Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Adoption versus Maternity Leave

So, with great thankfulness, I am on adoption leave from work whilst our newest addition settles in to the home. It's actually the first time I have taken adoption leave, since the first time we adopted I was already on maternity leave (there is just a six month gap between the boys) - life just kind of continued but there were two babies rather than one. Two nappies to change, two mouths to feed. Two babies to breastfeed, two babies to carry (one on the front and one on the back seemed to work well). Naptimes, bathtimes and bedtimes just involved two rather than one.

This time was a bit different - my youngest had recently turned four. It seems like no time since we spent a chunk of that maternity leave working in rural West Africa. But then I suppose most parents comment on that, just how fast time seems to move.

At work, I have been asked to make some comments on the whole process of adoption leave, to help both those who are going through the process, but perhaps even more so, to guide those who are attempting to support and guide them. Here are some of my initial remarks.

Firstly, there are differences in the preparation and communication surrounding the intended period of leave.

1) The actual policy is virtually word for word the same for adoption and maternity leave, and one can see how a line manager might assume that they are therefore the same. (There are likely to be differences in the fine print - so check your local policies carefully)

2) With a pregnancy, although there is always the uncertainty (there are still 17 stillbirths per day in the UK, and I have a couple of friends who have been through that heartbreak), for most people there are more obvious milestones and timelines. People 'announce' the pregnancy at different stages, but by the third trimester it tends to be physically obvious! In the UK, there is also an obligation to inform your employer by 26 weeks. Pregnancy is more familiar to most people, and they generally have an idea what to do, what to say, how to try and be supportive (although I am sure you can think of examples where this has not been the case!). In contrast, the timelines involved in adoption are very different, and often unpredictable. Some people consider the time when a couple starts the assessment for adoption to be equivalent to the time when a couple starts 'trying' for a baby; it is often a private and personal decision, and there is no inevitable outcome. However, the assessments for adoption can be lengthy, involve multiple interviews, social work assessments, references, medicals, home visits and so forth. Somebody may need time off work for these (and indeed the policy does mention 'reasonable time off' for related appointments) but at the same time, they may be wishing to keep the process private. I suppose a similar example might be a couple undergoing fertility treatment, or suffering recurrent early pregnancy losses with all the related appointments and procedures. It is not just a very personal time, but it can also be tough emotionally; a colleague going through this process might be unexpectedly emotional at times, or seem distracted. Of course if the process is affecting their ability to work, they should be able to talk about things in confidence.

3) Even when a couple are approved as adoptive parents (perhaps the equivalent might be that they have 'conceived'), the timeline is still uncertain, perhaps even more so. Matching can take a very long time, or can be done almost immediately. In our recent experience, we were actually matched with our daughter at panel, so there was no delay at all. I found the biggest challenge was knowing what to tell people when. We were quite honest about the fact we were in the process, but even then some people were taken by surprise when we suddenly had a new child!

4) Matching is where the timeline becomes quite radically different, and where I believe the adoptive parent might need the most support and flexibility. From 'the phonecall' through to the child coming home is usually a period of 1-2 weeks' bonding. That was how it was for a friend in the UK, and for us in East Africa. During that period there are several important things to be accomplished. First of all, this is the time to meet and 'bond' with the child. It is a strange kind of bonding, often under the watchful eye of the social workers. I would see it like passing your driving test - you don't really start the real proper bonding until you are home unsupervised, simply enjoying being together. But it needs to be done. At the same time, the parents might decide this is the time to inform family and friends, not all of whom may have known about the ongoing adoption process. And finally, with only a couple of weeks' notice, the person taking leave needs to wrap up all the loose ends of work, put in place clear plans for ongoing projects and decide approximately how (if at all) they will remain in touch during their leave. I write this from the perspective of a medical academic with several ongoing studies and clinical trials, where I intend to keep things ticking over. Others may choose to take a complete break from work, and it is their prerogative to do so. In either case, it can be quite a challenge to get things straightened out in good time, and for me it involved a whistlestop trip back to the UK to sort a few things out before taking time off.

