Tuesday Topic: When Your Child Doesn’t Want You to Adopt

This week’s Tuesday Topic introduces a very important topic.  Karen asked,

My husband and I have three boys…14, 11, & 3. We have started the adoption process again, but our middle son is totally against it.  We have had two failed foster-to-adopt situations in the past, so I’m sure that has contributed to his feelings. He’s also the one that is the most resistant to change. Any tips on how we can reassure him and help him?

What are your thoughts?  I’m sure that some of us have experienced this and can lend some words of wisdom to Karen.  How much weight would you give to your child’s feelings about not wanting you to adopt another child?

I hope you’ll take a moment to respond by leaving a comment.  No need to have a completely formed, perfect reply.  Feel free to share the questions that would come to you in this situation.  Let’s have a discussion.

What does your day hold?  This is a big homeschooling day for me, and I leave for Refresh on Thursday, so I’m trying to get things organized for Russ. My friend, Signe, is coming over after school with her kids; it will be nice to see a friend.

We had our Monday evening phone call with Dimples and it was a bummer.  Last week she was eager to tell us all kinds of things; this week she seemed to barely tolerate our conversation.  We have our first visit in a couple of weeks and it is not going to be easy.

Happy Tuesday, friends.

Lisa

 

This post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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.

27 Comments

  1. DebiB
    February 5, 2013

    I totally agree with Beth's comment, too! We had two teenage boys when we entered the world of foster care. We agreed to NEVER take a child without their consent. Yes, we're the parents; however, we wanted to enter this as a FAMILY ministry. We knew that if the road got hard, we'd need to all be together. I think it's so important to honor your bio children in this process!

    Reply
  2. Karla Marie Williams
    February 5, 2013

    We adopted a sibling group of 3 seven yrs ago. We are now in the process of adopting 3 more. At first we wanted an age group of 0-4. Over the last couple of weeks our hearts have completely been moved toward older child adoption. We asked our children their thoughts on this. My daughter is the only girl……she was excited all along to have 1 or 2 more sisters BUT really wants someone closer to her age which is 10. My oldest son 9 wants a big brother but not a teenager b/c he will only be home for a little while before leaving for college. My youngest son 6 wants someone his age or younger….does not want 5 bosses as he put it! I was amazed at their reasoning but it helped us decide the best fit for our family and we extended our choice to sibling groups ranging from 0-10 yrs.
    I believe your son's fear/apprehensions are very real and important……….after understanding why he feels this way in as much detail as possible……….. maybe he will warm up. Try including them in some of the decisions like rearranging & decorating rooms, etc. Most importantly, make a list of things that will NOT CHANGE as a result of a new sibling and help him understand that the children that are designed to be part of your family….will be! Hope it helps in some way!

    Karla Marie Williams http://www.familybydesignadoption.com

    Reply
  3. Traci
    February 5, 2013

    Thankfully, we've never had this problem in our home; meaning, I don't know that I can help. I've always wondered what I would do in this situation. Our friends took the stand that the parents make these decisions – not the children – and they have a bitter 14 year old. There daughter has been home nearly 4 years. Blessings to Karen as she tries to sort this out.

    Reply
  4. Anonymous
    February 5, 2013

    This is a great question!! I'm looking forward to answers on this.

    We're thinking about when to start the process to adopt again, and with our first adoption being so rough, I'm not sure how the kids will react. And how much should their reaction factor into our decision of when/if to adopt again?

    Reply
  5. Leslie
    February 5, 2013

    I would listen carefully to his concerns and try to include him in the process, listening carefully for unexpressed worries and addressing them. It is a critical age with lots of anticipation of change and that can be hard for a sensitive child. Laying out the specific things that need to happen and anticipated timeframe, as much as it can be known, can help. Having compassion and remembering how we adults feel out of control and seek lots of information as we start the adoption process can help. Maybe show him some web pages or books that discuss the steps of adoption and explain adoption or culture if it is a cross-cultural adoption. I would want him to know that he is important and his concerns are important. I'm sure the failed placements are part of that too, so also addressing feelings and unexpressed thoughts about that is important. Those are just a few thoughts. Hugs. Adoption is a stretching, challenging process.
    I'm sorry about the disappointing call, Lisa. You all are in my prayers. I hope you have a productive and peaceful day.

