Have any of you adopted your second child after giving birth to your first?

Offbeat Home & Life runs these advice questions as an opportunity for our readers to share personal experiences and anecdotes. Readers are responsible for doing their own research before following any advice given here... or anywhere else on the web, for that matter.
Two Kids, boy and girl (Trysta), Watch the Parade, Covering Ears from Noise from a Band
Photo by Mike Baird.
My husband and I are parents to a wonderful baby girl, and we absolutely love parenthood. We're thinking about having a second child, but we're interested in going a different route. I had an excellent pregnancy and birth, and while part of me would like to experience it again (knowing that a second pregnancy could be very different), I'm also pulled to adopt a baby that needs a home.

My husband is on board with trying to have a biological child or adopting, so right now I'm just hoping to get a little insight into the lives of families who have done something similar.

Have any of you had experience adopting your second child after giving birth to your first? — HollyG

  1. I haven't procreated at all, but birthing then adopting has been my parenthood plan for years now– I'm excited to see what responses you get!

    1 agrees
    • My husband and I have the same plan, and am very eager to see the responses. There are so many things to consider…. I'd love to hear about those who have adopted a different race/ethnicity than thier biokids, or adopted an older child and disrupted the "birth order.". Goodluck!

      5 agree
      • My high school best friend was adopted before her parents had two biological children. As far as I could tell, they were any other normal family. When she reached about 15, she had some growing identity pangs (I guess you could call it) so she expressed interest in meeting her biological mother. She did, and they met and have maintained a relationship…but it also cemented for my friend the understand that her biological mother really couldn't provide a good home, and that her adopted family was her "true" family.

        1 agrees
      • We are planning to adopt the next ones, too. This question is all kinds of interesting.
        Ours follows a difficult pregnancy and birth, and a hard recovery, though. I guess we are kind of the "usual" case for adopting after birthing. We've always wanted to adopt, though. Our family just won't feel right without it. My mom was adopted, and it gave her a life she could succeed in.

        1 agrees
    • Yes! Our Plan A is to birth one then adopt one. Obviously plans change but these comments will hopefully be fantastically insightful!

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  2. We're hoping to adopt a second child (our biological son is 19 months) when I'm finished school a few years from now. My husband already had a vasectomy because I knew my memory of pregnancy would become less horrified and sick and more sunshine and rainbows as time passed. My hope is for a three or four year old – we'll see. I'm definitely interested in others experiences with this too!

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    • I love that you are open to adopting a child older than a year. So many people that I have encountered that want to adopt are adamant about getting a fresh from the uterus baby so that it can be "theirs" There are so very many children out there in need of stability and love. πŸ˜€

      1 agrees
      • Agree. There are so many older kids (pre-teens and teens) that are never going to find a forever home because they're "too old". Many of these kids have mental or behavioral issues, which is part of the reason they remain unadopted…and why they need a home all the more.

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      • People start families in whichever way seems fit for them. While there is definitely a need to adopt waiting children/older children, I think that wanting to experience all the facets of parenting from birth on are valid and understandable. I cannot have biological children and have always dreamed of being a mama. For me, part of that journey includes the desire to wake up in the middle of the night to change diapers, hearing my baby's first word, and watching he or she's first smile.

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        • There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to parent a child from birth. It's frustrating that people who can have bio babies are encouraged to do so, and people who can't are often actively encouraged *not* to, i.e., to adopt older children instead. That said, in the original post, the author writes: "I'm also pulled to adopt a baby that needs a home," and it's not really true that there is a shortage of parents interested in adopting babies — people who would like to do so can expect to "compete" with others who share the same desire.

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  3. We had a two year old son when my husband and I decided that we wanted to adopt. We wanted to have another child in our family and thought of all the kids that needed families that were already here! About a year later, we got to go pick up our new baby boy! It is the most amazing feeling to be an adoptive parent. We are so blessed to be able to experience both ways of building a family. One that looks like us and one that looks opposite! It is so much fun! We cannot imagine life without them! Good luck to you and your family on your journey!! I am so excited for you!