Once on leave, there are many similarities and it is helpful to remember these, in addition to the subtle differences. These might be of less relevance to an employer, but I think are of interest to anybody who is supporting a friend or relative through this time:

1) The first one is not a difference! The family have just had a new baby! This warrants exactly the same celebrations and congratulations as the arrival of any other new baby. The whole family will be in a time of adjustment, settling into new schedules and routines and getting to know their newest member. If your pattern is to bring a meal for a person with a new baby, then it should be the same with an adopted baby. If you would offer to provide some childcare for the older siblings to allow the parents and new baby time alone, then it should be no different. If you would send a card or a gift, then do the same here. If it would be normal for an email to be sent to colleagues informing them of the good news, then this is the same. To me, this sounds obvious, but my experience has been a bit different. On both occasions I have found myself having to remind people (perhaps even including ourselves!), 'We've just had a new baby!'

2) Bonding and adjustment will take time. This is the same as with any newborn, but depending on the  age of the adopted child, there will be differences in the challenges faced by the adoptive parents. Our new addition sleeps really well, for long periods of time. Whilst that is indeed a blessing, I do not have the luxury of long night feeds which I have always found an amazing time of intimacy with my baby, feeling that we are the only people in the world. The times when she is awake do tend to be the busy family times too, so we need to make a conscious and deliberate effort to focus on her. (This is where help with the older children could be even more useful for a family who have recently adopted)

3) The family will be tired! It is easy (perhaps) to think that because somebody has not gone through a pregnancy and labour, and may not be breastfeeding, that they have no reason to be tired. But remember that this is a 'significant life event' for everybody involved. I need to remind myself of that too - that the other children are a bit hyped up and excitable, but also tired. As parents we have been through the lengthy build up of social work assessments, presentation at panel and then the two week bonding period which was quite difficult in some ways. (Mainly practically difficult with lots of moving around the city, which is not so easy here).

4) It is an emotional time. Again, this is similar to any newborn child! But perhaps adoption brings complications too. Adoption was never the way things were meant to be. There will have been loss along the way, the most obvious one being that the child is separated from their biological parents (through circumstance or death). But the parents may also have been through an tough time emotionally. Some people choose to adopt having been through infertility or miscarriages, and it might not have been a decision that came easily. Adjustment might bring some emotional baggage, and it is good to be aware of this.

5) When a couple say that they have 'adopted', in almost all circumstances there will still be legal processes and hurdles. Depending on the country, and sometimes the age of the child, there is a period of 'fostering to adopt' before the adoption can pass through a court and become final and legal. During this period, there will be continued oversight by social workers, which will vary in its frequency and intensity. It can be intrusive. Whilst almost all adoptions do proceed as planned, we know of several examples where this has not been the case and there is real heartbreak. I do not think there is an ideal way to handle this. If one distances themselves from their child, and makes statements like, 'This is a child we are fostering, and hope to adopt in a year or so', this will greatly impact upon bonding and the family dynamic. So most families welcome the newcomer as with any child. Until I personally became involved with adoptions and saw others go through the process, I did not realise this.

6) Some things are very difficult to discuss. A parent may know quite a lot about the child's background (especially in well resourced countries) but are not at liberty to say. There are some questions which are insensitive. For us, we do not like to use the word 'abandoned' now that the older children might start to understand what it means. It is a cold, horrible word. Instead simply to say that a child 'had no mummy or daddy' is better. The stories of our children are very simple - we know little. Other adoptions are more complicated, some require ongoing contact with biological relatives, others involve medical challenges. I don't think it is wrong to ask questions, but please be understanding if the parent is unable to answer.

7) Relating in part to the comment above, sharing on social media might be a no-no. Don't make assumptions, and if in doubt, ask!

8) One big difference - I ran 10 K yesterday, up and down hills, dodging motorbikes in the humid heat. No chance I could have done that at a week postpartum, it was enough of a problem to walk!

These are just a few initial thoughts about some of the similarities and differences between a person taking adoption leave and a person taking maternity leave. There may well be others - please comment if you can think of some! Others will relate to the personalities of the parents - think of parents of newborns, and how touchy some can get about comments and questions, whereas others love to talk in detail about the minutae of their baby's feeding, sleeping and toilet habits. I imagine it is the same with adoption. Some people are happy to talk openly about everything, whereas others are more private. 

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Adoption, Bonding and Breastfeeding

We are celebrating the recent arrival of our fifth child, who joined us about a week ago. To us, adoption is a really beautiful thing, which communicates some of the heart of the gospel. Adoption is always going to involve some kind of loss somewhere along the line - the most obvious of which being that the child is not with their biological family. (There may be other losses too, depending on the circumstances of both child and adoptive family). It is not 'ideal', but to me in many ways that reflects the fallen world we live in. Many things are not ideal. One does not look far to see pain and brokenness. Yet our glorious hope in Christ is for redemption, and one day restoration and resurrection.

