Tuesday Topic: Working Parents and Adoption

This week’s Tuesday Topic is from Kathryn who wrote,

My husband and I are in process of adopting – hopefully 2 – children and are running into some problems with our social worker.  I am a teacher and right now I’m unable to quit work to take care of the kids full-time.  Our social worker would like us to commit to staying home for 6 months after we bring them home in order to facilitate bonding.  While we are working to see how we can make that happen for 3-3.5 months on 1 salary, we are seeking advice from other adoptive parents who have adopted more than 1 kid and where both parents work.  Do you have any advice?

Any thoughts? I’m sure you have some, so please take a moment and leave them for Kathryn. I will post your comments on Friday, August 20th.

Encourage one another,

~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.

16 Comments

  1. Ann Marie
    August 17, 2010

    We have adopted three times. The children were 13 months, 19 months and recently a 5 year old all from China. I have worked after all the adoptions after my adoption leave. I think the key is to have the same caregiver while you are away at work (not a large number of rotating people) and to have that caregiver educated (in our case we did this) about our child's adoption history and adoption related behaviors. We really have had no problems. I know that the textbooks say to be home for 6 months to 1 year after adoption. That is great if you can do it. Many can't (I would think most can't). If your social worker is not supportive I would find one who is. Some social workers are more practical and others are more idealistic. If you feel God is calling you to a sibiling group then move forward in faith.

    Reply
  2. Jane
    August 17, 2010

    We adopted 2 children last year. I was working 3 days/week at the time and I actually went back to work sooner than I was planning because we NEEDED more structure. We already had 2 children at home and with all of us under emotional stress no one really liked being home and I was struggling to implement a routine. It allowed us time to get into routines, get used to our new family life, etc. My oldest children are now in school and I am actually working just a few hours a week from home. And now that things have settled down a bit, we can focus more on bonding and attachment work. As you are a teacher, I imagine you will have some school breaks throughout the year where you can give more focus to bonding and attachment than you are able to during the working week. You may want to consider what if your child/ren can't handle being in a structured environment like school or daycare all day and it makes life at home worse too? You will find a way. Good luck! And remember, you can trust God to provide all that you need for your family. He will lead you in the right direction.

    Reply
  3. amy
    August 17, 2010

    I think that bonding time is irreplaceable. If adoption is what you really want to do, it may be worth it to make every sacrifice to make the first 6 months happen. I know its a hard line, but it is something I wouldn't go without after adopting one very well adjusting child.

    Reply
  4. bonnie
    August 17, 2010

    I am wondering how old the kids are you are thinking about? and what your daycare plan would be? perhaps if you could swing 3-4 months home and then if they are small have a nanny come into the home rather than going to a center that would help, and if the kids are school age maybe they could go to your school – that would help. Also is there any chance your husband could work flex time to be home early if that would reduce the amount of child care needed.

    Adopting 2 at once is more than double the work… I imagine your social worker is just wanting to be sure you have a good plan for handleing it. If you already have kids in the home you have some idea what you are getting into – but if you don't have kids already your SW is probably concerned that you don't get in over your head.

    Reply
  5. Nancy
    August 17, 2010

    I think I'm gonna say something really unpopular. So I'm only going to tell of my experiences.
    We had 4 biological children, then adopted 2 wonderful, gorgeous, 12-month-old children at once, one with minor special needs, and one not that turned out to have far more, longer lasting needs (cognitive, emotional, delays…) than the other.
    We went into international adoption with our eyes wide open, at least as open as they could be for 2 PAPs that had never adopted before. We took classes. We read countless books. We asked a lot of question, including the hard ones. I journaled, and I talked about every possible problem under the moon with both dh, our caseworker, and other APs.
    Then we got our children. The adjustment was intense to say the least. It was different than any scenario I could have imagined. We immediately contacted professionals. Some were helpful. Others were not. I quickly learned that even with the best support system, my husband and I were in this alone with our children. And for as difficult as it was for us, it was much much harder for our children. Night terrors, institutionalized autism, malnutrition, surgery, health insurance problems, a therapist that asked us if we wanted to consider disrupting our adoption, another caseworker that looked into institutionalization of our baby, (neither of which we wanted or would even consider) a child that not only didn't love us, but didn't want to love or care for anyone or anything except for the texture on the wall. Almost 2 years of 8 therapy sessions a week. This became my full time job. 2 years later, both our hilren continue to heal, and now smile, and I'm starting to feel some normalcy, or at least our version of normalcy.
    I think and hope that we are the exception. But the more I expose myself to other APs, the more I learn that the unexpected during that transition from orphan to loved son/daughter, is very consistent. In hind site, I couldn't have done what I needed to do with a full time job. Increased caregivers, and less time with me (even my husband took a back seat to parenting our daughter as she needed to focus on attaching to only one person) would have compounded the problem. We still don't know if our full-time efforts were enough. But looking back, I do know that I've given it all the time I had to give, and that in itself has to be enough.
    IMHO I think most adopted kiddos should do well after 3-31/2 months full time with their new parents. But be prepared for the unexpected, be flexible, and have a back up plan in case your children need you full time

