I had always planned on adopting more than one child. So when my son was in elementary school, I began looking into adopting a daughter. “One of each,” I thought, would complete my family. Then life took some unexpected turns, and it was more than 10 years later that I felt ready to adopt again.
At the age of 47, I adopted my daughter, who had just turned two. Her first word was “Baba,” for brother, and, although she and my son are 12 years apart, they share a close bond. Because of their age difference, I may have missed some of the sibling rivalry (that’s debatable), but I also missed out on some family moments. My daughter was still drinking from a sippy cup when my son was thinking about college. Of course, as it turned out, I’m glad I have the two children I have.
Adding to Your Family
Most singles who adopt dont wait as long as I did to add to their family. Like many couples, they begin their road to parenthood with an image of what their ideal family would look like. Perhaps they knew from the beginning they only wanted one child. As one parent said, I have always enjoyed being the mother of one. I can’t imagine how I would deal with another child—financially or emotionally. Some parents decide how many children they will adopt after they have parented for a while, and others have always envisioned a larger family.
Lucy, a single mom of one, agonized over whether to adopt again. “After I adopted my daughter,” she said, “as happy as I was, and as much as I adored her, I wondered whether my family was complete.” Lucy added that her daughter’s desire for a sibling was hard to resist. But she worried that a second child might not be as easy as her first, and she knew how difficult it would be to find child care for two children when she had to travel for work. “Things were going well, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to disturb that balance,” Lucy said.
Single parents often worry that an only child suffers emotionally without sibling relationships. But research has shown that this is not the case. Only children are as well-adjusted as children with siblings. Don’t bring a child home only for what he may bring to a sibling. Although your son longs for a sibling, you are the one who will be changing the diapers, helping with homework, and on call 24/7.
Unlike Lucy, Mary, a mother of three, knew she wanted more than one child. “My siblings were a big part of my life, and even though my kids squabble, they love each other. And they can be allies against my parental decisions. It gives me comfort to know that, when I’m not around, they have each other.” As Mary found, a second child can ease the intensity of being a single parent. “As a teacher, I knew that money would be tight and that my life would be harder,” she admitted, “but I didn’t want to look back and say, I wish I had done this.”
Questions to Ask
There is no easy way to make such decisions. It’s important to look carefully at your situation. If you added to your family, how would you deal with the increased financial demands? And do you enjoy the hubbub of a busy family, its noise and tumult? Could you handle the competing demands of more than one child? Would another child make you feel that your family is complete, or would something still be lacking?
It is also important to remember that when we bring a new child into our family, we are reordering the family system. Change, even positive change, can be stressful. In the end, you’ll know what makes a family complete for you, and whether another child is the answer. Lucy, after much thought, decided not to add to her family. Instead, she expanded her social circle and joined a local church. Mary, on the other hand, loves the chaos in her toy-filled home, and couldn’t imagine life any other way.