Birth Parents, Open Adoption, Parenting

We Love You All The Same: Telling Your Children A Sibling Was Placed for Adoption

ImageRecently we received an interesting question from a woman who had worked with our agency a few years ago. And while this situation may seem unusual for some, it is more common than you might think. Melanie is a mother to four young boys. She parents 3 at home and one was placed with his adoptive family three years ago. Her children are preparing to meet one another for the first time.

Melanie Asks:

“I am a birthmom getting ready for a visit with my son and his family. I also have 3 other boys that I have with me. For the first time we are going to get all 4 of the boys together to meet. What do I tell my boys about the one that I placed? Do I just say brother or how do I go about it? They know what the meaning of brother is so I am not sure what I should tell them about him and the upcoming visit. My boys are 5, 4, and 7 months old. My placed son will be age 3 in September. Can someone please help; I don’t know what to say to them to get them ready for the visit?”

Kind of a tough one. So what do you says to three young boys about this? I’m sure they’ll ask questions. Like any other kid they are probably insistent on the how’s, the when’s, the why’s. With Melanie’s permission we asked some of fellow adoption advocates for their opinions, here’s what they had to say…

Wow, this is a hard one to find resources for. Our son (J) was placed with us but his birth mom has an older (D) son that she has with her. We have always been open with J about his adoption and D remembers J since D 3 when J was placed. Thankfully we have an open relationship and the boys get to visit. However D was having a hard time with the adoption for a while and was worried that she would give him up at some point too. What worked for us is we all got together on a visit and birth mom talked to both of the boys about the situation and why she placed J and kept D, she did this in a loving way and allowed them to ask questions. We also had a great book The Best For You by Kelsey Stewart that talks about why a mom places a child. We had to change a few things in the book to make it applicable but it worked for us. Let me know if you have any questions as I said we have a great relationship and the boys love their visits but understand their lives better through it all.- Sarah

I don’t think this is hard at all. We visit with my grandson. He was given up to a great family. My daughter is his “belly Mommy” and as far as his siblings…he is their BROTHER! Simple is that. Why make things confusing for them? Explain to them you gave him up because you love him and (the reasons) or don’t tell them at all unless they ask. Don’t lie to them. Children are so smart, they can see through that. Just make sure you also show all children love when you are all together. Play as a group, hug as a group…it will go fine! You’ll see…open adoption is great. -Joni

It is funny because I think you answered this yourself Melanie when you referred to “my son and his family”. I know for us our daughter G will know that she has a sister here that she lives with and two sisters that live with her birthmom. G is only 8 months old so I may be back asking for advice in years to come – good luck. I also believe talking as a group during the visit is important and most of all ENJOY your time together. You all deserve that. Open adoption is really a wonderful thing! –Mary

My daughter and son both know their siblings and they all know they are siblings. My daughter has no relationship with her birth mom, but has been able to connect with her other siblings that were also placed for adoption. I feel being honest is the best thing you can do for all your children. – Cynthia

I like the ideas here especially letting the children guide the level of information with their questions. We are a family and we need to enjoy our time together and act like family. I think that everything, especially sharing the love equally, will come natural for us all. – Tracy

Although everyone has their own opinions on this situation; I think we can say that being honest with your children is the best way to go.  They don’t have to know the details when they are 5 years old but openness with your children alleviates more problems than it causes.  By letting each child know that they were all loved the same; they will all be  confident in who they are as well as confident in the relationships within the family.

3 thoughts on “We Love You All The Same: Telling Your Children A Sibling Was Placed for Adoption”

  1. Thank you so very much Sarah for mentioning my book in your response! I appreciate your kind words and like to hear that your family not only enjoyed the book but also that you found it useful when talking about adoption to your children.

    Melanie, very difficult question and I know how very hard it is to not only have this conversation with your children, but anticipate this coming visit. Follow your heart. Let the kids lead you and allow them to ask all the question they may have. Keep in mind that children are people just like you and me and they appreciate honesty just as much as we adults do.

    I hope to hear back from you on how the visit went. Sharing your thoughts will only help many more sort through their feelings and journeys as well. All my best to you!

  2. It’s so nice to see such whole, healthy children being raised in their natural environment. The separate one-on-one times with parents is a really great strategy. It is also a lifesaver to any parent of young bear cubs, which is how I used to describe my two, now 26 and 30… Now, they both work with us on the farm. Rye chose well, didn’t he? It’s so rewarding to watch a child learn the enjoyments of hard, physical work. Too many children are allowed to sit on their rumps all day in front of a computer game instead of using their bodies as they were intended to be used. Those poor children are being done a great disservice. You have found the secret to a long, happy life for you, and your boys, who will, all too soon, become whole, healthy men. Bravo to you and Penny!

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