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Monday, January 9, 2017

"Not twins" - Part I

These are our not-twins.
Tess and Jude, birthdays separated by only 28 days. Born in the same hospital, transferred to the same orphanage on the same day, and often crib mates until we were untied with them a year later.

Adopting a child (or children) that is biologically unrelated and very close in age, to a sibling (closer than 9 months) has been coined artificial twinning. Sometimes this is done by adopting a child that is close in age to the child a family already has, and sometimes it's done by adopting 2 children that are close in age, at the same time. The controversy about whether or not artificial twinning (also known as virtual twins, pseudo twins, like-twins) is ongoing. Many countries and adoptions agencies don't even allow it, and many folks "in the know" discourage it. I totally understand why, and keeping it real I do not recommend that families adopt 2 children at the same time unless they are biologically related.

Every child needs the room to find themselves an their place in the family. That's hard to do for an adopted child to do, but add in another child that is the same age (and possibly gender) and it's even more challenging. And adopting a child that has been institutionalized just compounds the potential problems. Parents need time and resources to learn about their new child, help them adjust, and this is most easily done one at a time. Inevitable comparisons and all the pitfalls of it, are inherent with raising artificial twins. And attachment, the end all be all of adoption parenting, is more than twice as hard when trying to attach with and teach attachment from 2 children rather than just one. I get it. Really I do. Virtual twins are more than twice as hard a children that are nice and spaced out and each have their own place in the family rather than needed to share it with a sibling.

Now this is the part where I'm going to come off as a hypocrite, but you see, we didn't know any better. We purposefully adopted 2 not-biologically related children who were close in age, our not-twins. And not only did it work out okay for us, but it's kinda the best case scenario. Tess and Jude, 28 days apart, were adopted at the same time, long before we were educated about all the warnings and difficulties of raising artificial twins. There were and are so many hurdles to overcome to have two children the same age. But there are so many wonderful things about it too. Where Jude fell short in his physical development, Tess took the lead, and he was pushed to physically develop faster by trying to keep up with her. And where Tess fell behind, he was her role model. Tess and Jude have known each other longer than they've known us, and as they've grown, they've really developed into best friends even if they know know it. They much prefer each other's company, and I cannot image a day that they aren't together. Don't get me wrong. Adopting a child for the purpose of creating a playmate with your child is never a good idea. We just happened to get lucky that Tess and Jude are this close. Another coincidence is that even though Tess and Jude are not biologically related, they are and always have been very similar in size, (There has never been more than 2" and 2 lb difference between them.) and that often leads to the question Are they twins? Which we get asked very often. And our reply, Not, they're not twins. has now been uttered so many times that we now refer to Tess and Jude as our not-twins.

These days Tess and Jude are in the same school and the same 3rd-grade classroom. At school they are friends but don't necessarily hang out with each other. They are comfortable being in the same space but don't need to be together to feel secure. They have their own likes and their own friends. Contrastingly, at home, they are usually side-by-side, rushing through homework so that they can play together. Mimi is the third musketeer of their trio, but there is something about Tess and Jude's bond that goes beyond being siblings and special friends. This is due in part to good luck and in part to years of working on attachment and teaching each of our children that they are unique and special in their own way, yet a part of family unit that treasures their individuality... well at least that's what we're trying to do.

t.b.c. more about our not-twins tomorrow...

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