    1 agrees
  4. Yes, our family made this choice. Our situation is a litlle, ahem, offbeat, as my biological son has asperger's syndrome and daughter, who was adopted, has an attachment disorder (this is what my blog is about) so I have my hands full. But I will tell you, I wouldn't have done it any other way. It has been a wonderful experience!!! There are a LOT of reasons for doing it this way, if you are thinking about it…Good luck – and feel free to write me…

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  5. I have a bio 16 year old, am adopted 8 year old and a bio 2 year old. I recently blogged about my feelings regarding my adopted kiddo….but our exoerience is different. I believe she has an undiagnosed attachment disorder and that makes my relationship with her different. But I fullt believe in building a family, regardless of HOW. I believe we fond the children we are meant to have, whether through birth, adoption or life paths.

  6. I have a bio 16 year old, an adopted 8 year old and a bio 2 year old. I recently blogged about my feelings regarding my adopted kiddo….but our exoerience is different. I believe she has an undiagnosed attachment disorder and that makes my relationship with her different. But I fullt believe in building a family, regardless of HOW. I believe we fond the children we are meant to have, whether through birth, adoption or life paths.

  7. I've been thinking about this and started doing some preliminary research. My understanding is, it's really a myth that there's all these unwanted babies waiting to go to forever homes. It can take years, and thousands of dollars, and the agony of failed placements, before successfully adopting an infant. I also looked into foster-to-adopt for an older child, but at least on my state's website, most of the children aren't available to adopt out of birth order. So we'd have to wait until our daughter is much older before being eligible.

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    • Yes, I'm definitely concerned about the costs involved. We frankly cannot afford thousands of dollars of fees etc., so I think our only option is to adopt from the system. Which is totally fine with us even though we were interested in perhaps adopting a child from Mexico (my husband's family is from there). I am also concerned about the wait time, and other issues like failed placements. Good info on the birth order issue–I didn't know about that one!

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      • I definitely think its worth checking your state's website! Its a case-by-case thing I think. Sadly, it seems like in many of the cases, the birth order thing is necessary because of past abuse. There was a case where a family had to break an adoption, the four year old they had adopted was abusing their biological 18 month old baby πŸ™ VERY sad story (although happily, the four year old was eventually placed with another family and is receiving treatment)

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    • YES. Thank you. Regardless of what the adoption industry wants you to believe,t here are vanishingly few healthy infants who are legitimately in need of a family either in the United States or abroad. The children who actually need adoption are older, must be adopted with siblings, and/or have special needs ranging from mild to significant. I suggest sitting down with your husband and having a frank discussion about what your motives are for adopting. If you want to adopt because you want a baby, don't adopt. Adoption should ALWAYS be about finding a family for a child in need, NEVER the other way around.

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      • I don't think that is entirely fair to say – that if your motivation to adopt is to have a baby, you shouldn't. I have a bio child, and I feel blessed that I was able to have her without difficulty. However, had I not been able to, I would have wanted to adopt, and I would have wanted to adopt a baby. Perhaps that is selfish because I am taking action to meet my own wants and needs (i.e. grow a family), but that is the exact reason why I had a bio child – I wanted a baby – nothing altruistic about that! I appreciate that there are many older children who need a family, but I don't think it is fair to tell people who cannot have children that shouldn't want a baby of their own. Most people choose to have a family because they want to have a family, no other motivation involved.

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  8. I have an adoption between two bio kids. I recently blogged about my feelings regarding my adopted kiddo….but our exoerience is different. I believe she has an undiagnosed attachment disorder and that makes my relationship with her different. But I fullt believe in building a family, regardless of HOW. I believe we fond the children we are meant to have, whether through birth, adoption or life paths.

  9. I just have the one biological daughter (age 1 3/4-ish), but I would love to adopt another child or two between age 3-6 to help make our family feel a bit bigger. I hated pregnancy and birth and the newborn stage, but that doesn't mean I don't want more kids! Unfortunately, I don't think my family would ever qualify here in the South (US). But I can dream. πŸ™‚

    I would think that because adopted children can sometimes have some emotional issues, having already had recent experience with raising another child could help a little. But every kid is totally different so there's no telling! The important thing is giving a child a home that could otherwise have grown up feeling alone and without a family.

