Growing your family: advice needed
I got an email today from a family who will soon begin doing foster care for a sibling group of 6, ages 9 years down to 9 months, with the goal of eventually adopting them. They already have three children at home, ages, 12, 10 and 8, whom the mother is homeschooling. They won’t be able to homeschool the older 3 ‘new’ kids until the adoption becomes final. She wrote wondering if I knew anyone who’d adopted and homeschooled a large sibling group, as she is seeking advice with the transition. I’m sharing below what I wrote to her, and then I hope anyone with insight will also share advice in comments.
I’d focus on keeping it really simple at first. Plan to give everyone at least a month or two off school, so that you’ll have less to do in the beginning and can really focus on getting to know these new kids. When you get back into school, begin with only the most basic subjects, like reading, writing and math. It might be a blessing that some of the kids will be in another school for awhile, as you may appreciate having time with fewer kids in the home needing you during the school day.
Make a simple schedule for the bare minimum of daily to-do’s, with a few simple chores for each child. Try to allow everyone lots of sleep, including you! If possible, give everyone an hour a day of alone time, either in the form of a nap for little ones, or just rest, quiet play and reading for older ones. Find some time alone with your ‘old’ kids every now and then too– it will be an enormous adjustment for them. Don’t feel bad about leaning on educational videos and Sesame Street more than usual for awhile. Adjustment takes lots of energy!
OK, folks, what other adjustment advice do you have for this mama? It would be especially helpful to hear from folks who’ve adopted sibling groups and older kids, but really anyone who’s mothering 4 or more kids has experience that may be encouraging and beneficial. So feel free to chime in!