foster and adoption - your questions answered

How To Prepare Your Young Child For A New Adopted Sibling

If you already have a child who is under the age of four at home, and you are in the process of trying to adopt another child, you are going to need to explain to your child that they will soon have a sibling. Don't get so caught up in the legal side of the adoption that you forget to explain what is happening to the child you already have. Here are a few strategies for explaining to your child that you are going to adopt their new sibling.

Explain What Adoption Is

The first thing you need to do is explain what adoption is to your child. Once you know you are serious about adoption, you should start explaining to your child what it is. It may take your child a while to understand the concept; if your child understands what adoption is it will make it easier to explain that they are getting a new brother or sister through the adoption process.

Explain that some babies come from their mom's bellies and stay with that mommy. Then explain that some moms need help with raising their baby, so they give their baby to someone else so that they can raise it and love it. Explain that all babies are loved, and that they just take different paths towards finding the family that they were made for.

Try to find books that talk about the adoption process. There is a wealth of children's books designed to help children understand the adoption process. Many of these books are aimed at children who are adopted, but they can work just as well at explaining the process to non-adopted children. Read these books with your child and answer any questions that they have. Incorporate books about adoption into your daily reading time. This will help familiarize your child with adoption and will normalize the process.

Tell Your Child About The Adoption When You Are Sure It Will Go Through

The adoption process can be really long and drawn out. For young children, who do not have a strong grasp of the concept of time, learning that you want to adopt a child before you know that you can will make the process stretch out endlessly for your child.

Wait until you are far enough along in the adoption process to know that it is almost a sure thing to tell your child. Explain to your child that just like the books they have read, they are soon going to have a new adopted sibling. Make sure that you emphasis that this new child will be their brother or sister, and that you and your partner will be their parents.

Explain that you are not sure exactly what day their new sibling will join your family. If you have any idea of the time frame, try to relate it to another event in your child's life that they can understand.

If you have a young child who is under the age of four, and you are in the process of adopting another child, use books to help your child understand the adoption process. Share the news about a new sibling when you know it is a sure thing; that way, your child will not be disappointed if they don't get a new brother or sister and they will not have to wait too long. If you need more advice about how to talk about adoption with your child, see if your family law attorney (like those at Grenadier, Starace, Duffett & Keisler, PC) has any suggestions or can direct you to resources that will help you with this important part of the adoption process.