You might wonder about the title of the post! However, I like to write about the abundance of life, and right now one of those enjoyable challenges surrounds relactation.

Quick tutorial:

1) Relactation is when a woman who has previously breastfed a child is able to establish and maintain a milk supply to breastfeed again, often after a period of many years. This is something which has been known and accepted in many societies for years. In Africa, it is not uncommon for a grandmother to breastfeed an infant whose mother died in childbirth. There aren't many other feeding options for the children here. Relactation can be supported by medication which enhances the production of prolactin from the pituitary gland. It just so happens that I was on such a medication for years for a gastrointestinal problem, and so had a large supply to hand. There are also herbal supplements and some dietary choices which are supposed to increase milk supply although I am unsure as to whether there is good scientific evidence for these.

2) Induced lactation refers to a woman who has never carried a pregnancy or breastfed but who wishes to breastfeed. This is a little bit more tricky, since breastfeeding required two things: the development of glandular breast tissue and the production of prolactin. It can be achieved in these mothers, but may require a combination of hormonal medication to 'mimic' a pregnancy before stopping these and starting drugs which can stimulate lactation.

But you might ask, why would anybody want to do this if a child is healthy and well established on bottle feeding? For me, the benefits are vast. I will not attempt to describe in full the benefits of breastfeeding - there are many resources that already do this. My quick summary is this:

1) Breastmilk is designed perfectly for an infant. As well as nutrition, it contains all kinds of helpful antibodies and proteins which can help protect against infection. There are often new discoveries regarding the nutritional and immunological benefits of breast milk which can continue well into adult life

2) Breasfeeding provides an amazing time of bonding. There is nothing much nicer than to cuddle a perfectly relaxed child who is half sleeping and half feeding.

3) Perhaps part of the bonding is also that breastfeeding takes time. It is necessary to create that time to be close with your child, no matter what else is going on around you.

4) Breastfeeding gives that time just to gaze at your child, to sing to them, to pray for them, to study them and to really focus on them. Perhaps this becomes more important as the family grows and there are always so many competing demands on time

For us, with a seven month baby who is starting to eat increasing amounts of solids, the benefits may relate more to bonding than to nutrition. However, there is evidence that even a small amount of breast milk is beneficial, even if it is difficult to be scientifically precise about this.

There are a number of helpful resources which provide more detail if this was something you wished to do - for example here, here, here and here.

Some of my own reflections:

1) It is possible. With our first adopted child, I was already breastfeeding and he was a bit younger, so it was a very straightforward (in fact immediate) transition. It has been a bit more work this time, and I would not say that 'feeding is established' yet by any stretch

2) It takes patience. It is one thing to get the mother to lactate. It is a different issue to get the infant to take to the breast, especially if they have no previous experience of breastfeeding. There are supplemental nursing systems designed specifically with this in mind. But can you imagine trying to use this with three lively and curious boys that you are homeschooling, and a cleaner who doesn't always give much personal space, as well as various other people coming and going? For me, that is the biggest challenge of all - to get space and time.

3) It takes space and time! I am completely comfortable breastfeeding anywhere, including in professional meetings, on public transport or even walking along the road with the child in a sling. But I am less comfortable using a supplemental nursing system or a breast pump anywhere. A week before the child came home to us, I  had to make a long distance work-related trip. Trying to find somewhere to express milk in an airport is interesting. Similarly, to do so whilst working a busy shift in a teaching hospital can be challenging (and if nobody knows you are expecting a child or that you are lactating, explaining the need to access a private room is interesting). Most of the resources recommend pumping each side for 15 minutes, 8-10 times a day. For me, that really hasn't been possible. 3-4 times a day perhaps but not more. Now we are all together, I need time with the baby so she can work out how to latch on. She is making progress, but we don't have the luxury of hours and hours alone together to really focus on this.

4) Most of the resources seem to assume that it is just you and your adopted baby and you have all the time in the world to work on this. Like I said, I am not able to spend as much time as might be ideal. But I think it is important to remember that anything is worthwhile! I might not be able to exclusively breastfeed her the way I did with my other adopted child, but indeed she is older and if we can aim for one or two feeds a day as well as other nutrition, I would be delighted. Sometimes there needs to be an adjustment of expectations, to avoid frustration and disillusionment

5) It is important not to get obsessed. I do not want my relationship with my daughter to be all about breastfeeding, and its important not to start thinking it is the most important thing. I sometimes feel a bit like a failure for feeding with a bottle (we have literally never used a bottle before with any of our other four children). But that's not the point. Parenthood isn't about 'success' or 'failure' anyway. It is interesting because I remember hearing other mums telling me they felt a 'failure' for not being able to breastfeed - maybe now I actually understand a little bit of that feeling, and that must be helpful for me to be able to encourage others in the future.