    Reply
  6. angela s
    February 5, 2013

    I say take it slow. We had a failed foster to adopt on a sibling group of four. It was traumatic for us all and triggered some behavior issues with our 5 and 7 year olds. We eventually accepted that our children weren't ready and let our license go. It was so hard. We decided we'd wait until the boys were teenagers and try then. Strangely enough the Lord worked on our whole family so that a year and a half later we're getting relicensed. Only this time it is fostering only and no children over 1 yr old. Last go around I had huge guilt for wanting to do that and couldn't limit what we were considering. This time while yes I'd love adoption to happen later, I know my kids love babies and know it could be good to "just foster" for a while.

    Reply
    1. Sally
      April 29, 2013

      Thank you for your post. We are letting our foster to adopt daughter go to a new family. This is so difficult and I feel as I am letting God down and there is a certain amount of shame that comes with making this decision. We need to do what is best for our bio children. Your post gives me hope in such a difficult decision.

      Reply
  7. FosterCareQandA
    February 5, 2013

    My heart is in foster care rather than adoption, so my answer will be biased. But I'd try to approach it as a foster situation, rather than a potential adoption situation. I'd explain to the kids that we're going to provide a temporary home to a child for as long as they need a safe and loving place to stay. Down the road if adoption becomes a possibility, then you can discuss it at that time and give everyone in the family a vote in the matter of whether or not to make it permanent.

    Reply
  8. Eileen
    February 5, 2013

    With our first adoption, all 3 three of our biological kids were completely on-board. They could not wait. With our second adoption, even though their sister had been as easy an adoption as one could hope for, they knew from seeing others, that there can be some pretty tough trials. So when we raised the idea of a second adoption—well, more than raised the idea, we showed them a picture—our oldest, our 17 year-old son, was not necessarily excited. At that point, we hadn't committed, so we told the kids that we very much respected their opinions and wanted to hear their concerns, but ultimately it would be our decision. Our son shared with us his main concern–that he would be leaving home soon and that he wouldn't really get to know his brother (his ONLY brother!). He felt like he'd be kind of detached from the family. We reassured him that he would always be an irreplaceable part of our family, but that his role with this child would be a little different, just based on their age difference. He said that he still felt like he'd prefer that we not adopt, but that he would be supportive of whatever we decided. When we did decide to adopt this little boy, our son put on a happy face and never again mentioned his concerns about the adoption. I've appreciated that.
    When we considered a third adoption recently, this same son (now nearly 19) again had concerns. This time, however, his concerns were our concerns. He's personally struggling with depression and anxiety and we quickly realized that we needed to focus on the needs of our current children before adding anyone else. As the months since that decision was made have gone by, we've been thankful for the heavenly guidance we had to say no. His issues have escalated and it would have been extremely trying to deal with a new child in addition to his current challenges. Sometimes when a child brings up a concern, there's more than just "I'm not sure if I want another sibling now"; it's "I'm really struggling here and need your attention."

    Reply
    1. @mkgivler
      February 5, 2013

      "Sometimes when a child brings up a concern, there's more than just 'I'm not sure if I want another sibling now"

      That is profound. When my family started discussing adoption, I was one of the few children who was initially opposed (although I later "got on board" with the adoption). Until now, I had never connected my concern about adopting with the turmoil I was personally experiencing at that point in my life.

      Reply
  9. Laurel
    February 5, 2013

    First off . . . so sorry about the bummer of a phone call. I know all about those. When our Little Miss calls, we can most often hear the reluctance in her voice and our "conversations" are just one word answers to our questions. So hard. So sad. Our Residential Facility does not even recommend visits for the first 6 months, so we haven't been yet.

    Now for the Tuesday Topic:

    I would first off say, "Slow Down". You are saying that you have already started the process, while your son is totally against it? I believe this could seriously affect your relationship with your son for years to come. I would definitely take TIME to walk through the thought process with your son before a final decision is made to proceed. Pray with him. Share with him. LISTEN to him.

    That said . . . sometimes parents will make decisions that our children disagree with. But, sometimes we need to seriously take our child's thoughts/needs into consideration. Right now . . . my husband has spent a lot of time out of work the past 2 years. But . . . we are not looking "out of the area" because of how devastating it would be for our 16 year old daughter. Right now, he is willing to work "just any job" to pay the bills, rather than to pursue career types of jobs, because our child's needs are more important.

