To Bring or Not to Bring: That is the Question

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Should you bring your older children when you travel to adopt?

Most agencies I have talked with discourage families from bringing older children on the adoption trip, but I don’t think it’s so cut and dry. Whether to take an older child with you depends on the age and personality of the older child, the age of the new child, your agency’s attitude, the referral method, the parents’ travel experience, the parents’ adoption experience, and the adoption process in the country.

To Bring Not To Bring
No one able to stay with older child at home and both parents need or want to travel. Want to focus undivided attention on new child without having to balance the needs of older child.
Adoption trip is too long to leave older child. Older child is not flexible, doesn’t handle change well, or is extremely shy.
Belief that adoption is a family affair; the whole family is adopting, not just the parents. Older child is a picky eater.
The trip is a time for the family to bond without the pressures of work and everyday life. Older child does not play well by himself and needs TV, video games, and toys for entertainment.
Older child may feel resentful of new child for being the reason his parents went away. Better to postpone dealing with sibling rivalry until you aren’t under the stress of traveling.
Helps older child understand new child better if he sees where he came from. Expense of airfare and in country travel costs.
New child often bonds first with a sibling and can learn how to relate to parents by watching and emulating older child. Want to avoid the possibility of older child getting sick in a foreign country.
Educational experience if child is old enough. Can study the country as a family before the trip by reading books, watching videos, and preparing food. Older child may get behind on school work.
Lessens anxiety of parents if the adoption process gets delayed in country.Puts less pressure on getting home soon. Older child too young to remember the trip so why spend the money.
Children open up your experience of a new culture.People in many countries love to interact with your children. Who will take care of older child while parents attend to the business of adoption such as court hearings and trips to passport office.
Consider this to be a family trip of a lifetime and want all family members to be a part of it. Not all orphanages will allow the older child in the orphanage with you when you are visiting with your new child.
Parents are comfortable travelers who embrace new experiences and cultures. Additional luggage and laundry.
Parents are fairly relaxed about the adoption experience so stress won’t be too high. Don’t want older child to have to get immunization shots if required.
Depending on ages and personalities, older child can be a help to parents by entertaining new child. If traveling in a group, older children may not be welcomed.

If you decide to take an older child, talk with your agency at the beginning to gauge their attitude. Some families recommend bringing a grandparent or friend along to stay with the older child while the parents are tied up elsewhere; otherwise, one parent can stay with the older child while the other parent runs around. If you decide to leave the older child at home, consider whether one parent should stay home with her to minimize the disruption in her life. If this is not possible or desirable, it is usually less disruptive if someone familiar to the older child moves into your house and stays with her there.

Image credit: Joe Schlabotnik

21/10/2008 | by Fact Sheets | Categories: Adoption, Adoption Blog, Blog, Other Adoption Resources | 0 Comments



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