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    • don't give up hope on the south. (i am assuming by your comment that's because you're a queer – or what-have-you – family…if i'm projecting, um, nevermind.)

      we're a gay couple fostering in one of the three states where that was made illegal. that was reversed, but that does mean we're among the first *open* couples in the system. precisely no one has cared. on the other hand, a lot of folks have never really dealt with gay couples before, so we've had to do some educating, but everyone has been really open and nice.

      that's not to say that i can guarantee a good experience or anything, but i can say don't write it off. especially since you said "child or two between age 3-6." i think folks interested in adopting "older" (like, older than two) kids – and especially siblings or more than one – are in high demand (like foster parents), and there's a good chance that they'll be so happy to have you no matter what they think of your family structure.

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      • My daughter was adopted in the south, albeit when I was (hetero-ly) married. But things are changing! Don't give up hope!

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    • Not sure about the legalities of things where you live, etc- but
      http://www.adoptuskids.org/ is a really good place with a lot of information for all kinds of scenarios.

      I don't live in the US, but listen to US online radio and heard these adverts and was checking it out.

      (I am really starting to get interested in adopting older kids- everyone needs a loving home πŸ™‚ )

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  10. We had 2 healthy bio kids, and then adopted internationally our son who was in between the ages of other bio kids and was also special needs… we are now on our second international adoption. Id be happy to answer any questions if you have any for us.

    If it helps, our bio kids were 6 and 4 when we adopted, our adopted son had just turned 6…. our new daughter will (hopefully) be 2 when we get her.

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    • How did your children react to having a new older (or almost the same age) sibling? I know all siblings can have jealousy issues when a new family member comes in, but I'd imagine having an older sibling to share with, spend lots of time with, etc, would
      Magnify this. Any tips or advice? Did you feel like bringing in an older child made the adoption more complicated?

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      • Well, my adopted son has down syndrome so although he is the right age to be older, mentally, he is younger – he was on about a 2-3 year old level when we got him, and now he is probably around a 4-5 year old… and physically, he falls right in between the other two.

        It was hard on my bio kids but it wasnt because of jealousy issues (weve raised them to be super independent so they dont constantly need or want our attention, although we are very hands on)…. anyway… it was hard on my bio kids b/c they were used to an environment where everyone shares and is (mostly) nice to everyone else.

        Our adopted son was a favorite where he was and he had pretty much been taught that the world revolved around him. He didnt know how to share, he didnt know how to clean up. He did know how to throw tantrums and hit and bite and do whatever it took to get his way.

        This was a big shock to them and at first, they pretty much wanted nothing to do with him b/c all he ever did was be mean to them. The first 6 months were really rough on everyone in our family… but we soldiered on.

        And now, we are in a really good place… our adopted son knows the rules and boundaries – and still likes to test those at times, but for the most part, he is a really sweet boy, who can now share and place nicely and say please and thank you…

        And our two bio kids treat him like a brother now…. more like a baby brother – they love to play tag and jump on the trampoline together…

        Also, as far as adopting out of birth order – it worked well for us b/c my daughter held her identity as being the youngest (or the baby of the family), and my oldest held his as being the big brother… so when we adopted a child who was in the middle, they both still got to keep their identity.

        With our newest adoption, our youngest is now ready to be the big sister and is eager to finally take care of someone…. so I think you just have to do what is right for your family and no one knows that better than you.

        Hope that was helpful… πŸ™‚

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  11. My aunt had a horrible birth of her daughter and adopted a 1 year old from Guatemala when her daughter was about 5. They are wonderful people, but I know their son has some identity issues. He's 13 now and having a Talmudic name and being raised conservative Jewish in long island while looking very different from the rest of his congregation. His folks have raised him without any of his native culture, not what I would have done. I guess It's good that as h gets older he can vocalize these issues. There are a lot of differnt ways to raise adopt ed kids.

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    • That really sucks. Mayan culture is amazing and I hope your cousin has the chance to experience it. There are a lot of Guatemalan communities (Many of whom are Mam/Ki'che speaking!) on the east coast 'cause of miagrancy so an email to your local latin american community association might not go amiss, with aunt's permission.

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  12. Be aware that if you adopt an aboriginal/inuit child from Canada or the US there are often policies about cultural immersion. Cultural education, visits to the child's home community and maintaining ties with the family are often a part of it. Lots of families have trouble with it cause they feel like the child isn't 'theirs', and the learning curve can be steep for siblings.

