Integrating an Adopted Child with Your Biological Children

Integrating an Adopted Child with Your Biological Children

Jon and Maggie have a beautiful boy they named Nat. He is a rambunctious 7 year-old who seems to never run out of energy. Jon and Maggie love Nat as much as any parent could, but their original dream was to have two children. Sadly, Maggie had complications during Nat’s delivery that resulted in her not being able to bear any more children. That is when they turned to adoption – specifically, adopting 5 year-old, Tara. The couple is so excited to bring Tara home at the end of the adoption process, but are worried about how Nat might feel and react to having a younger sister all of a sudden.

Going through an adoption process to add another member to your family can be a very exciting time. You get another child to raise as your own and help prepare them for the world. However, there are situations parents must consider and prepare for, such as how your own biological children will react to another child being brought into their lives. Every parent wants their children to get along and love each other, and that applies to biological and adopted children, too. It is important to realize though, that adopting a child is going to be a bit different than if you as the parents had another biological child. Here are some top things to consider when preparing to bring your biological children and your adopted child together.

How will your biological children feel and react

Maggie and Jon knew that in order to have the best chance of succeeding with bringing Tara home and introducing her to Nat, that they needed to prepare him for it in advance. In order to do this, they sat Nat down and told him how they wanted him to have a sibling, but problems made that hard. However, thankfully they found a way to have one, and that she would become a part of their family in a few months. In order to make sure Nat was on the same page as them, they asked him how he felt about having a little sister soon. Nat’s reaction was not as happy as they had hoped. 

He responded by saying he didn’t need a little sister and that if he had one he wouldn’t have as much alone time with his parents. Jon and Maggie knew he might feel this way, and so to fix this challenge they explained to Nat how having a little sister would decrease their time with him but, it would also make life more fun! Wouldn’t he enjoy having someone to play with when Mom and Dad are busy or working? And his little sister would look up to him to be her hero, wouldn’t he like to be someone’s hero? Jon and Maggie also told Nat that they would still spend one on one time with him even when he has a little sister, but they would also spend one on one time with her.

After hearing all this, Nat was happy because it was only fair he and his little sister both got time with their parents alone. Not to mention he liked the idea of not having to play alone anymore and being a real life hero, not just playing pretend to be a hero.

Being a child in a home where your parents are going to bring another child into can be a little scary. They may wonder why their parents even wanted another child – were they not enough, are they being replaced? A child should never feel less than loved even if an adopted child enters the picture. It is important to consider how your biological child would be feeling if you as their parent go through an adoption process. The key to helping your biological child adapt to a potential new sibling is to always keep communication open. Don’t leave them out of the loop, and try to include them as much as you can in the process.

If your child has a hard time coming to terms with having a new sibling, then make sure to sit down and talk about it with them. Be sure to show how this would be beneficial for the adopted child and their family in positive ways. Another important factor is to make sure the child knows they are not being replaced and that you are not adopting because they weren’t enough. A child that feels this way will have a very hard time connecting and getting along with their adopted sibling.

How will your adopted child react

As their final date for the adoption of Tara was drawing closer, Jon and Maggie wanted to help make her as prepared as possible for coming home and living with them and Nat. Throughout the adoption process they made it clear to Tara that they already had a little boy who was close to her age. They described him as full of energy and very nice. While Tara was a little nervous about living 24/7 with a new family and their son, the way the couple described Nat to her made her excited. They told her Nat would be different then all the other kids at the adoption center she stayed at because he was special. 

How was he going to be special to Tara? Well, the couple explained that Nat would be special to Tara because he would be her older brother, the only one in the world she would have, and it would be a relationship just for her. They also said Nat was happy to meet Tara because she was going to be special, too. Tara was so happy to be considered special by the couple and by what she would soon see as her one and only brother to go through life with.

Going from foster care or group homes to a small family can be a scary experience for an adopted child to go through. While they are definitely feeling excited and hopeful they also will be experiencing nervousness and fear of the unknown. In order to help prevent this from having a big impact on the child, try to give them as much information about what they have to look forward to as possible. The more they know and can prepare for, the less likely they will be super nervous or fearful. 

If they are anyway, do your best to ask them why they feel this way and if there is anything you can do to help them feel better. Acknowledging their feelings and letting them know you want to help them will also make it easier to form a bond with your new adopted child.

How to help them all get along

After bringing Tara home, Jon and Maggie had hope that the children would immediately hit it off and become best friends. Unfortunately, that was not how it happened. Tara was still nervous and because of that tended to follow the couple around and never stray far from them. This made Nat mad because now he still didn’t have a playmate and he thought Tara was getting all the one on one time with his parents. When the couple realized what was happening, they decided to put a plan into action. They joined in on Nat’s playing, which because Tara followed them around, caused her to join in, too. After doing this a few times, the couple were happy to see Tara start to play with Nat on her own and follow the couple around less and less. This of course made Nat happy too because he finally had someone to play with, even without the grownups.

Having two children or more where one is adopted and the others are not can be a bit challenging in the beginning. Your adopted child will need more attention at the start to make sure they are settling in comfortably and know how your family works. While this is a part of the process that can not be avoided, because it is essential to the adopted child’s health, it is important to not let this take over all your time. Make sure to still give time and attention to your other children and even try to get them involved in helping their adopted sibling settling in. This would encourage bond-building between the children.

What to do if they are not getting along

Sometimes siblings have a harder time getting along, even though the parents may try everything they can think of in the home to do. Unfortunately, if none of those ideas work there are a few last resorts. One would be to just tough it out. These things can take time, more time then the parents expected or thought it would, but that just comes with the territory of expanding your family through adoption. If time doesn’t work either, then one other option would be to see a family therapist or counseling for the children. Therapists and counselors are trained to be able to help in situations like this where the parents don’t know what else to do or how to solve this challenge. As long as you are proactive and have prior thought to all this, no matter what life throws at you, you can and will succeed!

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