Families come in all shapes and sizes – and not all families are built on DNA alone. Some families are grown through adoption, some come biologically, and then there are many families that grow from a combination of the two.
If you are considering adoption and you have a biological child already, you may be wondering about your family dynamic and how it will change. You may also wonder how to avoid any favoritism and meet each child’s unique needs while respecting – and celebrating – their differences. All children have the same basic needs, such as having a safe, stable, and loving home. There are, however, some key elements to keep in mind when raising a blended family.
Many families today choose to grow their families through adoption after welcoming a biological child into their lives. There are many reasons for this. Some couples face secondary infertility and t wish to expand their family. Some have always wanted to adopt a child and, a few years after having their biological child, the timing just feels right.
No matter the reason, growing your family through adoption is a wonderful decision. You will be filling your home with even more love as you watch your children grow up together. It is completely normal, however, for you to have some questions about how adoption will impact your family (especially your child) and how it will impact the child you are soon to adopt.
Below we explore some “adoption after biological child” considerations and provide tips on how to have the best adoption experience possible.
Prepare Your Biological Child
As you start to prepare yourself and your home for another little one, be sure to prepare your child for the new baby, as well. Regardless of how you welcome subsequent children (through pregnancy or adoption), a sibling will be an adjustment for a child. You want your firstborn to be excited about this change. Spend the months leading up to your adoption talking to your child. Try to keep it as positive as possible, with a lot of the focus on how your child will be a big brother or sister. You can also enjoy making plans, as a family, for new family traditions and memories you want to make in the future.
If your child is old enough, you can talk about how he or she can help you once the baby has arrived. These helpful tasks can be catered to your child’s age. A toddler can help with diaper changes (i.e. passing over a clean diaper) or bottle feeding, and older children may be able to teach baby new games or even babysit someday.
The more you discuss the adoption with your child now, the better. Depending on your child’s age, it will take a few conversations to explain what adoption is and how it works. Once you have explained it thoroughly enough, you can begin to get your child excited for the new addition.
It is important for all families – whether they adopt or have biological children – to beware of favoritism or double standards between siblings. This topic can be particularly sensitive for blended families, as you do not want feelings of resentment related to the adoption to arise. Whatever your rules are in the house, stick to those rules no matter the child. As long as you show each child the same amount of respect and discipline, your children will see, through your everyday actions, that the love you have for them is equal.
Do Not Ignore Differences
Oftentimes, children who were adopted do not look like the rest of their family. Depending on the ethnicity and race of the baby and your family’s background, the physical difference may be obvious. This can be a sensitive area with a blended family, as your child will grow up seeing that physical difference between himself and the rest of your clan. It is important to not ignore these differences, but rather, celebrate them.
You will love your adoptive child and may be tempted to ignore the difference in skin tone, this is not the right narrative for your child. Your child’s ethnic, racial and genetic background is a part of who he is, so your acknowledgement of this aspect is crucial. If you act blind to the color of his skin, or hair color, or height, he or she could feel overlooked as a person.
Ensuring these cultural differences are not ignored is one thing – celebrating them is another! As an adoptive parent, you should take time to learn about your child’s roots and get to know others in your community who share this background. Do what you can to make her ethnicity a part of your family. If your child is Asian-American, for example, introduce classic Asian cuisine into your diet. Take regular trips to museums or see live shows that celebrate Asian art. Listen to Asian music in your home. Deepening your understanding of – and building your connection with – your child’s cultural background will help her feel well-adjusted. This will also help your entire family learn about diversity and embracing one’s roots, which your biological child will also love!
Expect a Typical Sibling Relationship & Set the Tone
Once your family has adjusted to the new addition, you should expect your children to have a fairly typical sibling relationship. There will certainly be moments of bickering and disagreements, but this is to be expected in any family with multiple children. As long as your firstborn is prepared for this adoption and is shown lots of love throughout it all – such as being involved in welcoming baby home – he should make a good adjustment and come to love his younger sibling.
It is also important to remember that you, the parent, have the power to set the tone here. Your children should understand that it is not a matter of “biological” vs. “adopted”. You are one family unit that loves one another equally, and it is important that your language, behaviors, and actions reflect this.
For Extra Guidance…
If you or your family are considering adoption but are unsure about the transition to becoming a blended family, it is a good idea to seek out some professional counseling. The caring staff at Adoptions With Love can help you prepare and work out any adoption-related challenges you may be facing throughout this journey. Our professional counselors have been working with adoptive families of all kinds since 1986. We keep in touch with adoptive families for many years following the adoption.
If you would like even more information about adoption, contact Adoptions With Love today. Let us help you continue to grow your family as you take this amazing journey toward adoption.