    Reply
  6. Kayla
    August 17, 2010

    My husband and I are both teachers (elementary level). I decided before our son came home that I would stay home. We have two adopted children who came home at 2.5 and 3, with the first coming home a year before the second. Both of our kids were relatively well settled after 3 months (which would be the equivalent of the 12 week leave FMLA provides). But that said, I am thankful that I didn't have to return to work. That doesn't mean it can't work for others. One thing I think I would ask myself if we continued to have two people work outside the home is "what is our plan if this doesn't go smoothly?" There is always the possibility that you may have a child who really does require a stay at home parent, homeschooling, etc..

    Reply
  7. Kayla
    August 17, 2010

    Sorry to be so long but I apparently am too long winded and needed to split this up…One option I might suggest to you is what I am currently doing: plan to stay home but plan to substitute. I was able to stay home for 6 full months with each child and then return to subbing once things had settled down. Subbing gives you a lot of flexibility of schedule; I currently am only available to sub 4 days ouf of the week and will only accept 3 sub jobs a week. In our district, subbing pays pretty well-over $120 a day which beats any part time job I could probably find anywhere else plus it keeps my foot in the door with the school district should I decide to return to teaching. I totally get that subbing isn't the same (and with back to school stuff going on, I feel those pangs of wishing I had a room) but I know it's probably for a season and that at some time, I'll probably get back into a classroom as a full time teacher.

    Reply
  8. sandee
    August 17, 2010

    I have four children,…two home grown and two adopted. I did not adopt my two at the same time,….however, as a single mom, I had other challenges to hurdle. With my first adoption, I could only stay home 6 weeks…with the second I was blessed with 12 weeks… My first daughter was adopted at 3 years old, my seond at 10 years old.

    I can tell you…after the 12 weeks I have spent at home, we are all looking forward to the structure of school for our family. I know many homeschool, but for me that is not an option and for my chldren, their Christian school is a blessing that has come along side, as I parent our family.

    Reply
  9. sandee
    August 17, 2010

    part 2: (sorry so long)
    I think ,as Lisa and others have posted in the past, both parents and chldren can benefit form a little break from each other in the midst of all the intensity of bonding. With a good school, or preschool, or day care, your child can benefit from the structure of the class setting and snuggle more deeply into the 1:1 or in my case 4:1 time with just family. I had a hard time with my first adoption, due to a social worker that was not open to a working parent. But it worked out in the end…and both my daughters are happy for their school time and momma for her "respite" time at work.

    It is the mechanics of how many families have to work….families come in all different patterns…and insisting a child can only bond if a parent is present 24 X7 for 6 months would leave a lot of little children without forever families. Also…your social worker can recommend her view, but in the end, you are the parent…and even if you plan on staying home longer, it may be, when your family is united, you find you need to adjust the plan to meet the needs of all the family members.

    Reply
  10. shannon
    August 17, 2010

    I would first check with your school to see if they would even allow you to do this, if you havent already. If they will allow you the time off then you CAN do it. I dont know how long you do have until your babies arrive, but you can start to cut back on everything. This is, of course, assuming that you dont already do this. I am just going to guess that you have about 6 months to go….do not buy anything that you absolutely do not have to have. Turn your ac up 3 degrees. Eat leftovers. Cut coupons, buy only sale items, get rid of cable, subscriptions…nothing extra for this time. Dont drive unless it is necessary. You can also sell stuff on ebay or etsy. I just decided to sell our little girls’ clothes that she has outgrown and am making about $75/week doing this and it takes about two hours tops per week. Have some sort of fundraiser….sell baked goods at your farmer’s market or whatever you want, walk dogs etc….and let people know why you are doing it. I think most people would want to contribute to help you and your future children. Good luck!

