When children get new siblings, it can be simultaneously joyful, confusing, and even frightening for them—especially if they were used to being the sole focus of their parents’ attention.
A child may react in a variety of different ways when a new child is added to his or her family, and the reactions may pose unique challenges if the sibling is adopted. Many children relish having a new sibling and playmate, but others may find it difficult to cope with a changing family dynamic. Most children experience a combination of both excitement and upset.
If you’re planning on adopting or fostering a child, here are a few steps you can take to prepare your child for the arrival of a new sibling:
Tell your child what’s happening as soon as the process begins
While very young children may not be able to fully process adoption or fostering and what it means for their lives and their families until right before it happens, older children—including children in the first years of elementary school—should be told as soon as you’ve filed paperwork to begin the process. Keep your child engaged in the process by asking questions and addressing any concerns he or she has about adding a child to the family.
Introduce your child to families with adopted children
Some children may not realize that adopted families look and act just like other families that they see at school or in public. If you know another family that has adopted children, try to arrange a time when your child can meet them. In addition to easing some of the fears and uncertainties your child may have about introducing a sibling, it can also help him or her prepare for a sibling that may be of a different race, gender, or nationality.
Give your child opportunities to help prepare for the arrival of the new sibling
Once you’ve been matched with a child, make sure your child knows what he or she looks like and where he or she is from. Then, allow your child the opportunity to prepare your home for his or her arrival. Tasks such as picking out clothing, strollers, bedding, and choosing paint colors for the bedroom can help your child feel more involved in the process and lay the groundwork for a strong bond with his or her new sibling.
Prepare for the first meeting carefully
Many parents who travel to adopt a child leave their other children in the care of friends, relatives, or sitters while they make the journey. Others bring their children with them so that the entire family can be introduced at the same time. Consider the age of your children and their tolerance for traveling before making this decision. There are pros and cons to both approaches, and it’s ultimately a personal decision for every family.
Adoption Is Complex. Nashville’s Adoption Law Center is Here to Help.
Whether you’re planning on adopting an international child or a child born in the United States, there are many legal processes and qualifications that you must complete to be approved. In addition, you may have many questions about the adoption process, including what to expect and what your rights as an adoptive parent are.
At Adoption Law Center of Middle Tennessee, we give parents and families the practical and legal guidance they need every step of the way. Contact us today to arrange a free consultation. Our phone number is (615) 543-8640.