There are those who have taken older siblings and come home with regrets. Barbara Langstaff and her husband Eric did not find taking their almost-five-year-old son Wilson to be the joy that many families who travel describe. “We took him with us to China because we love him dearly and did not want to be away from him for an extended length of time.” Like many parents of international adoption, the Langstaffs worried that leaving Wilson for an extended period might bring about some resentment at having been “abandoned.” Also, they wanted their son to be a part of the family building process.
“Wilson didn’t act any differently than he would have at home. However, we were not at home. He has always depended on structure to get him by, and that’s one of the many things a trip to China to adopt lacks! Also, he was very ‘needy’ at a time when I wanted to pay some attention to our new daughter. In a way, I may have created my own stress, hoping for behavior I had no right to expect of one so young.”
While there was never any question in the Paolini family about whether or not daughter Kelsey would travel, her father Dan concedes that international adoption travel is not for every sibling. Kelsey’s nine-year-old brother Daniel didn’t go along because, among other factors, Dan didn’t think Daniel would be a good candidate for the trip. “Daniel doesn’t particularly enjoy new experiences and cultures, and doesn’t enjoy trying new and different foods. In his case, it was appropriate for him to stay back with his mom and step-father,” reasons Dan.
Paulette Kurzer agrees that adoption trips aren’t for every child. “Our son is well traveled. I think that it is harder to travel with a child who doesn’t know what to expect and has no experience with long flights and delays. However, now that we are the proud parents of an 18-month-old, I am reminded of how difficult it is to travel with a young child. Katya doesn’t want to be in a chair, she runs around the airport and tires me out even before we have boarded the plane! If a child is young and active, it might be wise to leave the child at home,” advises Paulette.
Hertha Wong also acknowledges that adoption travel would be more challenging with an active child, and wonders whether she would have taken Xian (her recently adopted daughter) if the situation were reversed. “On one hand, I think probably I would, but on the other, she is not so content as Sita to sit with or by me. She is impossible to contain or restrain when she wants to move. And she is LOUD when she expresses her discontent.”
Kim Breuer agrees that adoption travel is not for every child. “The waiting can be tough-such as when we were finalizing the adoptions (there were 14 families), or when we were waiting for our visa appointments.” Kim warns not to bring children who can’t handle a simple wait in the States. Also, western children traveling in Asian countries receive a lot of attention. Kim advises leaving children at home who would be bothered by being stared at or followed, patted, cheeks pinched, or grabbed by locals to have their pictures taken with them. Kim also recommends leaving at home children who don’t listen or follow your instructions well. “It’s my opinion that a child needs to exhibit a certain level of maturity-the trip can be stressful and you don’t need to be dealing with a discipline problem in addition to the wants and needs of your new daughter. However, some children at 8 may be more mature in some ways than a 12-year-old. It all depends on your child.”
Courtesy of Adoptive Families magazine
© Mary E. Petertyl
Note: Our authors are dedicated to honest, engaged, informed, intelligent, and open conversation about adoption. The opinions expressed here may not reflect the views of Adoption.com.