Tuesday's Answers: Not Quite Yet

I should be posting the responses to the Tuesday Topic today, but I’m not quite ready. First of all, my big kids told me I need to change the format because the answers are too lengthy. Mimi had the audacity to tell me that she practically quit reading my blog because she didn’t like wading through the long posts. I haven’t wanted to leave any comments out, but I agree that I need to find a better way to present the answers. I may try posting excerpts from everyone (along with photos of the writers, etc.) and leave the full responses in the comments section. Once my new blog site is done, this won’t be an issue.

Second, I haven’t gotten many responses to this week’s question. It can be a very challenging question and some of us may be shying away from tackling it. I haven’t written my answer yet. I urge you to reply if you have a response to offer Dianne. Russ said he might even write his thoughts and by giving everyone a few more days, I hope there will be more responses. Dianne, if you read this, I have gotten one personal reply for you, so please email me at: thankfulmom[at]gmail[dot]com

Here is Dianne’s question again:

We are feeling led to adopt an “older” (ie – school aged) child into our family, which currently consists of myself, my husband and our 1.5 year old daughter, and would like to go into this decision with as much information and preparedness as possible. We know that older adopted children will not inherently cause unsafe situations for the younger ones, but want to still be prepared for this possibility, and are aware that the grief and trauma they may experience on their journey could manifest in ways that could create an unsafe situation for our younger daughter.

My question is: how have other families prepared to meet the needs of an older child coming into the family, and what have they done to be ready to also protect the best interests of younger children in the household? If they felt there was the potential that they could be creating a less safe situation for their younger child, are there specific ways that they prepared for this?

We love our daughter devotedly, and despite feeling strongly called to adopt an older sibling for her, feel conflicted when thinking about the potential that this could potentially put her in a risky situation.

Please leave your thoughts in the comment section.

The other reason I’m not ready to post the answers is that I am super busy packing to leave for Seattle this evening. Tomorrow is the Race Against HIV/AIDS at Overlake Christian Church in Bellevue, WA. My friend, Michele, and I are driving over with Ladybug, Honeybee, Dimples, and Boo. Sweet Pea is going to meet us at the race in the morning. After the race we’ll spend the rest of the weekend seeing Seattle and having fun. Monday morning Dimples has her appointment with Deborah and then we’ll head back home.

Have a great weekend everyone. Thank you so much for reading my blog and for learning along with me.


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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. Chris
    October 9, 2009

    I can't answer this, but am interested as we are in the process of adopting a 9 y.o., he will fit right in the middle , youngest of the boys and older than the girls.

    We are feeling our way here , feel God is doing the leading…any tips on how to make this work I would love to read them

  2. Jillian and Crew
    October 10, 2009

    This is a hard one because you almost feel "exposed" by answering it.
    Things we did in prep for our older boys coming into our home while having 2 younger girls already at home:
    1) baby monitors in every room
    2) no closed door policy
    3) Teach about privacy and safe touching from DAY ONE.
    4) Boys bathroom and girls bathrooms are seperate and they are NEVER allowed to use each others.
    5) one person in the bathroom at a time-even with double sinks
    6) we added bells to the doors(jingle bells, out of reach)
    7) all kids ask permission to go to the bathroom, not so we can so NO, so we can KNOW where they went.
    8) motion detector in a specific area of the house as needed at night
    9) traveling saftey deemed nec…such as any of the above to make a hotel room safe.

    So far, so good. We have not had any sexual issues come up-we have delt with some light violence that is mainly targeted at the adopted sibling and the female parent.

  3. christall
    October 11, 2009

    We brought our 8-year-old daughter home from Ethiopia about a month ago. She joined our biological 8-year-old daughter and my husband and I.

    As a person with a background in Family Therapy I *think* I did a fair job of preparing my daughter here at home for the changes that would come when bringing Ava home. Having said that, we were not prepared – and truthfully, I don't think you can ever really *be* prepared for how things will work out.

    Sure my daughter had done the role-playing with me, we'd read (A LOT of) books, we talked to other families who have adopted older children, she talked with the siblings of older adopted children (without me there to direct the conversations – so she could ask anything and get candid answers)… we were really as prepared, "in theory" as we could have been.

    We spoke about good touching/bad touching… How mom/dad would be watching both of them more closely that our bio-daughter was used to – just so we could pick up on things that might not be right… we talked about the cultural differences between US and Ethiopia – how her dad and I shelter her from all things we deem to be inappropriate but that in Ethiopia often times children see things that *we* don't think are appropriate (whether that be physical, emotional, verbal…)

    I will continue to be vigilant in watching the girls, I will continue to them, continue with all of the things we did to prepare for Ava coming home… I will continue to work on communicating with both girls – so that if something does happen they feel safe coming to me with it.

