Take 2 – Adopting a second time around

If adopting the first child is a bachelor’s degree in Parenting, adopting your second could well be a Ph.D. Having spoken to several parents who have adopted more than one children, one common theme that stood out was that there was little common between the two experiences.

  • The first child came directly from an agency; the second child had to be referred by CARA…
  • The family was supportive in the first instance, they could not care less by the time we adopted another
  • Nobody understood us when we first adopted, most people around us were supportive and aware when we went for the second child
  • There was so much of resistance and questioning in adoption of our first child, all went silent the second time around
  • The first child came in under two weeks, the second took an year to come by…and so on

So what actually changes between your first adoption and the second – and are there really any surprises? Sure there are, and here are some pointers to how you can prepare yourselves better for T.A.K.E. 2

Regulations – There is nothing constant in this world, except change, and one thing that can change faster than you think is Regulations. In order to respond to changing demand supply situation, profile of parents and those of children available for adoption, new regulations may kick in, without many people knowing about them. Worse, people may be confused or spreading half-baked knowledge around them, especially on social media. Do not make assumptions.  Do not extrapolate your past-experience blindly to you next run. You may either be in for a rude shock, or miss privileges available to you, if you are not keeping pace with the law. Unfortunately, not many seniors in the social media groups too would have kept pace with changing laws, and are likely to advise form their own experience or extinct laws – much to your chagrin and disadvantage. Some examples that will change your response and the subsequent experience are:

  • No of referrals down from 3 children referred at a time to 1 child referred at a time – 2 months apart
  • Option to adopt a child from Immediate Placement category – without any wait
  • Ability to legally adopt your step children

Human Touch – With rising number of parents waiting to adopt and paucity of children available for adoption, chances are that most referrals are system generated and lack the human touch. Even if the overall process has not changed, people’s responses to situations may change. The level of details in Child Study Report or Medical Report may be different. The option to conduct additional medical diagnostics on the child, may or may not be available, the quality of health care at the agency may differ, or the counseling that was available before and after adoption, may vary. Even if you choose to adopt just a few months apart, you should factor the changes arising on account of different agency, local court, State intermediaries, and of course your own neighborhood, if you moved. This will dramatically affect your child’s development and growth. The environment available to your first child may be quite different from that to the second, if the human touch has changed substantially – in between the two.

Tools and Resources – With growth of social media, internet, alterative careers and published research, you are no longer as helpless, as you may have been when you adopted your first child. Your awareness, preparedness to support a differently abled child, acceptance of adoption in general, by the community – all may have changed for better, allowing you to make more informed and bolder choices. It may be easier to find a counselor, a special educator, a niche consultant or a specialist to support your needs in adoption, than before. It may embolden you to adopt a child now, even if you had a biological child earlier, or nudge you to adopt a differently abled child – something that you may not have even thought of before. With support of online communities, books, blogs and websites, you may expand your worldview and your own assessment of your capabilities.

Operational Efficiencies – One factor that you need to prepare well for the second time, is the overall process efficiency. The registration process, referral timeline, wait period for the child, documentation required at agencies, courts, due diligence for establishing the health of the child, transition issues, post adoption support – all could have changed. The reliance you could keep on a child study report provided by an adoption agency 3 years back, may be very different from the quality of documentation you get to see this time around. The grievance mechanism, CARA’s response time, corrective measures and the recourse available may be altogether new. The only way to mitigate these surprises is to network well with parents who may have adopted recently, avail counselling and closely follow media reports on recent adoption related issues. It is not uncommon to come across unforeseen situations and impact of unmanaged events like relocation, sickness, long ait at courts or bureaucratic delays, solely because parents extrapolated their past experience to the new one – some of which could have been calibrated.

Support system – Your own support system changes dramatically between the first adoption and the second. Even if the gap between the two children is small. The mere presence of an older child, and on most occasions who is also aware of her own adoption story, makes it easier to bond and settle the second child. If your previous experience was challenging, chances are you are more empowered and wiser to respond to similar situations now. Only if you have relocated, passed through a milestone or encountered a family event that has affected you significantly, may your ability be drastically different. In such cases, accord preference to settle down in your new environment, before adding another variable of second adoption.

Your first child – the most important factor to influence your second adoption experience will be your older child. Even if you thought of adopting two children initially, you may consider stopping at first, if your first adoption story has been overwhelming. Conversely, you may have never thought of adopting two children, but your experience with the first child may prompt you to go for the second one. How you raise you first child and her acceptance of adoption over the years will determine your readiness to adopt the second child. You may even swap genders, age groups, child category etc., depending upon your brus with adoption at the first instance.

It is your personal decision to adopt one or more children. But you need to be aware of changes within you, in your family, in your immediate environment, adoption guidelines, operational efficiency of participating actors, larger resources available and your own outlook on adoption before taking the second plunge.