Tuesday Topic: Adopting More Than One Child at a Time?

The week is racing by and I am finally posting this week’s Tuesday Topic!

I spent the entire morning with a Sears repairman working on my oven. It was our last attempt at repairing it before Sears would agree to replace it. The last repairman told us it would be no problem to replace it, we only had to make a call and tell them we were done with repairs and wanted to use our extended warranty. That wasn’t quite the way it worked out and only after Russ lost the entire morning of work, made multiple calls, and then went to our local Sears store, does it finally look like my oven will be replaced.

I cook for a family of 13, and lots of other friends who grace our table.  Is it too much to ask to have my nearly new oven work?  Maybe so.

Enough about me!

Wendy, from Family Woven by Faith, asked this great question:

What are the pros/cons of adopting more than one child at a time? We are considering also requesting a preschool boy in addition to an infant girl…and we’re willing if God asks us to do it, but quite honestly, it SCARES me to think of helping five children adjust to a major life change!

What do you think?  What have your experiences been?  Please share your thoughts!  I’ll hold your comments until next Tuesday, March 2nd, and then post them all at once.  It makes it more interesting that way!


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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Dawn
    February 25, 2010

    We took in 2 children at once from the foster care system, and adopted them along with another – infant- sibling (after 3 years of foster care). When they came to us we already had 3 children, and they were 3 & 1 years of age.

    It was hard, but not impossible. I have to say that although there are many times I question my sanity in general. I couldn’t imagine it any other way now. I think it is like anything…..it is tough, but adoption in general is tough. Being a mom is tough, but hey, it is a calling.

    I would seek others that have done it, and get information from them. Arm yourself with experience & prayer of others. 🙂

    Can’t wait to hear others wisdom on this.

  2. Paula
    February 26, 2010

    We adopted 5 year old identical twin girls, and I am so glad we did. At first we only requested one child, but my gut kept telling me we should get a sibling group. When the twins became available, we asked to be matched with them, and the rest is history. They joined our bio kids who were 20, 18 and 15 at the time they came home. Having siblings was a true blessing. They at least had each other in their confusing new world, and could continue to communicate to each other during those difficult months with limited English. Sure, it was hard to go from a family of five to a family of seven, but I really feel the benefits to the girls were worth every bit of adjustment pains that we had.

  3. bonnie
    February 26, 2010

    We are currently in the process of bringing home our son and just brought home a daughter last month. We had planned to bring home both at the same time – they are not bio sibs – but the way court worked out we got her first. I know that social workers say only to adopt bio sibs not 2 unrelated kids – but there are times when one needs to listen to God, not man. We had planned to adopt sibs – but fell in love with 2 waiting kids that were not sibs. After much prayer we decided to proceed – the kids are 7 and 8. I will freely admit to being nervous about his homecoming and juggling the intense need of 2 newly adopted kids. But leaving one of them to wait wasn't a possiblity for us – they both have significant medical needs and each had been waiting 2 years for a family. I imagine having them both newly home will be the hardest thing we have ever done, but we do feel it is the right thing – the thing God has called us to.

  4. Tracey
    February 26, 2010

    For me….just like giving birth to multiples….I think adopting multiples (and adding multiple ages) would be very hard. Unless there was a sibling group that was VERY YOUNG or twins etc…I would not do more then one at a time….of course if Samuel had a sibling we would take him/her in a heartbeat, but that didn't happen. Anyway…just my opinion.

  5. Donna
    February 26, 2010

    We chose to adopt two at the same time because our bio children were older and it seemed to fit if we were going to adopt more than one lets do it at the same time. Also older sibling groups are harder to place and we were willing to go there.
    I would say that for us it has been a great senario. While the olders are very busy with their activities, the youngers have much to do together.
    We had adjustment issue, like all adoptions, but I would say that they were ususally spread out , so I was not dealing with a bunch of kids in melt down at the same point.
    It was a great choice for us. Now just praying about that second sibling group!!