So, there you go. A bit different from my usual posts, but hopefully will bring encouragement to some of you!

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Schoolrooms and school terms

Do you use a school room? It was something I always thought of as being a nice concept, but when we moved house just before Christmas, we discovered a long thin room down the side of the house which would have been perfect. Indeed, that's exactly what our homeschooling neighbours do!

But four months later, do we have a school room? No. We are transforming it slowly into a study, and currently use if for activities which need a bit of quiet - Skype conference calls for the parents, Rosetta Stone for the boys. But in general, most of our education takes place all over the place, but rarely in a fixed and separate location.

Charlotte Mason famously said, 'Education is an atmosphere and education is a life'. I think that probably sums up why we don't find a school room particularly helpful. Instead, our typical day would look more like this:

1) Bible, history, read-alouds (both parent reading to child and child reading to parent) and any other books we are reading together - outside in the back yard. We have a small enclosed area with colourful flowering bushes around the walls, fascinating birdlife and at least four different types of lizard. In the mornings it is cool enough to enjoy being out there, but by about midday the heat starts to pound down on you and it is time to move elsewhere.

2) We then move to the dining table for spelling, copywork, other 'language arts', maths and bits of science. The dining table is useful because it is right next to the hatch which leads to the kitchen and so I can be in the kitchen but keeping a very close eye on the children. (They are not yet at the age where I am happy for them to be in a different room)

3) Maths often moves to the kitchen (for measuring, chopping, following recipes, baking and so forth) or to the living room floor (lego, building blocks, other forms of counting, adding and so forth)

4) Science often ends up outside, involving growing things, experiments involving water and other slightly messier activities

5) The 'education' tends to be ongoing - we might need to go to the market, or to walk somewhere. Often walking and talking gives an opportunity to further discuss the reading from earlier in the day.

6) Music might involve gathering around the piano. Sometimes we just sing. Other times we get out the box of 'instruments' which can make a fairly rowdy noise. We try not to do that one too close to bedtime. We also have activities out and about - choir on one afternoon, music classes on another morning.

7) Sports of course would never be undertaken in a school room! We have some activities which are great for on the compound. Interval sprint training (such as fartlek) and cycling is good on the road outside, especially in the day when there is not much traffic. Other sports are done as part of a home education group and include swimming, basketball and athletics

8) Spanish (or it could be any language) is best done in the study. Rosetta stone is quite amazing - it tunes into each child's voice and does not let them proceed until the pronounciation is correct. This does need a quiet space as free from interruption as possible

9) Otherwise, the rest of our day is spent dipping in and out of books, playing games, discussing a range of topics, and this will be done where ever we happen to be.

Similarly, another question we are often asked about is whether we take holidays. Often our initial response is that we don't. Taking a holiday might imply there was a need to take a holiday from something, and even when we are out of town, or even in a different country, much of our time is spent learning and exploring the world around us. There will be different opportunities in different places. But we do move with the ebb and flow of life. Around Christmas, the boys did an intensive swimming camp which required being out of the house from 9 am until mid-afternoon. We clearly did not manage quite as many read-alouds or as much maths and science during those weeks! This week, they were joined by their baby sister; that too has caused some distraction and we accept that we might not march through the scheduled activities (we are following Sonlight curriculum as well as the additional opportunities which arise through daily life) at the same rate as usual. I think the beauty here is that our schedule is not imposed on us. We seem to be heading to complete the academic 'year' in approximately the right number of weeks (not that it would matter tremendously if we did not) but that has been through taking things at our pace, having the slower weeks at our convenience and so forth.

I think a lot of these thoughts come back to one's underlying philosophy of education. Why are you home educating? Are you simply aiming for 'school at home' for practical reasons? Or are you taking a more holistic view of education, recognising that just about everything that happens in life has lessons which are of benefit for the children?

So, we are left with a room which needs a little more work at the side of our house. It is a peaceful area and hopefully the work done there will be focussed. Perhaps as the children get older (my eldest is still only six) they will need room to work independently without distraction. But the 'dream' of a neat, ordered, quiet schoolroom with maps and posters on the wall might be passing by.

