would assume that having a sibling group would allow the children to feel more secure initially. And, I have always wanted more than one child. I am one of three children in my family and have really appreciated having my siblings. However, the option of adopting a single child and than another child later on down the road could also create that family.
Thanks
There is a great need for families willing to adopt sibling groups, which most agencies define as groups of three or more, often with at least one child who is of school age or who has special needs. Many families are unwilling to deal with the major challenges of becoming an "instant family" of three or more children, and they often languish in foster care domestically or in orphanages or foster care internationally. Infant, toddler, or preschooler twins or two siblings below school age, especially relatively healthy ones, are NOT considered hard to place, and are usually not photolisted. In fact, many agencies have waiting lists of families who want relatively healthy twins.
With domestic adoption, recognize that sibling groups are usually placed through the foster care system. Domestic adoption agencies, unless they help to place children in the foster care system on behalf of the state, specialize in newborn adoptions, which rarely involve triplets or other multiples. Occasionally, they might place children of dissolved adoptions. Some sibling groups may be available through international adoption; go to the U.S. State Department website at adoption.state.gov for information on the countries that place sibling groups and on the need to use a Hague-accredited agency.
Frankly, though, since you are brand new to adoption and have never parented, I would recommend starting out with a single child. Going from childless to having a child is not easy, even when you adopt a healthy newborn or infant. Going from childless to being a family of three or more children adopted at the same time, especially when these children may have had negative life experiences or may have special needs, known or previously unknown, is immensely challenging.
For one thing, in many cases, the older children in sibling groups have often cared for their younger siblings, because their biological parents or foster caregivers did not provide adequate care. It can be difficult for the older children to give up their roles and to look to you to be the caregiver, and it can also be difficult for the younger children to turn to someone other than their siblings. As developing attachment means helping children view their parents as people who will always "be there" for them, whether they are toddlers who have fallen down or older children who have been teased at school, it often takes a very great effort to refocus sibling groups and build their trust.
On the other hand, it sometimes happens that the the children don't relate well at all to each other. Perhaps they were in different foster homes and didn't grow up together. Perhaps one of the children is something of a bully, who learned through his/her life experiences, that making threats and hitting will get him/her what he needs. Perhaps you will even discover that one of the children was sexually abused -- and yes, even very young children may be sexually abused -- and has started trying to molest his/her siblings. In more mild cases, there may be a good deal of sibling rivalry, with the children competing for your time and attention and resenting it when you do something for one and not for the others.
While a single child who has spoken a different language at home usually picks up English fairly quickly, a non-English speaking sibling group may actually resist learning English by speaking mainly to each other. Again, it takes a lot more time and energy for parents to get such children to start speaking their language, which will be necessary, not just for building attachment, but for ensuring their success in school.
Each child in a sibling group will have different needs for medical care, for counseling, for schooling, for activities, and so on. Especially early on, you may find yourself very stressed, both financially and in other ways, when you seem to be making endless trips to the doctor and dentist, need to find a therapist for one child who has a lot of anxiety, start searching for private schools for another child with some learning issues that won't be addressed well in the local public school, start interviewing day care or after school care programs so you and your spouse can work to earn money, are ferrying one child to soccer practice while another to gymnastics, etc. And you may be doing all these things on very little sleep, because one of the kids has nightmares frequently and another wets the bed.
And, speaking of working to earn money, raising ONE child is expensive; I know because I adopted my daughter as a single parent, when she was 18 months old, and she is now 21. Raising three children, and especially children who may have had a very rough start in life, will require some very careful budgeting. Before you even think about adopting a sibling group, talk to a financial planner, to see if you really will be able to cope with all the expenses, in a worst case scenario. And remember, if both of you work full-time now, in order to pay your bills, you may find that your children's needs absolutely require one parent to stay at home. And even if you both can work, day care/nanny/babysitter and after school care costs can be extremely high.
Remember that many adopted children have experienced food insecurity. Some may be underweight and may start eating everything in sight for the first six months, to catch up. Some may hoard food, fearing that there won't be enough at some point, and you may find lots of spoiled or dried out "stuff" under their beds. Some may be overweight because of a diet of fast food, and may need to be reoriented in his/her food choices. Some may have food allergies. In any case, your food bills may wind up being astronomical, if you have three children.
Also remember that three children will "cramp your style" more than one child will. If the children you adopt are young, you will need a car that can accommodate three car seats or boosters in the back and, later, some of their friends, sports equipment, etc. Many husbands who swore that they'd NEVER drive a minivan find themselves shopping for one. If your children haven't learned much about appropriate behavior, you are NOT going to want to take three young hooligans to a restaurant until they have had some time to learn your new rules. If you practice a religion, you may find that one of you has to stay home if one or more of the children can't behave there, even in the child care room that is provided. And supervising three children in the shopping mall or the grocery store can be quite a challenge; you may find yourself ordering from Peapod (home delivered groceries from a supermarket chain) and buying almost everything you need on line.
On the other hand, if you feel that, realistically, you can cope with the challenges of managing three children, your application to adopt a sibling group will be met with great joy. Just remember that it's a whole lot better, if you find that you simply aren't equipped to parent three, that you make this decision early on, before you meet with any children, than to have to disrupt or dissolve a placement.
Sharon