  6. Brianna
    February 26, 2010

    We adopted twin boys, who were 16-months-old at the time. In some ways bringing home two children was really difficult: dealing with parasites, grief issues, attachment etc. There were TWO little ones who needed us (in addition to our two year old biological daughter), TWO sets of doctor's appointments to make.


    They'd always had each other. I believe this made the transition easier for THEM, which translated to it being easier for US somehow.

    Now that they're 5, having two versus one really isn't any harder.

    So it worked out great for us, even if it was tough in the beginning. That's not to say that it's right for everyone. However, God is faithful and no matter how daunting the task, if He calls us, He will meet us.

  7. Cindy
    February 26, 2010

    Yep!! we're going for it….. 4 at one time. whew!!! Three are sisters and one is a boy unrelated. I'll tell ya how it turns out at the end 🙂

  8. Sarah
    February 26, 2010

    We adopted two girls at the same time from Ethiopia last year and I feel very strongly that choosing to adopt two together was the best decision we ever made for many reasons. If your child might be the only person of his/her race in the family, considering adopting two together becomes of even greater importance. I also feel our children – both toddlers – transitioned into our family much better having come to us with an "instant friend".

  9. dorothy
    February 26, 2010

    We have always been open to adopting sibling groups but God's plans have been to bring them into our home one child at a time (even if they are siblings.) We do believe that the trauma and turmoil of brining more than one child into the home at a time can be very challenging but He never promised us that any of this would be easy…….He only promised that we would never walk alone.

  10. barb
    February 26, 2010

    Our family adopted 5 children in July of 2004. They ranged in age from 14 – 4 ( 4 boys and 1 girl) and are full biological siblings. They had lived in an orphanage in Cebu, Philippines that is run by devoted Christians with hearts as big as you will ever find on this side of heaven. This orphanage is known for finding families for large siblings groups. There have been groups of 5, 6, and many groups of four adopted from this shelter. Right now there is a group of 9 siblings who are waiting for a family.

    Looking back, we feel that adopting more than one child at a time was a blessing in several ways. First and fore most, the kids had each other as they settled down into family life with "strangers." They continued to use their familiar language as they learned English, they had each other when they were scared, they have each other to help preserve the memories they have of their years before becoming a part of our family. They arrived with a "connection" and attachment to each other and are not "alone" as they process what it means to be adopted.

    We will acknowledge that it is complicated to establish relationships with this many people. We had 4 biological children–two of whom were in college at the time of the adoption. Nine siblings makes for an interesting mix of relationships and connections! The initial adjustment was difficult for all of us–especially me, the mom. The "work" of feeding, clothing and doing school work with this many can be very challenging. If you do adopt more than one child at a time, be ready to "give-up" some other things in your life to concentrate solely on your kids. Gradually, you will be able to re-claim some of those things as time goes on.

    We have found that families who adopt once, often do so again when they discover some of the blessings of this calling. We feel like it was a blessing to do all of our "adopting" at one time–never again to have to fill out paper work, do a home study etc. 🙂

    May God guide your family as you make your decision!

    1. Jennie
      August 2, 2011

      We are considering a similar situation of adopting 4 children from an orphanage in Cebu. We have 3 biological children already – twin girls age 8 and a boy age 6 1/2. The children we are considering are twin boy/girl age 4, a girl age 10, and a boy almost 14. What orphanage did you adopt from and what has life been like since? We are praying very heavily. I have been to this orphanage where they are as I've been to Cebu three times on missionary trips. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

  11. Debbie
    February 26, 2010

    I have two birth children and twice our family has adopted two children at a time. The first, thru foster care with toddlers that were 13 months apart. The second, from Africa with children that were 9 years apart. In both cases the children were birth siblings. I have to say, that as challenging as it can be for the adopted family to grow in multiples, it means so much to the children to come to a new life with some tie already in place. The most challenging part was when the children would begin a "negative cycle" with each other — carrying old behaviors from their birth home. It can be quite challenging, but I believe good for the children.

