Talking to Children About Adoption – Part 4 of 4

If you are adopting and have other children, either biologically or through adoption, you will need to prepare them for the arrival of a sibling through adoption. If your other child/ren is/are adopted, this is going to bring up questions about their own birth and adoption story. It’s going to be a good opportunity to talk about things that perhaps haven’t been discussed in a while. You also will need to think about and possibly discuss how this next adoption may look very different than theirs. The contact with birthfamilies is likely to be different in these adoptions and if the subsequent adoption has more contact then the earlier one, this may be a hard thing for your child to understand. Be prepared to answer your child’s questions and allow them to grieve the loss of contact.

If your previous child/ren is a result of a biological birth, you’re going to need to prepare your child for the way an adoption works. They will need to learn about different ways families are formed and explore with them how you will be welcoming another family into yours. There are also children’s books about this subject that can provide easy conversation starters.

In either scenario, it’s imperative that your child be involved in the process of the adoption, while still being protected from realities that they may not yet understand. For example, the wait in an adoption can be long (at the IAC, the average wait is 6-18 months) and a young child doesn’t yet have the concept of time or of waiting. While you want to prepare your child for an eventual placement and explore what being a big brother or sister is all about, you don’t want to allow your child to think this is something that is going to happen immediately.

Once you are matched with a potential birthmother, you can begin to make more plans and allow your child to become more involved. They will likely meet the birthmother and birthfamily and be a part of the match process. However, as is the reality of adoption, even though she has chosen your family to adopt her unborn child, she has to make that choice yet again when it comes time to sign the relinquishments. One way to prepare your child for this and for the possibility that she may not place is to explain that she has chosen your family to care for her child until she decides if she can. Once she has signed and the revocation period is over, you can talk to your child about the permanency of the placement. If she does choose to parent, your child (and you) will likely be hurt and disappointed, but you will both be better prepared knowing that you were helping her while she needed time to decide what’s best for her and her child.

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  • It’s really hard to talk to children about adoption and it’s really hard to make them understand that you will be from now on their parent. However, like anything else, there is a way to do it but I guess the most important thing is that you show them the love of a real parent.

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