    Reply
  11. Our Private Quarters
    August 18, 2010

    Ohhh.. I can't wait to read the comments on this one as I will probably have this issue as well (whenever I go back to work). My question to tag along with this one would be: if you are adopting from foster care, does it make sense to wait to move the children to their new home AFTER school as ended and not in the middle of the school year? I know may not always be possible but with internet and phone and perhaps visits in-between it would seem to help ease the transition…just thinking things through.

    Reply
  12. Leah
    August 18, 2010

    A few months ago I would have thought 3 months was enough and working and raising "kids from hard places" was totally due able. Now that I'm elbow deep in the "raising" phase of life, I would say that 6 month of at least one parent at home full time is a MINIMUM. I worked full time with a live in nanny when our first child came home 3 years ago. Our attachment suffered and we are still working to pick up the pieces. There is a window of opportunity. Now or latter is not an option…it really is now or never. Our oldest arrived home 3 months ago (6 years old from Ethiopia). Her need is great and it is totally critical that not only I stay home full time but also my Mom moved in with us to help full time. Attachment, trauma, grief are BIG and need a full time, nurturing parent. Adopting two children at once is HARD work. You will be double tired, double taxed, double everything. Your children will NEED you like you have never been needed before. I would wait until you can take those 6 month or more off from work to stay home full time. Set yourself up to be successful and give the best opportunity to your kids. Best of luck!

    Reply
  13. Amanda
    August 19, 2010

    My husband works full time and I am finishing my undergrad full time. I have summers with the kids so we timed our adoption of our two daughters (12rs and 7rs) so that they would get here during the summer. It has worked out very well and school has been a welcome break for all of us from being together 24/7. We voiced our concern over our busy lives and the social worker at our agency told us that the kids would have to learn at some point that when we left, we always came back. It's been a smooth transition and bonding experience so far and they have been home for about two months.

    Reply
  14. Michelle
    August 20, 2010

    I am 100% against requiring new adoptive parents to have one parent home for any set amount of time. You may get your new children home and decide that you have to have a parent home indefinitely, you may find that you are fine staying home for one month. I have adopted twice and had 2 bio children and each child needs different things.
    My point is that for a social worker to mandate a period of time you have to take off to approve your homestudy is unrealistic. I think that being able to provide 3 months off is more than enough. You will know once your children get home what YOU need to provide them as parents and you will figure out a way to meet their needs.
    I have always hated arbitrary rules like that one…my biggest point is that no situation or child fits into this kind of cookie cutter rule.
    By the way, I have a friend who is a single mother and adopted 2 young children internationally at one time and went back to work the next week and they have not had any bonding issues.

    Reply
    1. Stuart
      October 13, 2015

      Thank you Michelle for your common sense we are trying to adopt and find it unrealistic for one of us to take 6 months off work. I work from home and would be expected to take a child to school do no work during the day and pick up the child from school, my argument with social worker's is that I can work during the day while a child is at school so no need to take 6 months off.

      Reply
  15. Sarah
    November 21, 2016

    I am just returning back to work next month after adopting my little girl… I can honestly say I am not ready to leave her, we have built a strong bond over the last 8 months and if I could I would take off the full year… the settling in process is a bit of a rollacoaster and over this time every week/month our bond has deepened more and more… as a single adopter I have no second wage coming in and have had to save to allow me to have this time… if I regret anything it is that I didn’t save more so I could have more time will her… before she came i assumed i would want to return to work after 4/5 mths and definately want to go back after 6… this has certainly not been the case… your child will turn your world upside down in the most wonderful way…. and life will never be the same again 🙂 my advice is try hard to save as much as you can whilst your waiting… even if you wish to return to work after 6mths you’ll have extra.saved for a holiday or something else… if u don’t want to return you’ll have the cash buffer you need to let you enjoy this time with your new best mate 🙂 xx

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

I accept the Privacy Policy