    In my opinion it is hard, but it so good for the children to know they aren't the only one experiencing this adoption and to keep their sibling in their new family

    Debbie G.

  12. Julie
    February 26, 2010

    I only speak from our experience, and I know others have adopted more than one at a time and come out unscathed.

    You must pray about where God is leading you and listen carefully to His voice.

    I think much depends on your energy level and your maturity and emotional stability, as well as the age of the children and amount of trauma they have endured.

    We were a mature, stable, somewhat energetic family, but when we brought our little girl with multiple traumas home, it was the hardest thing I have ever faced. I did not know if we were going to live through those early weeks. I do not know how others with more than one do it. Pure exhaustion.

    Having said that, I repeat, you must pray about where God is leading you and listen carefully to His voice. If He calls you, then He will equip you and carry you through. That's a fact.

    Blessings to you,

  13. Rita
    February 27, 2010

    If you feel God is calling you to adopt more then one child, do it! He will provide for all your needs (emotionaly, physicaly, mentaly and spiritualy). We adopted a sibiling group of four last year. We now have 8 children, ages 13 through 6 years old. It has been difficult at times, but we have seen the hand of God, moving and transforming lives. If He calls you to do it, don't be afraid, step out in faith and do it.

  14. Julie
    February 28, 2010

    We just adopted three brothers from Haiti. I can already tell their are pros and cons. They have each other and that has helped with their transition and security issues. They are able to help us when one of them needs something and we can't figure out what. It is definitely challenging but their has been MUCH laughter too. I think their language acquisition will be slower as they speak to each other in creole. Disciplining is tough because when you are trying to work with one you have no idea what the other two may be up to. All in all I would not trade our experience for anything. I would say Go For It!!!! God will not give you more than you can handle.

  15. heidi
    February 27, 2010

    I think about this often because we adopted each of our four children individually, even though two of them are siblings. The adjustment process is long. I used to think it was three months before the kids settled in, but now I look at it in terms of years. I wonder if it would have been easier to go through the early months and first year at once, rather than as we did it recently, three in a row, but honestly, I'm not sure it would have been best for our family. By adding one child at a time, we were able to adjust and give that new child more attention than I think we would have adding two or more at once. Perhaps if the children are siblings who have lived together (a surprising number of siblings live apart prior to adoption) it would be best to adopt two at once. I know finances plays a part in these decisions, too, and obviously that can not be ignored. But, if you have never adopted before, it can be quite overwhelming, and maybe focusing on one child at a time is a good strategy.

  16. Jillian and Crew
    March 1, 2010

    That is a great question and I love that families are really praying over it and thinking about it BEFORE they commit to it. Our sons are not bio related but knew each other from the deaf school. We were told how GREAT they got along…(clears throat)…they are SO different from each other and were not in the same class or crowd at the deaf school. Things that one child needs/uses to sooth and feel comfoprtable sets the other child off into a spiral of negative behaviors. One son finds great comfort is having an Ethiopian brother and the other sees it as an extreme "fight to see who stays" situation.The truth is, you just don't know if they get along, what they will need to cope or what they might do to even trigger each other….

  17. Jillian and Crew
    March 1, 2010

    part 2: (It wouldnt let me post the whole thing, hmm is your website calling me LONGWINDED-guilty!)

    A year home and we are still working on "what is family" and "family is forever" and they both need that but in very different ways. Only you know what you are capable of, but I APPLAUD you for looking into it now…before the possible "crisis moment."
    I believe they eventually will be VERY thankful for each other and to share this journey with each other, even if they both need different things and we have to walk that line carefully-I am glad they have each other and I am glad God blessed us with them.

