Friday, August 19, 2011

Traveling with Siblings for Adoption

At least once a month, I see the question come up as to whether siblings should travel to meet/bring home a newly adopted sibling/siblings. There are a lot of things to consider and there is no "right" or "wrong" answer. In our case, having Abigail along was a great decision, but there are cases where it's not worked out well for the family. Here are some things to think about as you make that decision:

Is your child(ren):

  • Okay with being away from mom/dad for more than a night or two?
  • Used to traveling?
  • Able to sit still for at least a few hours (those flights are long!)
  • Able to deal with changes in schedules/routines/diet?
  • Used to sharing mom/dad's attention?
  • Able to entertain themselves if you need to direct your attention to new brother/sister or other aspects of adoption process (ie- embassy interview)?
  • Excited about new sibling(s)? Experiencing mixed feelings about new sibling(s)?
  • Old enough to "get something" out of the experience of international travel/old enough to remember the experience?
  • Comfortable around strangers?
Are you:
  • Worried about splitting time between new child(ren) and other child(ren)?
  • Traveling with a spouse/other adult or by yourself?
  • Comfortable traveling? Or do you tend to get sick/nervous when traveling?
  • Anxious when separated from your child(ren)?
  • Planning to be the sole caregiver for your newly adopted child/planning to practice attachment parenting?

There are those who would suggest that your newly adopted child needs 100% of your attention and should not have to "compete" with sibling(s) for your attention. Others may suggest that the process of caring for more children other than your newest child(ren) would slow or hinder your bonding/attachment process. While these are valid thoughts and certainly are something you should consider, I think another thing to consider is that your newest child is part of a family. And that family, all of it, is important to this child(ren)... and this newest child is important to them in return.

In my experience, having Abigail along during my time in Ethiopia definitely helped my bonding process with Anna. I believe this is because Anna could see that Abigail trusted me, and this helped her to be able to trust me... she could see that Abigail and I loved each other, and that I took care of Abigail- she learned to expect that I would do the same for her. Because she had been hurt by adults in her life, she was able to relate to another child in a way she didn't quite relate to an adult. Not to mention, kids are goofy, and laughing together over the goofy things Abigail (and eventually Anna) did helped to create some common ground, despite language barriers.

Abigail was great during our travel. Having my mom along to help meet some of Abigail's needs helped relieve the pressure of parenting 2 while only knowing 1 of them (not to mention, Abigail loves time with Gaga!) Having my mom along also helped me to feel okay when I needed to take a break or when I was stressed. But the success of traveling with Abigail had a lot to do with Abigail herself- her personality, her age, her development. While I believe she would have been (emotionally) fine to stay home, I think it was great for her (and Anna, and I) to come along. 

What are your thoughts on traveling with siblings for adoption?

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