    The two failed foster/adoptions brings out many questions. Did they return to bio. families or did they just "not work out" with your family? If they returned to their bio. families, your son needs to understand that that is the nature of foster care. If they "did not work out" with your family, you must seriously take that into consideration when pursuing another adoption. We had 1 failed adoption, and we have a 2nd daughter in a Residential Facility. If we were to tell our kids that we were pursuing another adoption, I KNOW that the response would NOT be good. And, no matter how much "I wanted" another child, the needs of my current family must be taken into consideration.

    Reply
    1. DebiB
      February 5, 2013

      I agree! Eleven is a very big age for transition from childhood to the teen years. They may just be showing you how much they need you right now.

      Reply
  10. Sara
    February 5, 2013

    We are a foster to adopt family…currently in the middle of this situation. As much as we care for our foster daughter, it (adoption) has to be right for everyone, including our 3 bio children for us to proceed. We made that decision before we began the process. Our oldest wasn't very warm to the idea of fostering but he respected our decision to give it a try. Right now it's tough, not very warm and fuzzy between our bio children and our foster dot but we are continuing and our children are following our lead. It's not easy when your bio kids feel stress due to another child. At times I have the desire to return to "life as normal", yet I know God has called us to this journey. We continue to reassure ALL of them, we will do what is best for all of them. Most importantly, that they are all safe, healthy and happy (to some degree)! Hope that helps…

    Reply
  11. Kelsey
    February 5, 2013

    Our bio. children were fully on board with our adoption, and voluntarily read books on attachment and trauma, learned about black hair care, helped paint new bedrooms, gave their own toys, etc. Three difficult years later, we have angry, bitter, traumatized bio. kids whose dearest wish is to send their new siblings back to Africa. They were excited and supportive at first, but the reality of living with kids form hard places took all that excitement away within the first few days.

    Both my older children (14 and 16) are counting the days until they can move out of our home and away from their new siblings. Because we were so sure (and still are) that God was the one who was calling us to adoption, my bio. kids now have immense anger and bitterness towards a God who would "destroy" their family and allow this to happen. My oldest child no longer believes that God exists, and refuses to have anything to do with our church family, Christian friends, etc. Although I know that all things are for our benefit (2 Cor), and that God has chosen this path to produce the character of Christ in our bio. children, I can't express how much heartache this has brought to us.

    Our experience leads me to say that I would never take the step of fostering or adoption — steps that change the entire family dynamic — without the full agreement of all children currently in the home. If the situation becomes a difficult one, it could lead to much bitterness and anger in your son, and break down your relationship with him.

    Reply
  12. Flora
    February 5, 2013

    Interesting question!
    Well, I think my perspective on this has changed somewhat since actually bringing our daughter home. When we originally decided to adopt, my stance was more like, "we are the parents, we make the decisions, and we are blessing our children with another sibling." However, after bringing our daughter home, I have definitely seen just how dramatically a family is impacted by bringing in another child, especially an older child.
    I would even say, that as far as older child adoption goes, ours has been rather easy, and still my bio kids have had to endure some pretty intense stuff on a regular basis.
    If we were to ever do another adoption, I would now definitely take into consideration the concerns and worries of my other children. We are asking a great deal of them, even more than I ever thought!

    Flora

    Reply
  13. Sue
    February 5, 2013

    In our house, we have to have everyone's agreement to take another kid. We have 6 kids now, and if we were to adopt another, we would still have to have everyone's "buy-in" on doing it, parents and kids. There is just so much cost, so much work, so much sacrifice by everyone in the house, that we absolutely have to stay a team. The kids were all all for the adoptions we've already done, Getting them on board is super important, and it has ot be from the heart and unforced, in our opinion. We also know families where one parent was pushing and one was dragging hteir feet – or one sibling – and those families have not done well.

