Choosing to adopt is a big decision, a choice that will change almost everything about your life. It’s scary, exciting and overwhelming. And deciding to adopt after you have already had biological children comes with an added challenge: explaining adoption to your children.
You may feel scared that your children will not understand or maybe even feel upset about the idea of adopting another child, but children are far more accepting than we give them credit for. It is true that children have a tendency to feel insecure when big changes happen in their life. However, if you are properly prepared to face the task ahead then your children will adjust just the way you will.
Explaining Adoption Tips
Having to explain your adoption decision to your biological children is not going to be easy, but it doesn’t need to be complicated. Here are some essential tips that will help you prepare for this new stage in your life:
Be honest with your child/children. Children can sense change and this can make them uneasy, especially if their parents are keeping them in the dark. Oftentimes, parents wonder when is the best time to tell their child that they are planning to add a new sibling to the family through adoption. Should they wait until everything is official or once they decide to go through with it? This uncertainty is normal because of the precarious nature of adoption. Depending on the type of adoption you are looking into, it can take up to a few years to finalize things.
The best approach is to be honest with your children. Introduce the idea of adoption early on by discussing what adoption is and asking them how they feel about it. Once things in your adoption plan start moving along, you can start talking about the possibility of adding a new sibling to the family. Make sure to give them a time frame they can understand and not to surprise them.
Encourage discussion and answer questions. On that note, your child will probably have a million questions. These questions might be extensive and personal. But in order to help your child feel comfortable and excited about the prospect of a new sibling, it’s best to answer every question that comes up. Children are naturally very curious and will want to know why you are choosing to adopt. Whatever the reason is for your adoption plan, be sure to tell your child and answer their questions about it.
More than just answering questions, share your feelings as well. Through this and being honest with your child, you are inviting them to do the same. Explain to them how adoption makes you feel, why you are doing it and how you hope to see your children grow.
Keep it age appropriate. With that being said, you want to be sure that you are speaking to your audience. The ins and outs of adoption and the reasons for it will be lost on a young child. But if your child is an adolescent, you can expect much more from them. Use age-appropriate language when talking about your planned adoption and use various resources aimed at your child’s age. There are so many books out there today that can help your child understand the adoption of a sibling.
Be emotionally available. Your biological children will need reassurance from you that your decision to adopt is a positive thing. Children can feel insecure when big changes arise in their lives, and adopting a new sibling may make them feel inadequate. Even if it seems silly that they should feel that way, take extra time to be emotionally available for your child. Spend more time with them and tell them that your choice to adopt has nothing to do with them and that you love them.
Learn and practice appropriate adoption language. Appropriate adoption language is essential for every parent that decides to adopt, whether they already have biological children or not. Positive adoption language makes a huge difference in the life of an adoptee and it is important to teach your children from the beginning to be thoughtful about their words.
If you are adopting a child of a different race or ethnicity, teach your child about that culture. Adopting outside of your race, whether international or not, is an amazing experience. It can also be used as a teaching moment for your children. Not only will open their eyes to new cultures, but it will be essential in helping to raise your adopted child and making them feel comfortable and loved in their family.
Involve them in the process. Like many of the tips mentioned, your child’s age will affect how much you can truly involve them. Your child will feel special to know that they were a part of expanding your family. For example, if you are adopting a child from foster care or is older than an infant, you can arrange a time for the children to meet, play and form a bond. Encouraging discussion and teaching your child about the adoption process will also help your child transition with ease.
Find support. As with everything in adoption, support is key. Every party involved in the adoption process will need support along the way and this extends to your biological children as well. There are so many resources out there thanks to the internet. Make it a priority to utilize them. Finding groups for adopted children and siblings of adopted children is a great way to show your children that adoption is normal and can actually be really cool. Allowing them to see other families with similar dynamics will help them adjust to your new family member.
Children Are More Accepting
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that children are open and accepting of new and different things than adults. They are adaptable and flexible. They are honest and loving. Your fears about how your biological child will handle a new adopted sibling are most rooted in your own insecurities about a very new and somewhat scary experience. And it’s totally normal! The best thing you can do for your children, ALL your children, is to give them love and reassurance.
Adoption Choices of Nevada
If you are currently in the process of adopting a baby and have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact, Adoption Choices of Nevada. You may visit the website here or contact us by 775-825-4673 (Reno Office) or 702-474-4673 (Las Vegas Office). Our hours are Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm PST.
Support Adoption Choices
Adoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowdrise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more.
However, we can’t do it alone. Please read up on our programs and donate money where you are able. Your donation will make a huge impact.
About the Author
Devon Thornton is a graduate of the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor’s in Creative Writing. She has recently moved from Orlando, FL to Clarksville, TN, and is pursuing her writing career with Adoption Choices and also writing personal essays in her free time. Devon is an avid reader and a big Harry Potter fan.
When she’s not curled up reading a book, you can find her somewhere on a hike or a camping trip. She loves her cat, Minerva, and considers herself a true animal lover. She hopes one day to publish a book of essays and to maybe meet J.K. Rowling.
Chapman, Denalee. “How to Talk With Your Biological Kids About Adoption.” Adoption.com, 4 Aug. 2016, adoption.com/how-to-talk-with-your-biological-kids-about-adoption.
“Explaining Adoption To Your Other Children.” Adoption Network, Adoption Network Law Center – Safer Than Adoption Agencies, adoptionnetwork.com/unplanned-pregnancy/explaining-adoption-to-your-other-children.
“The Blended Family.” Adoption & Beyond, 15 July 2015, adoption-beyond.org/the-blended-family/.