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Adopting When We Have a 5 Year Old Birth Child

Bay January 24, 2021 23:34


We are a married couple aged 43 and 37 and we have a 5 year old birth child. We are considering adopting a child aged around 2.

Has anybody adopted with a birth child around this age and what have been the effects you experienced with your family as a whole and how has it affected your birth child?

Our birth child has always been in a loving and caring environment and has never been exposed to any of the challenges that adopted children have normally faced in the past.

Our concern that we have is that having an adopted child come into our family will cause our birth child to change and will change our relationship with our birth child.

Any experiences that people who are willing to share that have been in a similar situation will be appreciated.

Edited 17/02/2021
windfalls January 25, 2021 13:16

Hi Bay,

We adopted 13 years ago. At that time our birth son was 5 1/2 and our ad was 13 months when we brought her home. Our b's is now 19 1/2 and our ad is nearly 14. We also have a younger b's who is 9.

It has without doubt effected our eldest b's and not always in a good way. We went for a younger child as we thought that this would mean less problems - how wrong we were!! Although she was meeting all of her milestones in foster care, she was DX ADHD and ODD at 6, dyslexia at age 8, dyspraxia aged 9 and Asd aged 10. What we had failed to take into account was genetic factors and in utero experience - why birth parents are unable to parent properly and put their child's needs before their own.

Our ad's behaviour can be very challenging and this has had a negative impact on our eldest b's. He has never been able to have his friends over as much as he would have liked - esp for sleepovers, holidays are a nightmare because she cannot deal with the change to her routine or environment, so much so that we no longer go on them. Evenings can be really bad especially as her meds wear off and so her behaviour can very easily escalate resulting in massive tantrums/meltdowns and this made it very difficult for him to revise for exams. Also he gets used as a third parent - if I or my husband don't give her what she wants she will immediately go to him and so he gets dragged into her tantrums

On a positive note, he is very mature for his age and very caring. Also the age gap meant that as he got older he was able to escape to his friends when it all got too much. It has not affected our relationship with him if anything we are closer because of it. We were keenly aware of the affect it was having on him and so put extra measures in place to protect him. We made sure that they were in different schools so he was able to escape her there and not be affected by her behaviour (this has been even more important for our youngest), also as he was the eldest he had special privileges such as staying up later and also my husband would take him away on their own each year on holiday. As a result they are incredibly close and have kept up their "boys" holiday - my son is currently planning where they should go this year.

I think if anything my ad's behaviour impacts more on my youngest and he has suffered so much more than my eldest.

It is not an easy route to go down and adoption is a complete lottery as you just don't know what you will end up having to deal with. It has put an enormous strain on us all. Although I love my ad and are committed to doing the very best for her, if I had known then what I know now I would not have adopted. But that is just my view.

Best wishes with whatever you decide. Xx


Edited 17/02/2021
nalabanana January 26, 2021 09:37

Hi Bay

I've just come across your post and Windfalls reply above and I have to say Windfalls experience very much mirrors our own.

My birth daughter was 5 years old when I adopted my second daughter at 6 months old.

For the first couple of years it was relatively stress free but when ad started attending preschool her behaviour became more challenging. She was in the first instance diagnosed with dyslexia at 7 (biological family trait) then at around age 9 I was receiving daily emails from her school about her disruptive behaviour. She would steal from home, swear at her sister, belittle her and insult her - so much so that bd stopped bringing her friends to the home.

Eventually at age 11 ad got her diagnosis of ADHD and ASC with a PDA profile. We have had years and I mean years of abuse (child to parent) and our home looked like a war torn bombsite (ad had violent meltdowns where she completely trashed the house. We have no photos on our walls, broken windows and doors (shes nearly 6ft tall now and in a rage ripped a door off its hinges), anything not screwed down got thrown or smashed up, police visits....the list goes on. My birth daughter was in therapy at age 13 - 18. She had a stress ulcer by age 17 and suffers from anxiety. However she is 23 years old now and like Windfalls son, is a v caring mature adult who understands Autism, Mental Health and de escalation techniques better than ANY professional I've ever met - and I've met A LOT over the course of 15 years! She has also said that she would never now herself adopt, knowing how the adopted children have impacted the families adopting them special needs or not.

I wish you well of course. Everyones journey will be different - I would just REALLY advocate maintaining a strong support group of other adoptive families. And also be prepared for the great debate of unknown DNA traits and pre natal damage inflicted on the unborn child that no one can predict. It is very much a lottery.