    Reply
  14. Jodi
    February 5, 2013

    We are in the process of becoming licensed again to foster/adopt. Our first go-round, our two biological children were all for it. This second time, our adopted daughter asked us to adopt again as well as one of our biological children (different conversations, different times, each by themselves). When the subject brought up with my son (the oldest), his immediate reaction was very negative. He is our child who has the greatest difficulty with change, and he also was the one who suffered the most hurt by our adopted daughter. I think getting their full perspective on why they're against the idea is important, but can be difficult to do. My son is not big on expressing himself. It ended up being something where my husband talked to my son about things, and eventually he came to me and told me he had changed his mind. It's been a few months and he is still on board with it… so the process has begun. Of course, now my husband and I are feeling trepidation — going through that whole adjustment process again… OY. And this time we're thinking about a teenager, not just an "older child." So we're assuming the whole experience will be quite different. Another adventure into the unknown… but letting God lead the way, so we know that ultimately He will keep us under his wing.

    Reply
  15. Rosie
    February 5, 2013

    The only way I have experienced foster care/adoption so far is as a sibling and I'd like to echo what many people have said here – if you choose to take on another child, it will have a huge impact on your biological children's lives and you will be asking for much sacrifice from them. So please please take their concerns and feeling into account. The final decision should be yours of course, because you will have final responsibility for a fostered/adoptive child – but your current children have valid concerns and they should be taken into account.

    From what I've seen in my family, this blog and others – behavioural and attachment issues seem to be the norm rather than the exception – especially when caring for children from 'hard places'. Your whole family needs to be prepared (well…as prepared as you can be!) to take that on. My disclaimer is that I am speaking as an adult child who was 18 when my parents began doing foster care and 22 when they took on a permanent placement. So it was easier for them to talk through the issues etc with me and my sisters. We were all very enthusiastic at the time, more so than my mum – clearly with no idea what we were in for!

    The other side of this argument is not to let your biological children push you into adoption or fostercare! Once again, the final responsibility will rest with you and you don't want to be in the situation of resenting your biological children for that, when it turns out to be harder than you or they anticipated.

    Reply
  16. Beth Templeton
    February 5, 2013

    Such an important issue. Our sense of it has been that our family is a team. That God does not call my husband and I to something and not call our children as well. When we enter into the adoption process, it is something God is doing in all of us, not just something the parents do while the children tag along, or not. I would definitely take your time as you proceed and really go after the issue in prayer. Pray together as a family often– it is absolutely amazing to see what God does through prayer that all of our talks and reasoned arguments can't do. We had a similar situation with our second adoption and really felt we needed to wait until our daughter was able to sense from the Lord for herself that God was calling us all to bring these boys home. This is a delicate line because I totally believe that we parents have the authority and responsibility to lead our children, and that we certainly do not hand that leadership over to the whims or fears of a child. However, in this case I do believe that leadership looks less like plowing ahead and more like patient shepherding, accompanied by believing prayer to change hearts. None of this time will be wasted either, as whatever fears your child has God is wanting to heal and set free!

    Reply
    1. Karen
      February 5, 2013

      Thank you, Beth. It is the "delicate line" that is causing us the most apprehension. My husband and I agree that we will pray and ask God to change his heart if we are to move ahead.

      Reply
  17. Michelle
    February 5, 2013

    Love Beth's answer! Our bio kids were excited when we adopted. I actually asked them a while back if they would adopt when they were grown. My 6 year old immediately answer "no way jose" and my 9 year old responded with "it is hard but worth it" to which the 6 year old said "okay…I would as long as they don't fight so much like C". 🙂 I believe firmly they both were called to this along with us as parents. The unconditional love they have show their sister has been key in her healing.

    The struggle is actually for our adopted daughter. When we went through re-licensing just to provide emergency respite this past fall, she got so angry. Even at 18, the fear for her of what this meant was overwhelming and she couldn't process it. Interestingly, it came out with her completely breaking down thinking she would have to give up her room. 🙁 I believe God may call us again to adopt but without a doubt, our adopted daughter will have to have her heart softened verses a survival response. She still struggles shaking what being in foster care meant and the many homes she was in that didn't want her.

    I believe God will work in awesome ways and make it clear when it is time through our kids being ready.

    Continue prayers for you Lisa. I have had so many drafted comments to send you that never get sent. So thankful for you and the example of humility and grace. Love to your family and Dimples.