  18. Kim
    March 1, 2010

    Last August we adopted two children at once. We had one bio daughter (6) and added another daughter (5) & son (3). There were definately pros/cons. Pros: While we did not adopt two at once for this reason, our agency fees were less for us due to discounts they offered for adopting more than one at a time. Upon returning home our kids had something familiar and comforting (each other), which I believe helped them not be as scared and fearful of the major life change they were going through. Cons: while it was great for our kids to have each other I feel it took longer for their English to begin to develop b/c they were able to speak in their native language well with each other. Our bio daughter also exhibited behaviors of anger that were very difficult as a result of the other two speaking together and the rest of us not being able to understand. Those are just a few of the pros and cons. It's been incredibly hard to manage 3 children's adjustment at once, and honestly we still have a long ways to go. I will say it's been do-able and amazingly rewarding. It's twice the hugs and kisses, as well as, a journey of faith like none other I have been on with my Lord!

  19. jen
    March 2, 2010

    The background: We had two bio kids, a 6yo girl and a 4yo boy. We adopted a 5yo girl and an-almost-2yo boy. So we adopted two children, and we adopted out of birth order (gasp!). It's been just about 2.25 years since they came home.

    The pros for us have been many! When they were first home, the two new children took great comfort in each other; they still have a special bond and watch out for each other, though they don't exclude the rest of the family. The older child remembers her life in Ethiopia and shares those memories with her younger brother; this is one of the sweetest parts of their relationship – it goes back even longer than our relationship! In our home the girls share a room, and the boys share a room; this meant that both of our bio children got a new sibling. That has been great; the girls and the boys have bonded well. Another benefit is that we got the larger family without two adjustment periods, it was cheaper financially to adopt two at once, and we only had one paper pregnancy; we sometimes joke that we got two for the price of one – in more ways than just money! Adopting two at once has also allowed us to feel a little more balanced as a family; when we go to eat Ethiopian, it's not just for one member of the family – it's for one third of the family. (That's a very simplistic – and probably silly – example, but it gives you an idea of what I mean.)

    While it isn't a pro or a con, I would say that though we adopted two I have rarely felt like adopting two was so much harder than adopting one. Even if we had adopted one, we would have gone through many of the ups and downs that we have experienced with two.

    The cons are very few: It was hard to adjust to that much more food (both of ours ate TONS when they came home, so it was really like cooking for two more adults for every meal), that much more laundry, and that much more noise . . . but we knew that was going to be the case, so the "hard" was a calculated cost. I about went nuts trying to care for everyone's overwhelming needs at one point, but I started running, praying more, and being intentional about taking care of myself . . . and I found it easier to take care of everyone else. I do wonder sometimes if we had only adopted one if maybe that one child would not have some of the attachment/loss issues that we deal with now, but that really isn't possible to say.

    I'm so glad that we adopted two at once; as a matter of fact I was thinking that exact thing just the other day, before I even read this question. Having these two children as a part of our lives has been wonderful!

  20. laurad
    March 3, 2010

    well. seein's how we recently returned from Uganda with 3 boys…i'd say i'm fairly qualified to comment! 😉

    3 boys, ages 4, 5 and 5 not biological brothers, but from the same orphanage–2 were brought near birth, the other at age 1. one is hearing impaired…which is treatable, one has a speech impediment–also treatable, the other very articulate.

    for the children's sake:: i think it has been easier for all 3 to have each other. they already act as brothers since they've been raised together. they get along well, although one is quite bossy. they have people in our family that look like them, share their history, previous culture, and love of africa…and so far, they all still love africa. (which is good by me). i have not seen any outward signs of grief…don't know whether that is good or bad…no unruly behavior, crying, anger, etc. one does have night terrors every so often, 2 wet the bed, but that is all thus far. i keep thinking they need to have a big come apart and cry for what they've lost, but they haven't. there's still little eye contact, speaking above a whisper, clutching food, hovering over their food…

    they look out for each other and make sure each other has what they need…which is nice…however, I also wonder if it is hindering attachment? bonding? because they have one another to turn to, who needs mom or dad? but that's just me wondering…i'm not sure if that is really true or even worth considering.

    for us:: it has been hard as heck…and actually I don't mean heck, but you catch my drift, to go 'back in time' and be parents to 3 preschoolers. this is our first adoption and there are so many adjustments we anticipated having to make and even more that we did not anticipate. however! all in all, i really do think it has been very good to have all three together. i can't even imagine just having one of the boys because they just fit together. they have left so much behind, and everything is so weird and new here.

