Many parents use various methods to grow their families which include birth, surrogacy, IVF, IUI, and adoption. Sometimes parents use a mixture of these methods, especially using a combination of birth and adoption. Families with both adopted and biological children face a distinctive set of challenges and some parents may feel pressured to make sure their children all feel like they are being treated equally. It is important to keep in mind that it would be nearly impossible to treat all children equally BUT you must treat them all fairly and according to their needs.
If your family is planning to adopt a second child or more children, there are some things you should keep in mind to prepare both your adopted children and biological children for the process. Here are some tips for making sure all your children don’t get feelings of jealousy and all feel safe, loved, and accepted into your family and home.
- Gather as much information as you can about your adopted child’s history. Make sure to share as much of it as you can with your child or children already living in your home.
- Educate your children about adoption. If you have young children in your home it may be difficult for them to understand the adoption process but if you have older children, teach them about adoption and use the appropriate terminology. Make sure to use love language when explaining the process and encourage your child to do the same. Let your kids ask questions and understand they might be curious as to why their sibling’s birth mother decided to place them for adoption and share as many details as you can about this with them but emphasize the importance of keeping these family details private.
- Prepare the existing children in your home for the new sibling they are about to have. If they are having feelings of anxiety or insecurity about this new addition, assure them everything will work out and your love for them won’t change.
- Include your existing children in the process and make them feel like they are involved in this new change. You can do fun activities with your existing children to help welcome their new sibling like painting or drawing pictures or posters for their new siblings or going to the toy store to get them a small welcoming gift.
- Avoid favoritism and treat your children fairly. Some parents may not even notice that they may be giving special treatment to either their biological children or adopted children but be aware of your actions and make sure you are being consistent in the way that you are treating your kids.
- Confront ethnic differences if you are adopting transracially as well as physical differences. Explain these differences to your children and stress to them that diversity is beautiful. If you’re adopting a child of a different race, incorporate their cultural traditions into your family.
- Acknowledge birth order. If you’re adopting out of birth order of the children already present in your home, take into consideration that older or younger children may feel removed from their role within the family. Take their feelings about this change into consideration before deciding to adopt out of chronological birth order.
- Let your kids have a chance to get to know each other. Remember it’s okay for your kids to take it slow as this process takes time. Don’t make your kids feel like they must rush this transition.
- Incorporate regular family meetings to give everyone a chance to feel heard. It makes for a healthy and happy family when you keep the channels of communication open with everyone in your home and can make all the difference during a big transition like this. Make sure you are taking the time out to listen to your children individually.
- Talk to a social worker, family counselor, or adoption specialist if your family is having difficulties with this new transition. You don’t have to go through this alone and if your children especially are having a tough time adjusting and are acting out, it might be a promising idea to ask a professional for help.
If a new child is entering your family, be honest and fair with all your children. This will ensure a solid foundation for your blended family. When all is said and done, a positive attitude goes a long way and your responses as a parent should reassure all your children that they are all simply your children – whether adopted or biological. Celebrate your blended family and if you follow the tips above, you will be on your way to having a blend that happens genuinely.