    Reply
  18. Vertical Mom
    February 5, 2013

    I would definitely NOT move forward if any of my kids were not on board. We even took into consideration our 3 yo's personality. She would not do well with a baby taking my attention so we stipulated no kids under 2 yo. If a child was adamant about not adopting, then we would spend a lot of time in prayer with our child and as a couple, not trying to convince him or her, just praying. Only God can move hearts. It's important to listen to your child's concerns. He or she may have some very legitimate fears about the process and, before the adoptive child is in your home, your bio child takes precedent. I'm not saying that God doesn't call us to the hard thing or that your child isn't being overly fearful or that you should put your child's wishes above all else in life but if you move forward without working it through and achieving their consent, when the tough times come (and they will) they *will* throw it back in your face because they "never wanted this in the first place". Perhaps take a step back and do something with a smaller commitment to expose your child to children in need. Sponsor a child or volunteer with your kids at foster child events or take a family missions trip to an orphanage in another country. You never know what God might use to open your child's eyes. Let Him do the work of heart change.

    Reply
    1. Ellen
      February 5, 2013

      "Let Him do the work of heart change." Love that. Because He IS in that business.

      Reply
  19. karenpullin
    February 5, 2013

    Thank you, Lisa, for posting my question, and everyone else, for all of the replies. Let me say that this is a very difficult place to be in…feeling confident in what you know you are being led to do while knowing that one of the people most important to you is in opposition. All of our boys were adopted and we have had foster kids in our home, so they understand the concept and the challenges we will be facing. This may be part of the problem. When we began this process again, they were all in favor of moving ahead, as long as the plan was for adoption and not just foster care…they can't take the moving in and out. When we ask him why he's changing his mind, he says, "I just don't want to adopt anymore." The plan has always been to move very slowly and make sure that everyone is comfortable with the plan and the timing. My heart hurts knowing that even if he is completely ok with everything, at some point he may be hurt. I know that I will have to trust God to fill in the gaps and provide what we each need when we need it. Our greatest desire is that we would be able to protect our children and still be obedient to God's leading.

    Reply
  20. DebiB
    February 6, 2013

    Karen, I honor you for even considering the feelings of your child. I think it's so easy to go with just "we are the parents and this is what we decide". I respect your willingness to at least stop for a moment and ponder it all and pray about it…and ask for input! We have two bio boys who are now 18 and 15 1/2 and I know 11 was seriously the most difficult age for them. I think it's just that combination of kinda being a child and kinda wanting to be grown up. A transition year for sure, at least for us. 🙂

    I just want to encourage you that I think God takes us through seasons and maybe your son just needs something more from you in this season. Maybe he's walking through more of his own personal journey in healing right now. This I do know, if God has called you to more, He can be trusted to help your child 'get there' emotionally, too. 🙂

    I also don't blame him for not wanting 'foster kids'. It is so hard for us as adults to love and let go, let alone kids who can't fully grasp the reality of loving deeply and losing deeply.

    I will be praying for you for wisdom as you walk this out. I know God will perfectly lead your family!

    Reply
    1. Jennie
      July 11, 2013

      Hi
      Just happened to find this.
      I live in the UK and my husband and I first decided we wanted to adopt nearly 2 years ago. After a lot of set backs, and being let down by an agency, today we had a chat with our county council and had to explain our way through quite a negative reference from our past agency. We felt we did a good job in our explanations.
      This afternoon we saw a family who we have recently met who have a 7 year old and who have adopted a 2 year old. The adopted child is still is the early stages of adjustment and quite challenging but very sweet and funny. Our 5 and a half year old became instantly very protective of his territory, understandably! After they had gone he was absolutely adamant that he no longer wants a brother or sister. I am absolutely gutted, heart-broken and devastated. it has taken so much to get here and now don't feel we can really proceed if our son isn't on board.
      I like the way you talk about God on this site – wouldn't happen much on a UK site. But I talk to God about everything and he talks to me!

      Reply
  21. Lynny
    November 6, 2015

    Our 10 year old adopted at birth son is very hesitant about us adopting another child close to his age. We know this child he lived with us 2 years in foster care them went to a
    Relative and placement broke down. He's up for adoption, we want him but we want to respect how our son feels. Any suggestions? We've done a pros and cons list that he didn't have many cons. We think he just doesn't want us to be mom and dad to someone else. He's been our only child but we have done foster care his entire life from 3 days old so he's use to it. That's why we don't understand his reluctance to adoption.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

I accept the Privacy Policy