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Parenting when Older Children have Left the Nest

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After my two boys had grown, my husband and I made the decision to adopt. We wanted a little girl after raising two boys.

Adoption is a big decision for all families but even bigger in our case as we were in our late 40s. Many people would shy away from this but, for us, the decision was easy. We loved children and ours were grown. We had room in the house for a couple more so why not provide them a home?

Some family members and friends thought we were saints while others thought we had gone crazy. Saints, we are not. Crazy, maybe, but adoption is a great way to grow a family.

I could tell a long story just about the adoption process. As you might imagine, it can be long, bumpy, and full of unknowns. We initially submitted all of our paperwork to China and found that the wait was growing substantially. We had heard from an agency that Vietnam had recently opened up adoptions to the USA. Long story short, we filed our case with Vietnam within the next two months.

To our surprise at the time of our referral, Vietnam had fewer toddlers, which we had applied for, than babies. As a result, we were referred to a 5 month old baby girl who spent her first months in a very quiet, secluded orphanage. In May of 2007, our very tiny daughter joined our family.

She was a small, beautiful baby with abandonment issues and fears of everything outside the orphanage. We had been prepared, but reality hits you when that little baby clings to you with all she can and looks up with wide scared eyes. We were in love with this child.

Ten months after she came into our lives, I decided to look into adoption again. This time we were able to adopt from China.

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China has two ways of adopting a child: you can wait for five to seven years for a healthy baby or you can choose from a special needs list of children of all ages. We chose our son from a special needs list. He had been born with a club foot that had already been taken care of when he was found.

Our little boy looked a little sad in the picture, although very handsome. He was 2 years old, small, scared and lonely. Nine months later, we arrived in China to adopt him. He sat on the bed in the hotel, with all his little belongings in his arms, crying so hard. He touched our hearts. How wonderfully he fit into our family when we got home.

Seven years have passed and I would adopt all over again. My two older sons and their families have greeted their smaller siblings with open arms. Our family is the joy of our lives.

Karen would like to encourage parents of any age thinking of adoption to find someone in their community who has gone through an adoption to help you through the process. She recommends online adoption communities, blogs, and agencies that will make sure you are connected with families just like yours.

Karen Wagner works as a Document Management Specialist for Johnson & Johnson, Logistic Center in Memphis, TN. She has a wonderful husband of 24 years and four children: two grown biological sons with three wonderful grandchildren, one loving daughter from Vietnam, and one loving son from China. Karen has spent most of the last 20+ years working primarily in the pharmaceutical business.

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