Adopting a child is a life-changing event that induces both excitement and anxiety for potential parents. If you already have children at home, chances are that they are experiencing the same emotions. One of the most important parenting tips for adoptive families with other children is to talk to your kids about adoption and encourage the discussion of emotions and expectations. To help ease the transition for your children, it’s important to maintain an open dialogue with them throughout the adoption process, as well as after your new family member comes home.
Before the Adoption
Before you begin the adoption, talking to your kids about adoption and life with a new sibling is very important. Allow your children to express their feelings about the idea, and address their concerns with compassion. A child may worry that the new addition to the family will replace him or her. Reassure your children by telling them how much they mean to you. Make sure your children know that, though you will love the adopted child just as much, your feelings for your other children will never change.
While You Wait
During the adoption process, prepare each child for the new addition by discussing his or her expectations for the experience. Some children develop unrealistic fantasies about the adoption process. Let your child know that the relationship with a new sibling will not immediately be perfect. It may take time for the new siblings to get used to each other, and conflicts will inevitably occur. Make sure your child knows that the new sibling may require some extra attention at first.
During the Adjustment Period
After your new family member arrives, regularly remind your children of how much you love them. Involve your children in the adjustment process by discussing ways to make the new sibling feel welcome. Talk about any conflicts that occur, allow your children to tell you how they feel about their new sibling, and try to help your children understand how the new sibling is feeling as well. Adding a new sibling to the family isn’t easy for anyone involved. Make sure your children know that the situation will improve with time and effort.