If you have older children, whether biological or also adopted,
there are some unique issues that you have to deal with when
adopting another child. They will have questions that need to be
answered as well as a desire to feel like they will still be
loved. Let us help you prepare to answer those questions.Be
The first thing parents need to do is to be honest with their
older child(ren). Joan Regan, a social worker with Holt
International Children's Services, reminds parents that children
can sense when something is changing and they may be anxious
about the unknown.
Talk about the possibility of another child joining the family.
When you have a biological child, the older sibling has months to
get used to the idea and to prepare. When adopting, you should
give older siblings the same amount of time to adjust. When you
have more information, then you can give a specific time frame,
such as after Christmas. Children should also be given notice
that a social worker is coming, not in the role of inspector or
judge, but to help the family decide if adoption is the right
choice for them.
Don't give a choice.Do not give your child a choice in whether or
not you adopt. Susan Watson, Director of Birth Parent Services
for Spence-Chapin N.Y.C., says, "a child shouldn't have the sense
that he has the power to make this enormous family decision.
Parental authority in this area should be recognized from the
start. Your child may feel betrayed if you go ahead with adoption
after your child said 'No'."
Include your child.Include your child in the adoption process as
much as possible. No matter what age your child is, it is
important to talk about the new baby or child that will be
joining your family. Discuss how the new baby will fit into your
family life, where they will sleep, etc."When an arrival date
seems likely," says Watson, "children can be involved with
preparation like buying bottles, formula and diapers and setting
up the nursery." Older children can discuss the differences in
building a family through adoption or by birth. Some parents
bring their older children to the hospital and involve them in
bringing the baby home.Be careful not to overwhelm your child
with the details. Watson advises, "include children"but don't
overwhelm them with complex information. Procedural, legal and
emotional issues in adoption are tough for adults to understand.
Most children are not developmentally ready to take these on."
Reassure your child.The idea of adoption may bring up fears. Your
child may be afraid of being placed for adoption themselves.
Regan asserts, "explaining that birth parents are unable to
parent at all, due to age, chronic poverty or cultural stigmas,
may help eliminate fears of abandonment if illness or temporary
economic reversals hit your family."Many children fear that their
parents may not love them as much when the new child arrives.
Explain that you have plenty of love for everyone and just want
to add another child to bring more love to the family. Reaffirm
your child's place in the family.Older children may be afraid
that their adopted sibling could be taken away. Reassure your
child that when you adopt, you become that child's family
forever.Adding a sibling to the family is never easy, but if you
prepare your child, the process will be more manageable for
Thank you to Parent Society for the text.
If you or someone you love want to welcome a child into their
lives and families, as my husband and I did, we can