Preparing Your Child for His New Adopted Sibling
Adoption is not only a significant event in the lives of the birth parents, the child and the adoptive parents – this life-changing decision also affects other family members, especially the children. If you are anticipating the addition of another family member through adoption, you also need to consider how this would affect any children you now have.
More often than not, your child, especially if they are younger, will feel one or a combination of these:
– Excitement. “Wow! I have a new brother/sister!” Your child may welcome his new sibling with anticipation, especially if you have laid sufficient groundwork with regards to the process of adoption and the reasons behind it.
– Feelings of being left out. The fanfare and excitement generated by bringing home your new child can make a child in the family feel left out. They may feel that the parents are too focused on the new sibling. When in the past, the spotlight focused solely on the existing child, he may feel that with the arrival, he is left in the shadows.
– Jealousy. This is especially true if the child you are bringing home is an infant or has special needs. Aside from the adjustments the family has to make, you will need to allocate time to the new addition, time which your existing child or children have considered their own.
– Confusion. Whether the new member of your family is your birth child or adopted child, the new arrival can be confusing and sometimes overwhelming. This may be further compounded by feelings that he does not belong to a “normal” family.
It will be helpful to admit that these feelings are natural. Remember, siblings have the tendency to feel the same way with the arrival of a new baby or child. What is important is that you have set the foundation to help make the transition smoother for your existing child.
Addressing Sibling Issues in Your Blended Family
Here are some ways you can help prepare your child for his adopted sibling:
– Discover how he feels. Be sensitive to indications of his feelings regarding the matter. You can arrange for “casual” times when you can simply sit down and discuss the issue. Sometimes, your child may not be as open to you as you would like. Be patient. You can draw how he feels through story-telling or role-playing. Read books about adoption and discuss how he feels about the story.
– Make him a vital part of the process. Don’t make him feel that the adoption preparations, waiting time and the arrival of the new sibling monopolize your time that you don’t have enough time for him anymore. Rather, involve him in the process. Have him help in the preparation of the family profile. If you are opting for an infant adoption, guide him throughout the pregnancy as the baby is growing and developing. If you are opting for an international adoption, involve him in exploring his new sibling’s culture and racial heritage.
– Give him your time and attention. Prior to the arrival of the child who was recently adopted, spend time with your family, especially your child. This is to set a solid foundation of your love for your child. Take the opportunity to play games with him, cuddle with him or do his favorite activities with him. Later, with the coming of his new sibling, make sure that he still has his private time with you, even as you share in activities that include his new sibling. Guide your child into realizing that as your family expands, yours and his capacity to love also expands.
– Let him know what to expect. Discuss with your child how the new addition will impact him and his environment in practical terms. For instance, you could discuss which room the new sibling will have, what kind of care the new addition will need and how he can help. Prepare your child to anticipate any behaviors his new sibling might show.
– Search for opportunities for your family to interact with families with adopted children. Help your child understand that your family is one way to build a family, but it is far from being not “normal”. If you know of friends or loved ones who have also adopted (and hopefully, who has a family member who is about his age), take the opportunity to interact with them. For one, this bolsters the feeling that he is not “alone”. This is also true if you are deciding on adopting a child of a different racial background as yours. Interacting with peers who are also going through the same process helps the child think of how he can deal with the upcoming adoption, as well as how other people in his environment might relate and react to his family.
– Establish simple rules they can follow as they relate to each other. The bottom line is you cannot expect a child to love his siblings simply because you said so. However, you can expect them to treat each other with respect and fairness. One good way to instill this expectation is for you to treat them with respect and fairness as well. Avoid playing favorites and comparing your children with each other. Rather, recognize your child’s individuality and his unique gifts.
A Act of Love Adoptions can provide vital services to families by providing the necessary counseling. This adoption preparation helps prepare not just the parents, but other immediate family members as well, to navigate the sometimes complicated issues related to adoption. A Act of Love Adoption will also provide assistance for adoptive parents with regards to home studies, placements as well as guidance towards complying with regulations and legal requirements for the adoption.