    I think it is best to adopt more than one child from the same country/orphanage at a time. i believe that the Lord uses one to bolster the other emotionally, mentally, physically… that being said, one of ours said yesterday he misses africa and wants to live there because he was happy. there will be sadness no matter what, and hard transitions no matter what, but i do think it's good to consider adopting more than one child. prayer, listening to the Lord, reading His word, and following the Holy Spirit's leading is key.

  21. One Thankful Mom
    March 3, 2010

    Be sure to stop by my friend, Cat's blog, [A]Typical Family to read her response. Her comment got so long that she turned it into a blog post on her own blog. It is worth a click to read it yourself.


  22. Wendy
    March 3, 2010

    Wow…what an amazing response! Thank you so much to all of you for taking the time to write all this out!
    We haven't totally settled the issue yet…we're still definitely waiting on the Lord's direction, though we both came to the idea of adopting two at about the same time. Hmm… 🙂 At this point, our ability to adopt two at once is "seemingly" in the hands of our home study writer, who doesn't see how we're going to manage to finance the adoption for one, even though adding a second child is only $4K more. Once she sees that we have the funds, she may be willing to change our home study approval for two. I say she doesn't stand a chance…in just a year, God has provided $15,000 of the needed $25K! But we don't want to be naive or simplistic, either. "In an abundance of counselors there is victory. Prov. 11:14." Thanks for being among our counselors on this one!

  23. Jill
    March 9, 2010

    What a great conversation. We signed up to adopt two boys, related or not, with an age gap, not the same age. After considerable prayer, we adopted two unrelated preschool age boys from Ethiopia in 2008. We have an 8 month difference. Artificial twinning. We were told they got along well. I suppose they had no choice. I think our older son had been pushed around by little brother way too much. When he heard he was going to the same home…… well, we can only imagine, but I think it went something like this, "Of all the kids in this place, why THAT one?!" And honestly, I don't blame him if that is what he thought. It took a year for him to actually accept this younger brother as a brother at all. The reasons we did two at once: our girls are much older, so they would have someone in the family with a similar story and skin color, a playmate like the girls have had in eachother, mostly because we felt led by God to do so.
    The Good: At this point they have bonded as brothers and have only normal brotherly annoyances with eachother, they have a friend, they have both bonded and attached well (on different timelines and with different helps), they are not alone and they comment on that regularly so we feel that was a good choice. I love them both so much and they each bring their own brand of happy to our lives.
    The bad and ugly: I was perpetually tired for the first year, helping each attach in their own way and time was a ton of energy and effort and time and research and work and tears and well….. it was very hard at first, two boys are more noise and movement than one, the competition! WOW! but, I hear this is normal for boys in general. The girls have seriously bonded with the easy little "big brother" but not so great with the infuriatingly annoying little "little" brother. But I will say they are going to bat for him more often now than they did even a few months ago and as he grows he matures!!! WOW, that is one thing about growing up I love.
    We are coming up on two years this summer. I can not imagine not having done this with both of them. We rest in the grace of God for the strength he provides for what we truly and honestly can not do. With him all things are possible. Yea! for our boys who are doing great, for our family all together, for our big huge God who makes it work.
    So, if you are thinking about doing two at once. Pray hard. Go for it and don't ever look back.

  24. Steve Brown
    August 13, 2015

    My wife and I are thinking of adopting 3 and there will be another here in December. Not sure how we are going to handle 4 at once. The amount of change scares me. We live in a 2 bed 1 bath and do not have the vehicles to carry 4 kids around. The ages are 1 ,2 ,9 and a new born in December. We have been trying to have a child for 7 years and praying for a family. So it is hard to not take them.
    Also how do you not take all 4. How do you choose what kids to take. On top of adding on to the house and changing vehicles. The change is scary. Any advise would be appreciated .


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