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  13. In your exploring, I would love for you to reach out to the people who experience adoption firsthand: the adoptees, especially those that were adopted into families with bio-kids. How did they feel as a kid? How do they feel know? It's one thing to know the process from the adoptive parenting end, but it's another to get inside the experience of those who live it.

    1 agrees
    • As it happens, I've known many adoptees in my life and a couple of my closest friends were adopted. I haven't reached out yet specifically to talk about it in terms of our plans, but through the years I've heard a lot about their experiences. I will definitely be asking them about it, since their insight and advice will be very helpful.

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    • I agree with the advice to reach out to adoptees. I am an adoptee (albeit an only child) and have served on very helpful panels of adoptees to answer questions for prospective adoptive parents. It's critical to know about some of the less rosy aspects of adoption, namely feelings experienced by adoptees. The best to all who wish to grow their families in ways that make sense for them! πŸ™‚

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  14. No parenting advice on this, but my parents did this, so I have some sibling experience to share. Adoption took way longer than my parents thought, so the hoped-for two or three year age gap became 5 years. Also, while my brother is awesome and I love him fiercely, it saddens me that neither of us has a sense of the other's experience. I had friends who were both adopted and I was jealous that they could share the experience of being adoptees with each other.

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    • Yeah, this is sort of what I was getting at. There are tons of adoptees who blog, and some of it is about issues like this. I was glad to be a house full of only adoptees, because as we age we talk about things like reunion and emotions. If I had a bio-kid sibling they might feel left out or jealous of my "other family," and I might feel jealous that they were genetically related to our parents (similarly how I sometimes feel jealous of my siblings that were raised by my mom or dad). It's just things to think about when building a family!

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  15. I'm the youngest of my parents 4 biological children. My parents were also foster-parents to a number of hard to place and/or disabled children and teens for years. Though adoption is a much more permanent situation, I loved my foster sibs as much as my bio-sibs.

    They stopped fostering when I was around 4 or 5, because their final foster daughter needed much more therapy and supervision than they could provide. If you can find other families in person who adopted, I think they'd be your best resource, because you'd be able to talk to them face to face, meet people who'd gone through many of the steps and challenges before you.

    Since I always grew up (till they ceased fostering) with foster sibs, I never saw them as unusual or overly different. My foster-brother Brandon's wheelchair needing wide spaces was more important to me than his lack of blood relation to me. So timing may be really key for you, and if you adopt when your child is older (6+) I think a number of the talks you'd have would have some common touchstones with the same parenting talks about becoming pregnant again and bringing another child into the family.

    Hope this helps, and serious props to you for wanting to give a loving family to a kid who doesn't have one.

    1 agrees
  16. My aunt and uncle had one bio-daughter and then adopted a son. He is wonderful and unquestionably one of us, and his sister loves him and teases him and finds him really, really annoying just like any other six year old little brother. He has some health issues so he's had a lot of attention but she has dealt really well with going from being a very cherished and slightly spoilt only daughter to being the big sister of a kid who needs a lot of input. I honestly thinks it's been great for her. They are open about his adoption but honestly, it never comes up.

    On the other side of the coin, my husband is adopted. He has two brothers who were also adopted from different birth families. I know he finds it comforting that he and his brothers are all on kind of level ground.

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  17. No experience as a parent, but my sister was adopted internationally when I was 8 and my brother was 6. They were trying to adopt a child around 3 years old to give us a bit of a gap, but she ended up being 5. We had the usual sibling rivalries growing up, especially with the closeness in age, and she did have some identity issues as a teen and young adult since at the time keeping cultural connections wasn't really thought about, but she integrated into our family quickly despite having a very different personality than the rest of us, and I never thought of her any differently than I thought of my brother.

    1 agrees
  18. I know that parents with biological children were chosen less often than parents without at our agency. (The thinking being that the birth mother would see a biological child and worry that the first child would be preferred.) If you and your partner are all one race (especially if it's White), I would think long and hard about adopting a child of another race unless you plan to adopt two or more. Also, as someone has mentioned above, unless you're adopting from the foster care system or (ethically) internationally, you're not giving a child who needs one a home – at least not a child who really wouldn't have found a home. If I were you and my intentions were partly charitable and not because that's how I wanted to build my family, foster adopt would be how I would go, and I would adopt siblings so that one isn't the odd one out (assuming you and your family are all the same race, which maybe isn't true).

