Adoption Blog: Melting Pot Family

Why Adopt When You Have Biological Children?



"Why did you choose to adopt?" Since adopting our daughter from Ethiopia, I've been asked this question with some frequency—probably because I also have two biological sons. When people ask about how we chose to grow our family, I don’t have a simple answer.

my kids

When my first son was born, I thought he was absolutely perfect. (I know, what mom doesn’t think that about her kid?) And frankly, I wasn’t sure I wanted more children. My husband, on the other hand, was sure we should have two. His sister is much younger than he is, and I think he missed having a close sibling and didn't want our son to lose out in the same way. When my eldest was 3, my thinking changed. With a little gentle nudging from my spouse, we decided to add child number two to our family.

Once I had my second son--born on his brother’s fourth birthday--I was sure we were supposed to have three. I still recall a bright sunny day in June when I was playing with my 6-month-old. He was a butterball with such an amazingly sunny disposition that my friends called him "hunk of baby love." I was holding him above my head and looking into his big, liquid brown eyes with impossibly long lashes when it felt like I was hit with a thunderbolt. He can't be my last! I thought. There is one more child in our future.

At different times over the subsequent years, my husband and I discussed adoption as a way to continue to build our family. We liked the idea of helping a child who needed a family. We gravitated toward international adoption since our heritage is already multicultural. However, when my sons were 3 and 7, I was diagnosed with a serious illness. Our focus turned to dealing with that and protecting my sons from the scary maelstrom that accompanied--surgery, doctor’s appointments, waiting, hoping, and worrying.  

Six months later, I was laid off when my company merged with another. Within a few months, with the worst of my health issues addressed, I was moving with the boys across the country after landing a great job in a distant city. My husband stayed behind for the first 10 months. Once reunited, we focused on bringing stability and peace back to our family after reeling from all the change. Adoption still whispered to me, but there were louder voices--my job responsibilities, the boys’ increasingly active school and sports routines, adjusting to a different part of the country and a new family routine after months of living in multiple states--demanding my attention.

We settled into a routine after a period and again began discussing adoption. But life intervened with another medical scare, which caused us to put our adoption plans back in limbo. But this time, the thoughts of adopting would not be relegated to whispers. Instead, they were like the loud, persistent ping ping of water hitting a metal sink from a faucet that has not been completely turned off.

My life motto has always been "No regrets." I can accept failure, although obviously it is not my preference. But regret is different. I didn’t want to wish I had taken the risk or made the choice after those options were gone. I wanted to avoid that hopeless, helpless feeling if at all possible. I asked myself, “If we don’t pursue adoption and try to get our little girl, will I regret this later?" 

As I reflected on this inquiry, I fast-forwarded in my mind to my later life. I imagined my boys grown with their own families. I imagined thinking back to this time and this decision. I felt the searing sting of regret when I contemplated the hole in my heart where my daughter, our third child, was supposed to be. I had my answer. Although I knew there was no certainty we would get the outcome I desired, I believed we needed to start down the adoption path. The decision gave me peace.

Obviously, we know how things turned out (although as I blogged previously—my health history led us down a different path than we originally planned for ourselves). We recently celebrated our daughter's third birthday at a local Ethiopian restaurant. The picture above was taken outside with my two youngest. She has brought amazing joy to our family.

If you're a biological parent who has also adopted, what made you decide adoption was the right path for your family? Tell us by leaving a comment below.


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15 Comments

We had our beautiful baby girl in 2006, and promptly decided we were “one & done.” While we had discussed adoption early in our relationship, we were feeling the stress of being new parents. While my pregnancy was picture-perfect (not even any morning sickness!), her birth left a lot to be desired. I ended up receiving an emergency c-section. The first year & a half of our daughter’s life was filled with projectile vomiting (we found out 6 months after her birth that she had somewhat severe reflux).

When our daughter was 3 years old, I began feeling a pang of yearning for another child, but I never confessed the feeling to my husband. We’d made an agreement, right? That’s why I was shocked one day while getting the mail, to find a huge packet of information from an adoption agency. My husband had sent away for it.

Fast-forward a year & a half later, and we have been home now for 3 weeks with our son adopted from China!! We couldn’t be happier! And we’re even contemplating going back again for another child in the future!!

By aleigh220 on Friday, June 10, 2011 at 6:58 pm.

I don’t really remember when we first began our adoption discussion, but it was before our first child was born. But then I got pregnant and a few years passed. We were happy, and busy, and one was enough for my husband. But I was wanting a baby, and our daughter, now 4, was asking for a baby sister, and family conversations often turned to “another one”. Then the only real hold-back was me, mid-thirties and not wanting to experience the whole birth process again. (The pregnancy, birth, and first several months were not the “dream in soft-focus” I had imagined.) Adoption had been mentioned but the whole process seemed too daunting…until a friend of the family adopted a girl from Russia. I contacted her, and it only took one conversation with her, and between our family to say “yes”! It has felt like the perfect decision ever since. The month we submitted our application our daughter was born, and brought home from Russia 16 months later. As she enters kindergarten in a few months, I often reflect back on our decision. At the time, I had the sense of “carpe diem” but I didn’t know back then how perfect it would turn out. I feel so blessed to have experienced motherhood from two directions, and am left with awe for the miracle of mother-love. I thought when I started the adoption process, years later I would be able to define how birthing a child felt more “organic”. But now I know that I was as naive when I began my adoptive motherhood as I was when I began my biological motherhood.

