The Adventures of Adopting Two Children at Once - IMO
My husband and I adopted two beautiful children on March 18th of this year. Our son, J, is almost 2; our daughter, V, is almost 3. They are our first and only children. Ergo, we are complete and total parenting buffoons. We know next to nothing. We are making it all up as we go, every single day - which is to say we’re creatively failing, a lot. The following are the areas of parenting wherein I currently feel comfortable giving advice:
*Changing Diapers: oh, friend, we have this down to an art now. With two in diapers, both experiencing solid foods for the first time, both ravenous wolves bent on eating us out of house and home, we have figured this out, and quick. I can change a diaper in a chair, I can change a diaper at the fair, I can change a diaper here or there, I can change a diaper anywhere! Best piece of advice (and note to self), potty train ASAP.
Yeah… that about sums it up. Still, it wasn’t so long ago I was scouring all media outlets to follow any and all journeys even remotely similar to ours while we waited to meet our children, right up to the last moment. (I started reading Ms. Davis’ “Kisses from Katie” on the flight from Detroit to Beijing and it was kind enough to put quite a few things into perspective for me.) So I am more than happy to return the favor and share some of the reasons behind our decision to adopt two children at once from my own unique, buffoon point of view.
PROS OF ADOPTING TWO AT ONCE (the Dream and the Reality):
*We wanted a girl and a boy — simple as that really. Once we read the file for each of our children, we felt we were meant to bring them home. We still feel this way.
*We both ardently believed that siblings are one of life’s greatest gifts - and yes, we still do. Having someone to share your life with, to tell you the truth when no one else will, to have your back no matter what, is priceless. We wanted our children to be in this together from the very beginning of their time with us. J and V are from the same province; they have the same “Gotcha Day;” they haven’t been apart from one another for more than a few hours since they first met. Neither one of them lets the other get too far out of their sight. They will not sleep if they cannot see each other. The first thing they do every single morning is check to be sure the other is still there, babbling loudly to one another until one of their parents arrives to start the day. They may not ever always get along, but they know that they need each other.
*We believed they would ‘play together.’ We’ve witnessed this beautiful phenomenon with our nieces and the children of close friends on occasion and of course, we only ever remember getting along swimmingly with our own siblings (ahem), so we were happily looking forward to this perk. So far, we’ve experienced ‘fighting together’ and ‘whining together,’ ‘tattling together,’ ‘jealous, together’ and my personal favorite, ‘getting into trouble together.’ Haven’t seen them willingly share anything yet, but I’m still holding out hope. Maybe after college.
*We did not want to travel twice. In the grand scheme of things, this is a pretty lame reason to go from 0 to 2 children at once and while it certainly wasn’t at the top of our list, in the interest of full disclosure, it was on the list. We were allowed by our chosen country’s program to adopt two children (if our state, both of our adoption agencies and our social worker also agreed) using the same mountain of paperwork either at one time or within a few months of arriving home with our first child. Reusing said paperwork saves a family both time and money and allows them, if called to do so, to adopt two children in need. In our case, we felt it would be most difficult on our newly adopted daughter, (we knew of V months before J), to be away from even one of her parents for nearly three weeks and then have to readjust to the family dynamic with a new, grieving sibling so soon after coming home. Traveling with her back to the place of her birth so soon also seemed unnecessarily confusing, and exhausting. So after much discussion, we decided if we did not find our son in time to travel only once, then it was not meant to be — at least not within the reuse-of-paperwork time frame.
CONS OF ADOPTING TWO AT ONCE:
*We knew we had no idea what we were doing. We still have no idea what we’re doing (please see all of the above).
*We knew that going from 0 to 2 would be daunting. In point of fact, it was terrifying. And crazy. And terrifying. Again, I can only speak for myself but I swear on all that is good and green on this beautiful Earth, I could feel my heart hammering my ribs for two solid days. Literally. Hours after meeting our children I escaped to volunteered to attend our first group paperwork meeting, leaving my husband of sixteen years alone with our two equally terrified toddlers (oh yes, I did), and all I remember about that entire 90 minute session is the absolute certainty that I was going to fall over dead at any moment. I held my fingers to the pulse in my wrist under the table and wondered how much trouble my husband would have completing the rest of the paperwork necessary to leave the country with our children after my untimely demise. Not good times.
Don’t get me wrong, though - those first few days were amazing. Our children were beautiful and they did so much better with the transition than we thought they would. I know that I would have felt the exact same fear with any child I had given birth to, and maybe that has been my biggest lesson so far: in the midst of preparing to handle the specific challenges of parenting two small children who had already been through so much in their short lives, I lost focus on all of the everyday challenges any parent faces in a typical 24 hours. We were handed two active, energetic and voracious toddlers and then confined to a small cell hotel room and the first time our daughter said ‘Ma-MUH,’ my husband had to quietly remind me that she was talking to me. I was in shock, to put it bluntly, and it took my husband and I every bit as long to find our new rhythm as it has taken our little ones to find theirs. I imagine that’s how it’s supposed to be, and every day it’s a little better. Even on the hard days, there’s always those moments, however fleeting, when I realize we’re a family and even if I could, I wouldn't go back and change that. Not for all the world.
Oh my, how I love them.