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  19. How timely! I am no where near ready to have a second, but my story sounds very similar to yours, and I find myself more and more thinking that I would to adopt the second time around. There are so many children in the world who are waiting for a healthy home.

  20. Same boat here. 1 bio child, 2 years old, currently getting certified as Foster parents in order to adopt through the system. We are in a big city and were told the most need is for African American males over the age of 2, so that's what we are anticipating. We are all caucasian, but we have about 12 non-white relatives thru adoption in our extended family, so we feel we have a whole lot of diversity to offer.

    Adoptuskids often only lists the harder to place children. You can get the inside info by calling your local child services agency and speaking to a social worker.

    We recently were referred to a family friend with a pregnant teen daughter looking to adopt out. She will have a presumably healthy, white infant. I felt in my heart, this child is not for us, because she will have countless thousands of parents wanting to adopt her. I feel strongly that we need to go where the true need is. And that is not healthy infant adoption.

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  21. I have a bio son who is 4 and an adopted son who is 2 and a half. Giving birth to one child and then adopting if we decided we wanted more children was alway the plan for my husband and I, and I'm so glad it was! Our experience had ups and downs, but was positive over all. We worked with a private agency that works with First Moms who are making an adoption plan, as well as the State to help place kids in foster care. I cannot say enough good things about our agency, and I can't imagine trying to figure out this process without them.

    We ended up adopting through foster care and our adoption was finalized almost exactly one year after he was placed with our family. The transition was rough for my older son, as is almost always the case when a new child joins a family. But now the boys are pretty much inseparable, and I can't imagine our family another other way. πŸ™‚

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  22. I was 6 when my parents adopted my brother and sister (age 1.5 and 5). They were siblings in the foster care system, and each came with their issues from their past. The adoption was really quick–within a few months of my parents beginning to consider adoption, my sibs were living with us. I had a hard time adjusting in some ways, but over time, they were just like any other siblings. The toughest thing for our family was dealing with the issues from their past–their biological mom had used drugs while pregnant, and this led to health and psychological problems that affected my brother (and thus, ALL of us) his entire life.

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  23. My dream would be to have another bio kid (we have a 5 month old daughter) and then to adopt. Unfortunately in Australia adopting a child from overseas is all but impossible, and I would feel bad taking away opportunities to adopt a child internally from a couple that could not have children. Our plan B is to foster after we have had our kids, though depending on how things pan out we may foster in between too, and we have already started the process of getting approved. I feel somewhat jealous of the relative ease with which US citizens seem to be able to adopt. I would love to give a down syndrome child, from one of those countries that institutionalise them at age 6, a home. But Australia makes it essentially impossible. πŸ™

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  24. This is indeed a very timely topic — we're barely in the "talking about bio kids" stages, but both my husband and I feel very strongly about adopting a sibling group at some point. I look forward to reading more comments!! πŸ™‚

  25. I am a biological child with an adopted brother.
    While we live in Germany he came from Columbia as a baby when I was three years old. Me and my parents never think of him other than our child/brother so for us we are a very normal family.

    For a long time in my youth I was sure I would do the same when I would have children. Now that I want to have children I think slightly different:
    In Germany there are a lot of couples who want to adopt (german) children, so you have to wait a long time. If I am able to become pregnant, do I really want to "take a baby away" from a couple who can't give birth themselves?
    To adopt a child from another country or culture could bring problems as well. My parents know some other families with adopted children (from other cultures) and often the children (now adults) have had a hard time growing up. Of course not all the problems they have are related to them being adopted, but I am sure that fact always plays a role.

    The most terrible thing happened to a friend of my mother whose adopted daughter committed suicide.

    So I can't say "do it" or "don't". I love my brother as much as I would love any sibling – biological or not. So I am very happy that he is adopted and came to our family. But if you do adopt a child you have to be aware that it will most definitely need a lot more love, attention, reassurement etc. than you maybe expect.
    And – the older the children who you adopt are, the more traumatized they are.

