Preparing Older Siblings for an Adoption

Preparing Older Siblings for an Adoption

Adoption is a process with many emotional ups-and-downs. One minute, you’re shouting from the rooftops that you’ve been matched with a birth family. The next, you might be having to explain that the situation didn’t work out. If a match does fall through, you might have to deal with disappointed children. Your older children should be aware of the adoption process, but there are certain ways to help your kids prepare that will allow them to better deal with the emotional aspects of the process. Here are a few tips for preparing older siblings for an adoption.

Keep your circle small

While adoption is something you should be excited about and able to discuss with friends and family, you should consider keeping adoption news on the down low. It’s a wonderful thing to share your excitement with those around you, whether on a Facebook post or extensive email chain. But when the tough times come around, it is a much more private matter. Spending time healing with your family and closest love ones will be much more helpful than comments on Facebook. Make adoption and the news, both good and bad, that comes with it a family matter. And that includes your children. You should absolutely have conversations with your children about how your family will change and grow. You can share your exciting news with the rest of the world when you finally bring your child home.

Talk to your kids about the reality of the process

You want your kids to be excited about having a new brother or sister in the family, but you also need to be honest, letting them know that the adoption process is not easy or quick. In terms your children can understand, tell them that adoption can be a very difficult time. A mother somewhere must make the brave and difficult decision to place her baby with a loving family, and she may not completely decide until the baby is born. There is no need to set your children up for disappointment, as you want them to be happy and excited about the idea of a new sibling, but gently remind them that things can change quickly when it comes to adoption.

Talk about how things will change for your family

Despite it being a beautiful and amazing process, people who have not experienced adoption often feel uncomfortable with the subject. In addition, many of those who have not been through the process do not understand how to talk about adoption in a respectful and accurate terms. Let your children know that they may encounter others who do not totally understand the nature of your family. Prepare your children to respond to questions and comments about their family and adoptive sibling. Teach your children how they can respond to these questions in a way that will respectfully educate others about adoption and what it means to be an adoptive family.

Talk about birth mothers

In both closed and open adoptions, tell your children what a brave and selfless sacrifice their new sibling’s birth mother and family are making to complete your own family. Teach them to be grateful and respectful to the woman that brought their cherished brother or sister into the world. And in open adoptions, let your children know that she is also a part of the family in a very special way.

The best way to help your children prepare for adoption is to be open and honest. While you may not be able to discuss every detail of the adoption process with your children, they should have an understanding of the way it works and how adopting a sibling will affect the family, both in wonderful ways, and perhaps sometimes in confusing ways. Every family is different, so use these tips as a starting point, and find ways to educate and prepare your children that work best for your family.

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