    Nobody can predict if/when something bad will happen and we can't live our lives afraid of that. If you are hearing the call to adoption, and are specifically hearing the call to adopt an older child – I hope you listen. Then do the very best job you can to prepare yourself and your children. Truly – that is the best you can do. (in my opinion)


  4. Michelle Riggs
    October 11, 2009

    You are tackling tough topics, but I love reading what you are writing.

    I hope you take lots of pictures at the race.

  5. Michelle Riggs
    October 11, 2009


    Your girls hairstyles are beautiful!

  6. Ann
    October 12, 2009

    I am glad to have more time to comment 🙂 I often see the question but need time to think about my answer because they are usually heavy questions. Then, when I go back to comment it is too late 🙂 Maybe leave a little more time for comments? Then again, maybe I am the only one who feels this way? I will try to come up with my response on this one as I have been pondering it.

  7. Mamita J
    October 12, 2009


    You ask a big question. 🙂

    I have some little answers.

    Our daughter came home as the youngest in the family at age 4.5, so I can't really speak to that, but she came home so traumatized that it did throw our whole family into a tailspin. We are dealing with a lot of junk that an older adopted kid might come home with.

    First of all, you need to be prepared, or at least have some idea of what you might be facing, and some idea of how you would handle it. Read the hard books. Lisa has a list on one of her posts. Read them, and think to yourself, "What if?" "How would I handle this?"

    Second, prepare the kids at home for the possibility of an unpleasant homecoming. This child may not be the ideal sibling to your well-balanced kids at home (at least in their mind). It is very traumatizing to witness what kids from hard places do. It causes trauma in your birth kids. Then, all those parenting skills used for the hard kids are needed on your soft kids. I hope that makes sense.

    Third, prepare your home. Your new child needs a very "little world". Do not start with a bedroom full of stuff (or a house full of stuff). Two outfits that are accessible (the rest of the clothes should be somewhere else until you see how they handle things), the bedclothes and one toy is about all you need. You can add stuff as your child begins to regulate. I would not allow a new older kid to share a room with a younger sibling until I had a firm understanding of the trauma you are dealing with. Also, you may need to childproof your home. We had to lock all the doors to the bedrooms, because our daughter would sneak in and trash the older kids' rooms. We locked the basement and she was not allowed down there until she was regulated enough to not trash everything (about 4 months).

    Phew! Having said all that, if God is calling you to adopt an older child, and you have prayed about it and you are sure…run, dont' walk to the agency that you have thoroughly researched, and sign up. You will not find a more incredible picture of God's redemptive plan. Hang on to your hat. It's a wild ride, full of hope and despair, sacrifice and reward, grief and recovery. I wish all the best to you. God is bigger than your child's pain.

    In Christ,

  8. Jon and Jamie
    October 13, 2009

    I will try to tackle this one a bit, as we adopted a 4.5 year old and her 2.5 year old brother, while already having a child in the house(slightly older, but some things still translate the same) We did prepare our bio daughter for the possibility that she might feel encroached upon, crowded, slighted etc before we travelled, and reassured her it would all get better in time, as your baby is young this is not the issue, but still remembering it will get better in time does help! We did monitor the kids very closely for a long period, as our adopted daughter is much bigger and stronger than her older sister, so this was a concern to me, but never an issue, I was the target of the anger and angst, not the other kids(my son hated me for a while too) . Having a place I knew my bio daughter could go was crucial to me, someone to take her if it got crazy or too much at home, and knowing that who I called would not question me, but come straight away, we never used this option but having the contingency was crucial for my peace of mind. In my experience, limited to myself and friends, shows that the majority of the anger comes directed toward the parents, and the hurt feelings and jealousy are directed toward the already existing kids, so making sure that the new family member knows that the family is a unit, you cannot pick and choose members to keep/like, is really important, and modeling this is critical for a long time. Also I did not realize how long the process of intermingling the families could take, it seemed easy at first, but got harder a few months in when the honeymoon was over, so prepare to step back into battle again as time goes on.
    For me, realizing that my bio daughter knew and felt loved by me and my hubby allowed me to spend most of my energy and focus on the 2 new kids, and really teach them about our family. They found their own footing within the kids end of the family quickly, just as kids do on the playground with a new bunch of friends, and so by standing by and referring when necessary, and providing support and language to help them navigate their new life, we managed to coem out on the other side happy and healthy. the other day our eldest started to cry when she tried to imagine her life without out her little sister and brother, and your baby will never manage to imagine her life without her older sibling either soon enough.
    Also in my limited experience you may find that your new child, if adopted from Ethiopia, may be more adept with your baby than with you, as family is a huge supportive network and the bigger kids do a lot of work to keep the little ones safe and fed, sad but a reality of their loves, we had to force our daughter to let me care for her bio younger brother, when she accepted me as his mommy she was able to become a lovely little girl eager to learn, and boy at that age they learn so fast, it is amazing to see the changes every week.
    Good luck and God bless, Jamie


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