Babies vs. Toddlers/Preschoolers Question

Here is my one and only Q&A question…

My husband and I have two young bio girls and we are planning on adopting at least 2 in the near future. In one of your blog posts, you wrote that R&L had a much more difficult transition home, but Gus was more tiring to keep up with all day. Sorry if I got that wrong, but that’s how I remember it. Can you explain more what you mean by that? We feel drawn towards toddler adoption (2-5 years) rather than a newborn or infant, but I am anxious about how the transition period will go.

First of all, you feel drawn towards toddler adoption… that’s great! I think whatever route you chose, you should feel like it’s the best one for your family. And what is best for us may not be what is best for you. I know some people feel strongly about adopting older kids, some people will only adopt young babies, others of us are somewhere in the middle. I feel the same way about that as I do for domestic versus international adoption or country versus country. There is no best option for everyone across the board, only the best for YOUR family.

Anytime you adopt 2 children it is going to be more difficult. And, learning to parent the first time around was harder than adjusting our techniques for a younger child.

There are a few things that are inherently harder about parenting a toddler/preschooler versus an infant. First of all, the care that a baby needs is good for bonding. I pick Gus up countless times a day. I change his diaper, I dress him. I feed him. I can put him in a baby carrier on my back for walks or to make dinner. He learns to rely on me to get his needs met.

You can do some of that with a toddler or preschooler. I can still technically wear Reed, at 5 years old, but I don’t. He’s just too heavy, I get too tired and I want him to burn off energy himself. I am more likely to wear Lena, but the fact that I don’t need… it doesn’t happen often.

I don’t find the same behavior on a preschooler as cute as I do on a baby or young toddler. Eg. Toddler smacking me and smiling VS. 4yo smacking me and smiling. Even if I know that they are both dealing with the same attachment struggles, it is just easier to put up with (for me) on a toddler than a preschooler.

The fact that Gus needs more sleep and I can contain him to a crib makes life easier. It makes it easier for me to take a “time-out” if I need it, because I can put him in his crib and sit with him, without being physically touched or needing to help anyone stay in their beds. There have been a few times when he has napped a bit earlier than normal, just because I was frustrated and starting to need a break.

Gus IS more tiring to keep up with all day– because he’s 18 months old. I also have probably put most of my exhaust with Reed and Lena out of my mind. But, Gus can literally disappear in a minute, while I am occupied with something. He will go out the doggie door or up the stairs. He is also, age appropriately, into everything. We baby proofed our house, but there are still things at his height, like shoes or toilet paper, that he will take and move… making it hard to find them later. I spend most of my day chasing him or cleaning up after him.

Even at 20 months, our social worker still considers Reed and Lena pretty early into the attachment stages. And, when you think about it, that makes sense. Reed has still spent  only 1/3 of his life with us, and Lena has spent less than half of her life with us. When Gus has been home for 20 months, he will have spent more than half of his life with us. Now that Reed goes to school and spends the majority of his waking hours with other adults, we’ve seen some old struggles return. I don’t share this to discourage you, but just to keep it real. The hardest parts of our post-adoption process is over, but there will be life-long parenting that is specific to adopted children. Life-long questions that we are helping our children answer, as it pertains to their past and their adoption.

I hope I answered your question and didn’t over-do it.

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