    Please don't understand my answer as an advice against adoption. But I think people who want to adopt should be aware of the problems or special needs (smaller or bigger) that most likely will arise.

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  26. I think the key thing for PARENTS who are considering adoption is to ensure that both their motives and actions through the process are as ethical as possible. In some countries, it is almost impossible to adopt from within the country; some areas have restrictive laws that prevent loving families from adopting…in most countries, there is more need to find families for older children. It was important to me to be able to look my daughter in the eye and tell my her how and why we chose to adopt her, specifically as well as more generally…
    On the other hand, though: in my bioethics classes, we often discuss why those looking to adopt are pressured to adopt older children (or fill-in-the-blank children) when there is no such pressure on those who are able to conceive naturally or choose to do so. It's a strong, valid question.
    As far as Raising children who were adopted, or in this case both biological children and children who were adopted, there is so much to be said for LOVE. Most people I have talked with agree that there are a variety of particular challenges that come with families wholly or partially formed by adoption, and that these are challenges we do our best to face with LOVE…Kinda like (as those of us who have "one of each" might say) how we face our biological child challenges…That is to say, parenting is often ^%$@@Y&*(*& hard, and confusing, and once a child is OURS we dive in — as best we can.

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    • Original poster here…thank you for this post. I have been trying to parse out my motives for wanting to adopt and have not yet reached any concrete conclusions. I know that I want to provide a home for a child who otherwise wouldn't have one, but I am not sure that we can handle an older child who may have issues beyond our capabilities. We both work fulltime and I don't see that changing anytime soon, so what happens with childcare providers in these scenarios? We can't afford the thousands in fees etc. involved in private or international adoptions…but am I prepared to foster a baby who might be taken away from us? And what are my expectations for the child's reaction to being adopted?

      I also wonder, is it selfish of me to have a second biological child? I don't think others who have more than one child are selfish, but this is something I wrestle with personally.

      I literally go back and forth on this issue every day. My husband thinks I overthink things, which is true…but this is a big decision and I'm finding it very hard. I am planning on having some frank discussions with friends who have adopted (and friends who are adoptees) to help inform my poor brain.

      Thank you again!

      1 agrees
      • We adopted our special needs son internationally from Hong Kong- he was older… he had just turned 6 when we got him…. and since he was older, he could go to public school for free like our biological children did… so if you adopt 5 years or older, they have to be provided a public education.

        With our newest daughter, she will also be special needs (adopting internationally from China), but it is just a physical issue and nothing medically wrong… she will be 2 (hopefully) when we get her, and we plan to put her in the same daycare place that our other children went to when they were little… its at the local college.

        My husband and I both work full time (actually I work 40 hours in an office and then do photography on the side as well)

        Also, if it makes a difference, there are organizations out there that will offer you an interest-free loan for adoptions… we have not had to go this route, but I do know it exists… also, the money is always scary, but you usually pay things in payments so there is time in between to get what you need and you dont have to pay tens of thousands of dollars up front or anything

        once again, though, I say it is your decision and you know your family best… dont let anyone make you feel bad for what you decide to do.

  27. Yes! This is us! My husband and I have a biological daughter who is almost 1.5 years and we are in the adoption process right now. I'm still breastfeeding my daughter and I plan to exclusively breastfeed the baby. I'm checking out fenugreek to get my supply up. I was actually just talking to my husband about doing a fenugreek test run to make sure I respond to it before we actually adopt.

  28. I was 10 when my parents adopted my little sister, 13 years ago. I was their only biological child together and my mom was unable to have any more, after several miscarriages. I wanted a sibling so they decided to adopt internationally. I know there are pros and cons to both, but they felt international was best for our family. Also, it was a faster process if the child wasn't an infant, and since they had experienced that phase with me, decided to leave the infants for those unable to have any biological children of their own, so my sister was 3 when she was adopted. Our family dynamic is no different than it would have been if she were biological. She adjusted extremely well and is a beautiful, healthy 15 year old! Feel free to ask anything further, good luck!

  29. I personally would love to hear from people who grew up in this kind of situation: older siblings who were born to their parents of younger siblings who were adopted.

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