Where does most of your education take place? Do you use a school room or a set area? 

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Intentional living

Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil Ephesians 5:15-16

I've written before about 'intentional parenting'. This was a concept I was delighted to come across early on in our parenting experience, because it just rang true of so much that we saw in our culture. There are so many well-meaning people who simply do what everybody else does ('default') or do whatever makes their life easier ('survival').

I would extend this concept to suggest that all Christians should think about 'intentional adulthood'. There have been several things that have made us think about this recently - mainly what seem to be the presumptions and assumed worldview of young adults we know who are making life decisions (and many of these are in the area of finances). So often, people seem to do things because that is what people do, rather than questioning why, and whether these things are really necessary. Often there may be an expectation (from parents or peers for example), but often the expectation is from within themselves.

It might be best illustrated with an example, perhaps one I have used before. When we first headed out to southern Africa, we had no children. Four years and three children later, we returned to the UK for a few years and moved back into our three bedroom terraced house in a residential area of a northern city. It was perfect for our needs. But what astounded me at the time (and still, as I recollect on those days) was the attitude of many Christians around us. There was an assumption that we must move into the suburbs, to a four bedroom house with a garden. Time after time, we received comments and questions, implying our house was insufficient. A relative asked, 'How does this house compare to those of your peers?' (We had no idea! It is not something we would ever talk about or think about unless we were invited to their homes). An elder from church suggested it was, 'A bit of a starter home', which I found a little insulting to the elderly couples who lived on our street and who had worked hard all their lives to live there! But more than anything, I was just taken aback. We knew many people living in single room properties without proper roofing or plumbing, and now we had three bedrooms, a functional kitchen, running water and everything we could think of. How could that be insufficient?

It was a simple example regarding something inanimate, but it challenged me to consider. What do we consider essential? What do we consider luxuries? Do we truly trust that God will provide everything we NEED as opposed to everything we WANT?

As Christians, the Bible gives us principles, but not specific details on many of the aspects of living I am considering. We are taught that it is better to not have too much or too little. We are taught to be content in all circumstances, whether we have want or whether we abound (Philippians chapter 4). We are warned by Jesus Himself that we cannot serve both God and money (Matthew 6:24, Luke 16:13). Those who are wealthy are advised to be generous with what they have and seek to glorify God through such blessings (1 Timothy 6:17). It's not so much about what we have but about our motives. But I also think that some people can use that as an excuse, since nobody except God truly knows our motives! Also, there are many places where God tells us about the blessings He wishes for us, and that many of the good things in life are there to be enjoyed. But again, one must take care there; we should not puritanically deprive ourselves of things for no good reason, but we (and when I say 'we', I am thinking of an individual from a well resourced, industrialised country) probably take too much for granted.

The other example that springs to my mind is take-away coffee from some of the bigger franchises. These drinks can cost several pounds or dollars, and many people think of these as a necessity of life. Indeed, coffee is now listed as a major weekly expense for many. But when I watch students and those I know who are struggling to make ends meet fetch their daily coffee, I do wonder about their priorities. I struggle to buy these drinks, because it somehow seems abhorrent to spend more on a drink than many people live on for a day, and so restrict them to a rare treat, perhaps whilst travelling. But I think many people just don't think. They don't see the cost adding up over the weeks and months and think about how that might be better used.

I would think that young adults starting out on their first jobs, or considering marriage, should consider and discuss some of the following areas. (I know that much has been written on marriage preparation, and I do not intend to replicate that here, but rather to give some broad areas to consider). In fact, I think Christians should consider everything! Why do we do what we do? Why do we make the choices we do? Where does our hope lie? Are we putting our confidence in our possessions or choices, or are we seeking God's guidance in all things?

Some examples we have thought of recently include:

1) What kind of house is really necessary? Do you really need to buy the biggest house you can afford? Do you really need to take on a huge mortgage? Of course you might wish to have plenty of space for guests and to offer hospitality; but search your heart on this! Some of the best fellowship I have known has been in very small homes where we've been packed in a bit, but have wholeheartedly enjoyed one another's company (some related thoughts on contentment are here)

2) Do you really need a car? Or two or three cars? Some people will. Could you use public transport? Could you walk or cycle, and so incorporate exercise into daily life (and maybe remove the need to use the gym) - there have been quite a few 'research studies' lately that have shown that those who walk or use public transport for commuting tend to be leaner and more healthy. I find it amazing that such research gets funded, since it seems to state the obvious!

