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Adoption Issues/International Adoption


My husband and I are in the process of adopting a sibling group of three from Ethiopia (5- and 12-year-old girls, and an 8-year-old boy). We also have five biological children (4-, 6- and 12-year-old daughters, and 8- and 10-year-old sons). I was wondering how we could make the transition easier for our family, since we're adopting out of birth order. All of our children were fine with it at first. But now, our eldest daughter is unsure about her similar-aged sister. She worries that we're going to favor her sister more than her, and is reluctant to share her room with her (even though there is no other choice of where she sleeps). Our other children have not expressed any negative emotions about the adoption just yet, but I'm worried that they might as were getting ready to bring our new children home. Should we homeschool our adoptive children before sending them to regular school, since children need time to bond with their adoptive family? Also, should we bring our biological children with us to Ethiopia to meet their siblings when we meet them and bring them home in October?
Thank You,

Hi Maria- I'm glad that you contacted me because you and your family are taking on a big burden. It is difficult to answer some of your questions, because I have only the limited information that you provided.  However, I would offer a few thoughts and responses to your questions.
I would urge you to immediately seek out a counselor/therapist who has worked in the adoption field and start meeting with her and your older children before you travel to Ethiopia to pick up the children.  That person will be in a much better position to interact with your 12 year old than I am and she can help all of you be better prepared for the arrival of the children.  She also could continue to work with the family after the new siblings arrive.  You did not describe your preparation process thus far, but my experience of multiple placements of older children is that you need to stay ahead of the curve.  I do not believe that the typical post-placement services will be sufficient. I also suspect that up to this point your 12 year old has not been as involved with the adoption process as he should have been and she needs to talk about her feelings.  By the way, to find a good counselor, you might contact the Tressler Lutheran agency in your State or the North American Council on Adoptable Children, in Minnesota.  
I would advise you and your husband to go to Ethiopia without the children primarily because you will want to focus on the adopted kids once you arrive.  It goes without saying that when you speak with the kids you will want to bring photos of your kids as well as your home and community and tell them all about their new siblings.  I also think you should send them to the local school where they will receive extra help as they learn to speak and understand spoken and English language.
Since you mention a plan to pick up the children in October, I wonder if that is too soon. Even with extra counseling in place, you and your family are taking on a tremendous burden and it is important to do as much as you can to lighten the load.
I know that there are many more questions that will have to be answered down the line, so feel free to contact me again.  Please note I will be unavailable from Sept. 7 to Oct. 6.


Adoption Issues

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Peter C. Winkler, CSW


I have experience with adoption subsidy, the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children and variety of other adoption related matters. I hope that I can be helpful to those who are considering adoption or would like to adopt a child.


I am a social worker with an MSW and I have over thirty years of experience in family and children's services. I have worked as Director of adoption services and of the Interstate Compact in a large state agency. I have also provided direct services to children and families in a preventive services program. I currently prepare adoption studies for those who are adopting domestically or internationally.

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