Adoption for Families with Children: How to Help Siblings

Many adoptions that involve families who already have children. This situation brings its own set of adjustments and challenges. Parents need to help children get used to situations involving a new family member. Here are a few tips to help families make the adoption process easier. 

  1. Early and frequent communication is key 

Be certain to make sure your communication is age appropriate for your children and fits the unique circumstances surrounding the adoption.

If you have younger children, you may want to wait until you are matched with your adoptive child or are ready to bring them home before you discuss the adoption. Often younger children don’t have a firm grasp of time and may become anxious if the process drags out too long. Older children are more likely to benefit from early discussions giving them time to process their feelings about the adoption.

Be sure to discuss what children can expect once their adopted sibling comes home. Take the time to have multiple discussions about the upcoming adoption and prepare your children on how your family situation may change.

  1. Acknowledge your children’s feelings

Each child will have unique feelings about the adoption of a new sibling. These feelings may not always be positive. Feelings of anger, resentment, or jealousy are normal. Always provide a safe place for kids to express their feelings, both good and bad to help them work through any challenges.

  1. Include one-on-one time with the other siblings

A newly adopted child generally requires a great deal of attention. As a parent, you will need to spend large amounts of time bonding with them and helping them adjust to a new family dynamic, providing for their physical needs, and helping them work through their own feelings regarding the adoption. 

This can make other children feel as if they are being left out. To prevent feelings of jealousy and resentment, set aside regular one-on-one time with other children. Carving out special time with each allows you to communicate your continued love and commitment.

  1. Allow children to help

Finding ways for your children to help their new sibling transition will ensure everyone feels part of the process.  This can help avoid frustration and jealousy by allowing the siblings to be directly involved in the care of their new sibling.

The right preparation and communication prior to adoption will help your family with this important transition. If you feel overwhelmed with this process, a licensed family therapist can help. 

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