3) Is eating and drinking out a necessity of daily life or a luxury? For some single people in busy jobs, it might make more sense to eat out more often, depending on their income. I'm not saying I think eating out is wrong - but are you just spending without thinking to make life easier?

4) Do you know how to cook? Buying and cooking fresh seasonal produce brings many health benefits as well as being friendly on the pocket.

5) Is there a 'dream job', or would you be willing to take a less ideal job that provides for your needs? I am not saying that one should not plan, should not prepare and study and apply for jobs that enable the best use of gifts. But there can be times when it is better to accept what is available and keep looking than to consider something not good enough. Career can become an idol - and perhaps when there is success, it is something we must guard against more carefully. However, excellence is good, and can bring great glory to God.

6) Do your children really need more things? Will getting the latest toy or gadget benefit them? How? Is your tablet device really for educational use only? Again, entertainment is not wrong in itself, but it seems to be a big area where people are wont to deceive themselves.

7) Is leisure time a right or a privilege? And what about holidays? (I would agree that rest is a God-given necessity and should be delighted in when there is opportunity!) How should leisure time and holidays be best used?

I could go on. I am aware of the flip-side. Living simply and frugally can equally become an idol. It can become a source of pride. I do not intend to sound judgemental in the comments I have made, but have been quite astounded when I see well educated, sensible people simply appear not to really consider the best use of their time and resources. I get frustrated when I see young Christians feeling under pressure from their parents to adopt a certain lifestyle, rather than feeling free to follow the risky calling God has on their lives. It bothers me a bit when I feel the choices our family make are most misunderstood by Christians! (There are quite a few secular, postmodern friends who accept our choices, since 'You need to do what is right for you', a philosophy which I do not hold)

My question today is this: Are there areas of your life where you simply follow the obvious or well trodden path, rather than intentionally seeking God's will?

Friday, 1 April 2016

Home Education and Adoption

Yesterday, we were approved as potential adoptive parents! We underwent a fairly detailed, three-month long social work assessment and yesterday was 'panel'. It had been suggested that there may be concerns about our decision to home educate. Part of this is due to it not being as well known an option here in the country where we live, and were the usual chestnuts of 'socialisation' etc. As it so happened, God answered our prayers and the adoptive parent representative actually homeschooled her children and was familiar with the benefits, and even of the curriculum we use.

In preparing for panel, I decided to see what had been written about home education and adopted children. Most of what I found was anecdotal, but it makes perfect sense.

1) For me, the strongest argument is that there is no difference between an adopted and a biological child. At least, not in our home. If homeschooling is your first choice, then it is your first choice, whether your children are biological or adopted. Your motivations will be the same. Each child, biological or adopted has unique strengths and limitations, and by home educating them, there is the opportunity to spend the necessary time to explore strengths, to work on weaknesses, to speed up or slow down according to their level of interest and progress.

2) There does tend, in the UK and the USA, to be an assumption that an adopted child will have special educational needs. As indicated in the link above, I do not find that presumption necessarily helpful. However, there is some truth that these children may have been exposed to drugs and alcohol in utero, may have had a poor early bonding experience, and if the child is older, may have been through various types of trauma. Several families have written blogs describing just how helpful home education has been in meeting the individual needs of their child (ie here and here). The UK provides some guidance on homeschooling adopted children here. There may be attachment issues or identity questions which arise later, and again, I would consider that the structure and stability of a home educating family might be the ideal place for a child to be supported through these.

3) Children may come from a different background than the parents. For us, all of our children have been born in different countries and we endeavour to maintain some of the links - celebrating national holidays, learning some recipes, songs, some of the history  - really seeking that the child knows their identity. We are open about adoption, talk about it often, and hope that the adopted children grow with a strong sense of who they are as part of a multicultural family. Some bloggers describe this nicely ie herehere and here)

4) Unless the child is adopted at birth, the family will have missed some of the early life and development of that child. By home educating, there is longer spent together to build that bond - not just between parent and child, but between siblings. This is described here and here.

For us, as we prepare to welcome a new arrival, we plan to continue our usual routine of learning through the richness of daily life, of involving all the children in a range of activities, and spending many many hours reading books together. We know there may be challenges ahead (as with any family!), and believe that our lifestyle provides the best resource to work together as a family and build each child's confidence. Most importantly, we seek to equip our children with a strong biblical worldview providing the foundation for whatever God calls them to in the future.