Written by Phyllis Stephenson, Executive Director
As families grow through adoption there needs to be a focus on assuring each child, birth and adoptive each need to know that they have a unique place in the family system. Many times there is such an intense focus on the adoption process and creating the “homecoming” that children already in the family system may begin to feel as though they are not equally valued.
Some tips to help with this would include:
- Be sure to talk with children who are already family members about their feelings regarding adopting a child and being a sibling.
- Create opportunities for children to share their feelings, ideas, and concerns about adoption.
- If possible engage with families who have adopted so children can experience this with other families.
- Solicit the opinion of your children during the adoption process.
- Keep children informed of delays in the process. If they are looking forward to being a sibling, it may be discouraging when the adoption process is lengthy.
- Share age-appropriate stories and books about adoption.
- Provide individual time with each child during the adoption process and as you grow together are a family in the post-adoption journey.
- When there is sibling conflict, listen to all sides, empower them to create solutions as possible and always make sure consequences align with the behavior, age-ability of the child, and the antecedent of the conflict or behavioral challenge.
- Acknowledge that there are developmental needs and behavioral challenges for the development of all children regardless of their status as biological or adopted.
- Give yourself the freedom to grow in your parenting skills and to accept the uniqueness of each child and your family system. Reach out for support and new ideas to your agency and other resources.
Most of all don’t miss the JOY in the JOurneY of your family!