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As you consider adopting a child — a profoundly wonderful, life-changing act — you might wonder how the adoption might impact the family you and your partner have already created. Specifically, you want to give some thought to navigating the emotions of the children who are already in your home.

No matter the age of the soon-to-be-adopted child or children, you will need to prepare your other children for a new sibling. A child’s ability to handle the adoption will depend sensitively on his or her age and feelings about having a new sibling join the family. In addition, how you respond to the uncertainties affects the delicate situation as well.

Here are some insights for how to make this transition mindfully.

When to Address Adoption

Consider bringing up the adoption with your kids when you start making plans with the adoption agency. Children often sense a big change in the air even before you say anything. If you keep the process a secret, they might feel like the adoption is negative. Since you don’t know when the child will arrive, you will need to explain possible delays, especially if you’re planning an inter-country adoption.

Preschoolers struggle with the concept of time, so your 3 or 4 year old will likely have a hard time understanding the meaning of “next March.” Instead, address the process of adoption as opposed to a specific adoption day. In fact, by keeping an open-ended time frame, you will also minimize continual questions about specific arrival dates from older children.

Discuss the home study aspects of adoption and the necessary paperwork, even if the child isn’t riveted by the details of the red tape, and tell your child about the travel involved. In addition, read relevant books about adoption at the child’s level, such as Motherbridge of Love. Review a new sibling’s possible experience and what might be happening at his or her current orphanage or foster home.

Involving Your Children in the Adoption

You can involve your children in the adoption process in one or more of the following ways:

  • Begin a scrapbook for the child, including pictures of your family, your residence, your town, common activities and places you like to visit.
  • Skype with your future child and include your children in the conversation.
  • Discuss relevant emails with your children to help them feel included.
  • Address your child’s concerns and feelings, but be sure to clarify that the adoption is an adult decision.
  • Connect with your children to ensure they feel your unconditional love and acceptance, and reassure them that you have plenty of love to share with another child.

International Adoptions — Special Considerations

An international adoption might have a higher likelihood of creating special challenges, such the following:

  • The adopted child is special needs
  • The child is at least two years old
  • The child lived in an orphanage
  • The child does not speak English
  • The child suffered trauma

While you and your children might be excited, you will all need to face the possibility that you will experience difficulties, especially during the transition, so prepare accordingly.

Our team can help you with the Minnesota adoption process. Call the law firm of Barna, Guzy & Steffen, Ltd. at (763) 783-5146 for mindful help with the challenges and joys of expanding your family.