All the best

J x

Edited 17/02/2021
windfalls January 26, 2021 10:18

Sending you hugs Nala. Xx

Edited 17/02/2021
Bay January 26, 2021 13:48

Thank you very much for your responses. Sharing your experiences is very much appreciated and have given us a lot of very useful things to consider.

We are nearing the end of the first stage of the Adoption process and information we have found out on the online prep training and on this forum is making us seriously reconsider whether adoption is going to be right for our family.

Edited 17/02/2021
Safia January 26, 2021 14:24

We adopted when our birth children were much older - 14 and 20 - it still affected my younger daughter quite a bit, though not so much as a much younger child - my eldest daughter moved out very soon afterwards but she initially shared a room with AD which worked fine. My younger daughter used to come home from school - looking forward to seeing us all only to be met with abuse - I used to really feel for her. I could hardly do anything with her as a teenager and only visited her at university once. Both had been really positive about the decision and fully involved in the process but no one knows what it will really be like. It’s generally advised to wait till children are older but of course there’s lots of things to consider in any decision. There have been some people with positive experiences - you will find lots of different people's experiences in the old archives if you search as this was quite a common question

Edited 17/02/2021
Bay January 30, 2021 17:14

Thank you Safia for sharing your experience.

Edited 17/02/2021
DaisyBelle April 5, 2021 16:00

Hi, this was posted a while ago, but wanted to give you our experience. We adopted last year, a little boy who was 2. Our birth son was 7. We were warned that our birth son could be jealous of our adopted son, which we didn’t think was likely as he is just not like that, and was very keen on having a younger sibling. However, it was our AS that we found was jealous, and would hit and bite our BS. He coped with it well, but I did feel that we neglected our BS for a time at the start, as all our focus was on AS. Plus, it was at the start of COVID, so couldn’t get physical help at all from family etc. However, over a year on, and it is much better, they still fight a bit but nowhere as bad, and my husband and I agree it is the best thing we have done. They are fundamentally loving to each other, and AS will copy our BS, and looks up to him. It just took time and patience. Our AS doesn’t have any learning or behavioural difficulties which I appreciate makes thing easier, I’m not sure I would have such a rosy view if there were additional issues to work through.

April 20, 2021 09:50

Hello, I have just seen your message as no longer actively using Linkmaker. We welcomed our adopted daughter last May (aged 1), when our birth son was 5, nearly 6. The year has had its challenges but on the whole it has been wonderful. Our son is a doting brother and our daughter is heaven. She's full of energy, which needs to be channelled and can be exhausting (particularly with lockdown issues) but she's amazingly joyful and has an incredibly positive attitude to live. We were very lucky in that she came from a very loving and stable foster home (from where she was since 2 days old). Our bs was longing for a sibling and was pretty involved in the process, but we've been very impressed by him. Emotionally he's incredibly mature and so lovely with her (even during tantrums, which are BIG!). Life has changed dramatically for them over the last year and I'm incredibly proud of them. I'm sure there will be greater obstacles to come but for the time being we are thrilled with our decision. You don't know what's coming at you with your birth children either! Good luck.

Donatella April 20, 2021 15:49

First, I don’t have a birth child so feel free to ignore me! I have three adopted teenagers - one almost 20 (wow!), one 17 and one 15. They all came separately but without - as you can see - huge age gaps. They were all 12 months and under when they came home.

As well as thinking about age gap, I’d think about where your birth child might be socially, emotionally and educationally at various trigger points for an adopted child - ime it starts to get harder when your child starts school and unless you have a school which wants to understand and work with you and your child then it can be tricky for all - particularly if a birth child is in school with your adopted child. My three attended different schools.

On the basis that no two kids are the same, my eldest was pretty much fine until 15 then he turned into a horror - common in all teenagers. He left for uni at 18 and is now a much nicer person!

Middly was a hell child from 3-11. During that period he was dx adhd and and had various school moves, all of which took a toll financially as well as emotionally. Doing well now and mostly a joy.

My youngest was probably at her trickiest from 8 - 12. She was dx asd/pda at 7. She also has learning difficulties. We’ve had some interesting times with her but now for the most part she’s a regular stroppy teenager

Right now things are going well. One in uni, one doing his A levels and one her GCSEs. It’s the easiest it’s been and we’re into year 20 so it can be a long haul

It’s doable and I’ve no regrets but there have been sacrifices and it’s been a full time job so go in with your eyes wide open, educate yourself as to the possibilities of future difficulties, read up about fasd as it’s a probability and just accept that it may be an entirely different parenting ride


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