By Mommyof2cinderellas on Friday, June 10, 2011 at 9:30 pm.

Thank you Ellenore for sharing . . . we too gravitated towards international adoption, particularly Latin countries, since my husband is of Mexican descent.  So, when the agency we liked had a Guatemala program . . . and our bio son was already speaking Spanish at home it facilitated both our travels to Guatemala and our daughter’s adjustment once home.  In terms of adoption being the right path after having a biological child . . . I just always knew I wanted to adopt . . . and we knew of many blended families for different reasons so while we knew it was perhaps a more unusual path, we were hardly the first people to take it!

By Laura S. on Saturday, June 11, 2011 at 3:45 am.

aleigh220,

Congrats on your new son.  You will need to post some pics of both kids some time soon. 

I love that your husband and you were on the same wave length both with the second kid and the adoption route!

btw - I love having three if you decide that is right for your family,

Best,

E

By Ellenore Angelidis on Saturday, June 11, 2011 at 8:34 am.

Mommyof2cinderellas,

Great name!! 

Thanks for sharing how hearing from someone who had been there helped you make the decision.  I know that is true for many and certainly I was inspired by friends and family who had adopted before.  It is one of the reasons I share our family’s experience.

Carpe diem is a great way to describe that “no regrets” desire.  I also have, through becoming a mother through biology and adoption, had to rethink a number of things I thought I knew.

E

By Ellenore Angelidis on Saturday, June 11, 2011 at 8:38 am.

Laura S,

You are so welcome! 

I loved that language was a common denominator to weave your family cultures together!  Beautiful . . and inspiring.  Thanks for sharing.

E

By Ellenore Angelidis on Saturday, June 11, 2011 at 9:26 am.

Were you only open to a little girl?

By adoption_mama on Monday, June 13, 2011 at 4:43 pm.

I always pictured myself with 2 sons and a daughter. My husband and I each only have one sibling and since all four of our parents came from big families ranging from 4 to 9 kids, we each felt we should have had at least one more sibling growing up and each had fond memories of holidays with all our cousins at extended family events.

After having two healthy sons, but complicated pregnancies, the dream of having a daughter seemed to be just that…a dream.

Our jobs had become very demanding, the cost of childcare was astronomical, and the thought of another complicated pregnancy, which may or may not have resulted in a daughter, didn’t seem worth the risk.

By the time things finally seemed settled enough to add to our family, our sons were 7 and 9 and having a baby no longer seemed to make sense. They would be so far apart in age and the chances that a pregnancy would be complicated was nearly a definite just given my age alone. We liked the idea of adopting an older child, feeling it would be a better fit for our family and knowing there are so many older children who need homes. We also went with Russia and found an adorable little girl who was a year younger than my youngest bio son. However, when we arrived in Russia, we learned she was actually part of a sibling group and had an older twin brother and sister. It was messy and took 5 years to get everyone together, but ultimately we adopted all three. They are all teenagers now and are 13, 14, 17 and the twins are 18.

So my wanting a “daughter” turned into having two of them and another son! Sometimes I am talking to a new mom about a birth, nursing or baby story and I will mention one bio son, then the other, then say “and with my younger daughter…” and then remember I didn’t give birth to her! With my adopted son, I didn’t know if it would truly feel the same since I had bio kids the same gender. As it turned out, my heart can’t tell the difference there either. smile

It’s literally a handful, but most days, we’re having a blast and can’t imagine it any other way! I also feel very blessed to have experienced becoming a parent “both ways”, sometimes I wish every parent could have that experience…but in the end, parenting is parenting…no matter how your children become a part of you.  Love truly is an amazing thing beyond our understanding!

By wishnkrols on Monday, June 13, 2011 at 10:19 pm.

HI Adoption Mama,

Since we had two boys, we were definitely interested in adding a little girl to our family.  As you know, in adoption, you do a lot of thinking about “what you are open to”—looking at everything from age, to siblings, to risk, to special needs. 

In addition, I wanted our third child to have a special place in our family and as the only girl, she certainly has that.

E

By Ellenore Angelidis on Tuesday, June 14, 2011 at 8:00 am.

Hi wishnkrols,

What an amazing story.  It was a perfect story after Adoption Mama’s question. 

I also find myself sometimes wishing everyone got the chance to experience both types of building your family . . .I have gained wonderful learnings through each. My boys now talk about having a similar family composition of biological and adopted kids when they have ones of their own - - it’s their new normal. 

But in the end, you are so right—- love is what truly makes a family!  Thank you so much for sharing!

E

By Ellenore Angelidis on Tuesday, June 14, 2011 at 8:05 am.
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Ellenore Angelidis

Ellenore Angelidis



I have recently adopted or am adopting from...
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