Adopting with a child already in the home is a different process from a first-child adoption, so you need to be sure you’re considering the children already living with you for the big step of expanding the family and adding a sibling. In this article, we’ll discuss parenting tips for helping siblings when adopting a new child.
Educate Your Child
Reading is a great tool for this. There are plenty of books and online resources available to read with your child, or give them to read depending on age, that can help prepare them for a sibling. Some reading recommendations include Kinda Like Brothers, Bringing Asha Home, and All About Adoption: How Families are Made and How Kids Feel About It. Setting aside some time to read together also cultivates a sense of trust and inclusion in this important family decision.
Be Honest in Your Conversations and Explanations
Honest communication and answers to questions are very important in preparing children already in the home for adoption. They are likely to have many questions. Answering them with honesty and explaining the process will help them be comfortable with the idea of adoption and talking with social workers and other professionals involved.
Set Realistic Expectations
Home life will inevitably change. Be sure to set realistic expectations with your child. Promises that this new sibling will definitely become a part of the family cannot be kept 100% of the time since the birth mother reserves the right to change her mind, the process can be long and complicated, or the adoptive infant’s biological family can become a part of the process as well. Also, it is important to expect what will change and what won’t in the household. Perhaps now your child already in the home will have to share their room or some clothes or toys. It is also important to emphasize your love for them and their place as part of the family will not change.
Get Your Child Involved
Involving your child in the adoption process helps them feel like they are a valued member of the family and have a role in decisions. Shopping for new toys or clothes for the adopted sibling or helping decorate their room are creative and fun ways to excite the child already at home.
Spend Time Together
Spending quality time together reassures them that they are not being replaced, but rather becoming a part of a bigger family. Also, it takes the pressure and attention off the adoption process for a little, as not to overwhelm the children already at home. Be sure not to fixate or focus on adoption all the time and set aside family bonding time to strengthen your own relationships and be ready to welcome a new addition into a supportive, strong familial system.
Give Your Child Responsibility
Introducing responsibility for children already at home can help once you bring home the adoptive child. Younger children could begin cleaning up after themselves or getting simple snacks or water. Older children can help with dishes or taking out the trash. By relying on them, they can feel as an important valued member of the family. Also, it can make your life easier when you have an adopted infant in the home and more responsibilities with them.
Creating a Supportive and Inclusive Home
Preparation is key to creating a supportive and inclusive home. Through education, communication, and meaningful family time, children already at home can be open-minded, excited, and ready for their new sibling as you are.