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Adopting Same Age Children: A Parent's Perspective
How We Adopted Same Age Children
When we began our China adoption process (paper chase) for Mollie in November 2000, we thought that I would never have another birth child. I was 40 years old and had endured several miscarriages. We were very grateful for the grace of two children, a boy and a girl, which a Chinese friend of mine called, "a million dollar family." For quite a while, I sought to be content with these wonderful children, knowing that many people are not as fortunate.
Still, we had wanted four children and after I spent a long time one morning talking to a friend in my children's playgroup that had adopted her children from China, I began to wonder whether we should consider that option. However, on the way home, I told myself not even to think about that because probably wouldn't be interested. I wasn't even going to mention it to him, but we rarely keep any of our thoughts from one another and I found myself telling him about my conversation that night at dinner. I'll never forget what he said, "I'm very interested in adopting from China."
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Pregnancy with Adoption
I went that evening to investigate online. Our internet connection was primitive then, so it took a while to find out all the information. It didn't take us long to make our decision to start the paperwork process, but we did decide to wait a few months to build up our finances before applying. In the meantime, I had another miscarriage, which firmed up our decision that adoption was God's choice for us to enlarge our family.
The paperwork process was daunting and I slowly waded through an understanding of getting papers notarized, certified and authenticated. In March, just as the paperwork was almost ready to submit to China, I suddenly realized I was pregnant again. I didn't tell anyone except for Christopher, not even my mother. I was sure I would never bear this child. After having twice announced in a Christmas letter a baby we would never get to hold, I had grown leery of public pronouncements.
We sent off the paperwork for our Chinese adoption in May. When I was still pregnant at the end of June, I realized I was going to have to start telling people. In some ways, we had mixed emotions. We had been so excited about adopting two girls from China. Now we weren't sure how this would work out, and as Christopher said ominously, "It could be a boy" (we'd just gone through very terrible twos and threes with our son Brendan).
It was not a boy. Sophie Kathleen arrived a couple of weeks late, like my other two birth kids, on November 9, 2001 (yes, 11-9-01, and my birthday is 9-10). We always tell the girls that Mollie really came first, because we had named her (Madeleine Grace) and were praying for her before we knew Sophie was coming.
Same Age Children are called Like Twins
At the time we submitted our papers, the wait for adopting was 11 months and we thought that because of our ages, we would get an older child. So we thought our two girls would be about a year apart in age. However, as any China adoptive family quickly realizes, the adoption wait time is notoriously varied and there are surprises all along the way.
It was actually 15 months before we got our referral for Mollie in Oct. 2001 and she was only 9 months old. In fact, her birthday was only six weeks after Sophie's. We were going to have twins! Having been wonderfully supported by the July 2001 Panda adoption group, I searched the internet for groups about twins. I discovered that there was indeed a yahoo group for people like us, and even a name for our girls: like twins.
What Makes You Interested in Adoption?
How Adopted Same Age Children Get Along
We could never have planned a better pairing of personalities than Sophie and Mollie. From the time they met at the Dallas airport when the family came to pick us up, they have had a unique bond and friendship. They have always played together, even when they were at an age when children are not supposed to do that. They have wonderous imaginary worlds and games. Sometimes they fight, but not very often and they tend to be concerned to solve the problem quickly.
Same Age Siblings is Challenging!
Adopted Same Age Children and School
We separated our girls for the first time in kindergarten and they both did well, but when I learned Texas had passed a new law allowing parents to choose whether multiples were in the same classroom or not, I requested they be placed together. Since then, they were together every year of elementary school. Finally, in sixth grade, we decided to let them be mostly in different classes in order to get them ready for Junior High.
Every year, I have asked them if they want to be in different classes, and every year they tell me they want to be together. I suppose it could be a problem for twins to be together in the same class, but both of my girls are excellent students and model class citizens. Luckily, teachers have realized that it helps for both of them to receive the same praise. When their second grade teacher wanted to name a Citizen of the Year, she gave it to both of them. We were also blessed that both of them qualified for our school district's gifted program, so they are both able to go to the special classes offered once a week.
Parenting Adopted Same Age ChildrenClick thumbnail to view full-size
How Do Other Children View Adopted Same Age Children?
However, they don't necessarily do everything together at school or at home. At school, they don't sit together and often play with other friends at recess. Last year, I did have one friend tell me her daughter complained about Mollie playing with "some tall blonde girl." They mother had to explain Sophie was Mollie's sister.
If they invite a friend over, they usually all play together, but they have their own birthday parties and invite different people. They were both on the same softball team, but Sophie didn't want to play soccer with Mollie this Fall. Sophie (who is in the 98th percentile in height) will probably do basketball instead.
Still, they love doing their homework together at home and often when one has an idea of something to play, the other one will join along. That is in spite of the fact that they are completely different in personalities.
Mollie is fun, feisty and loves dancing and laughing. Sophie is a thinker and is less talkative, but she is the one who is willing to dress outlandishly for a school costume contest, not caring what people think. Mollie is more concerned about how people feel about her. Perhaps that is why the two of them get along so well. Sophie tends to be bossy, but Mollie puts up with it because she want to remain friends. In turn, Mollie's ideas often win out over Sophie's. Somehow, it all balances out.
First Journalist to Cover Adoption in China 2006
How Do Adopted Same Age Children Feel?
When they were younger, it was more obvious that they were the same age and we had a lot of wonderful conversations with people explaining how both our baby girls were "miracles." For safety (and because it was cute), I often dressed them alike so that no one would question that I was Mollie's mother and that the two girls were together. I also wanted to show the connection they felt for one another that wasn't necessarily evident to other people. Frankly, I also did it because they were adorable: tall Sophie with the floating blonde curls, and short, athletic Mollie with the adorable smile and fuzzy black hair. We got plenty of stares and plenty of wonderful smiles, which led to lots of conversations about adoption.
Now, they still often choose to dress alike and their younger sister usually wants to dress alike too. That has become a challenge since Sophie is rather unusually tall for her age and is always outgrowing her clothes. At one point the doctor said she might grow to be 6'2", but I suspect she will grow fast and stop early, like me. At twelve, she is a full head and shoulders taller than Mollie and looks like she is a couple of years older.
Although they are virtually the same age, Sophie takes the older sister roll and last week Christopher even heard her say, "You have to do what I say because I'm older than you," to Mollie. However, Mollie is much braver in social situations, and so at school or with adults she often takes the lead.
Sophie is our quiet, thoughtful, responsible one who is kind of awkward and clumsy (grows so fast her co-ordination can't keep up) but loves sports, running, being outside and animals. Mollie is spontaneous, funny, hardworking and fantastically co-ordinated, but not very interested in going outside or competing in sports. She would rather hold hands or sit on a lap. Together, the twins challenge and support one another.
Should You Adopt Same Age Children?
Do they fight? They rarely fought when they were younger, but when they hit the pre-teen ages, they started doing separate things more often and started getting angry with one another. One mom of twins encouraged me by saying that twins need to separate and be their own person in order to be able to live separate lives as adults.
Our experience has been very positive, but that might in part be because our girls were so young when they became siblings. They do not remember a time when they were not together. Should other parents adopt same age siblings? I think that having children the same age has been a wonderful experience for them and for us. However, I also think it would have been more difficult if one of our children had some special needs. While having same age children can bring some extra challenges, I would encourage parents to consider that not adopting a child can be sorrowful too.