The prospect of adding a new child to your family can be incredibly exciting. Your children may be over the moon at the idea of adding a new sibling into the family. However, in adoption, there are many unknowns that come with any adoption journey, and that can be scary for anyone. This could especially be true for your children.
Welcoming a new sibling can bring a host of emotions and thoughts. It is important that you recognize that your child’s feelings on adoption may differ from yours. While you may be very excited, you may find that your child has hesitations. This is completely normal and completely okay if true for you. They may be very excited but still have a lot of questions. Take the time to communicate the idea of adoption before pursuing it. This does not mean that your child has the final say on adoption, but it is good to bring up the topic and spend some time answering questions before taking the leap.
It is also important to make sure that your family is in a place where adoption makes sense for you. In regards to your children, you will need to consider many different factors such as emotional well-being and finances. Children are expensive no matter how they come to you. It is important to be taking into account if adding another child to your home would be detrimental to your financial state.
If your other children are going through something emotionally or struggling with a physical illness, it may be wise to delay any adoption proceedings until the current situation is more stable. If you are struggling at this time in your life, is it is okay to say, “Not right now.” This does not mean that you will never adopt. This doesn’t even mean that you will not adopt in the near future. At the end of the day, you just have to be realistic with your situation.
My husband and I have been in a situation where “right now” is not a good time. We are currently in that situation. Life is not too crazy, but right now is simply not the time to add a child to our home. We would not be able to give him or her enough attention or give attention to the children that we already have in our home. We will adopt more down the line, but right now, we have to do what makes sense for our family. As you are considering adoption with other children in the home, make sure that you’re considering what makes sense for your family at this time based on your current situation.
Adding another child to your home will not only affect the children within your home but will also affect the new child. If you are adopting an older child, it is important to consider if the child you are adopting will flourish in a home that already has children. Many times, a child’s profile will note if they would do well in a home with other children or would need to be in a home as an only child. This can especially be true for kids who have experienced trauma that would be triggered by other children in the home.
If you already have children in the home, it’s important to consider their ages. When we adopted my daughter, my boys were 15 years old, 5 years old, and 2 years old. While the 15-year-old and the 5-year-old were ecstatic about the adoption, there was not much we could do to explain the idea of adoption to our 2-year-old. He did not have any preparation for his new sister. We suddenly just showed up with a new baby, and his life changed forever.
While he struggled quite a bit in the beginning, he did not act out against her except to constantly steal her pacifier from her. However, you could tell that it was hard for him to no longer be the baby of the family. He seemed to regress on a few things and also seemed to be jealous of the time that we spent focusing on the baby. It was a very hard time for us to adjust to having a new baby in the home and having a 2-year-old who we could not communicate with to make it a more smooth transition.
When we adopted our youngest son, our daughter was only 18 months old. We did not know that we are adopting, and it happened kind of suddenly. However, this time, we were a little bit more prepared for what to expect as we had gone through this before with our son. This time around, much of the same happened. Our daughter was jealous of our baby son and could not express it. She started to regress a bit in her sleep patterns, but we needed to give her more attention and to let her know that she was still loved and cared for. This helped the transition to be way more smooth in this case.
I do not say this to scare you away from adopting a child if you already have a young child in the home. However, it is important to prepare for what your child might feel depending on his or her age. A young child might feel jealousy while an older child might feel pushed out. If you have an only child, it will be a very big transition to no longer be the center of attention. There’s really no way to know how your children will react, but it is best to try to prepare for a bit of jealousy or resistance. Things may go swimmingly, and there may be no issue. However, it is best to consider the chance that there may be some issues and attention grabs to address.
Another thing to consider when adding a child to your home through any means is the activities of your other children. We have currently four small children in our home. As they get older and get into sports, we have learned that there has to be a give-and-take. We cannot let them all play sports during the same seasons. It is just impossible. We cannot say yes to everything as we cannot be everywhere at once. Our children know that they have to take turns in their activities and have to understand that our attention is shared.
However, this has not been an easy thing for them to learn. There are many times where they’re upset that they could not do something that they want. It is a lot of trial-and-error and tantrums at times. We are teaching our children that while we love them equally, however, there is only so much of us to go around. In a family with multiple children, there has to be an understanding of give and take. It is best to prepare your children in the home by sitting them down and talking with them about how adding another child to your family will affect their activities or everyday lives.
Another thing to consider when adding a new child to your home is the needs of your other children. We have discussed this prior a bit, but there are some children who have more needs than others. If you have a child who has special needs or other considerations, it may be important to take inventory of how you are managing at this time. This by no means shows that you should not adopt, but you should understand how you are coping at this time.
My husband and I have explored adopting again, but we currently have four kids under the age of eight. While I would love to adopt another child, I am stretched pretty thin at this time with the needs of my children. I have one child specifically who has some special needs that we have to consider as he grows. With this, I cannot add another child to our home at this time as it would stretch both of us too thin.
It is okay for you to take inventory and know that the time simply isn’t right. It is only fair to the child that you will adopt that you have the resources available to give her a loving home and enough attention while still giving attention to the children in your home.
When we were presented with the option of adopting our youngest son, there were other factors at play. One of the biggest influences in adopting him was the fact that he was a full sibling to my daughter. For her, especially being biracial in a white family, having a sibling who is biological will likely mean a lot for her as she grows. While we wanted to adopt him simply because we wanted him, it was certainly beneficial to our daughter to bring into our home a biological sibling. This is a consideration to make when bringing a child in your home. If you have the option to bring in a full sibling to your adopted child into your home, it is definitely something you should take into consideration heavily.
If the children that you already have in your home are over the age of 18, it is important to consider their living situation. If they live in the home with you, they will be subject to a background check and an interview for the home study process. If they have any criminal history, this might bar you from adopting until they are no longer in your home. If they are outside of the home, it is important to consider what type of relationship they may have with this new child. I have met a few families who have adopted children once their other children were already out of the home. While they have great relationships with their siblings, the relationship is kind of like an aunt or uncle relationship rather than a brother or sister due to the age difference and distance. This is not necessarily a negative factor, just a consideration to take if you have older children in or outside of the home.
Another thing to consider when adding a child to your family is simply the fact that adding a new child to your family will change your everyday life. When my husband and I adopted our daughter, we only had three sons. Adding a fourth child to our home definitely changed the dynamic. Adding a girl to her home definitely changed the dynamic. It changed how much we could do and where we could go. It changed what we could afford and how we ate. It changed so much within our household just increasing the number of children. None of this was detrimental, but it definitely was something that we had to get used to as a family.
Now that there was a little girl in the house, it changed the shift of male energy for sure. If you are bringing a gender in your home that is different from the gender that you have with your other children, you may want to consider what that will mean for your household. It could definitely ignite change if you are bringing in an older child who is a different gender than your other children. You will need to make considerations within the home that will keep everyone safe and comfortable in the home environment.
While there are many considerations that you may need to make when having other children in the home, bringing a new child into your home is an incredible blessing. The children who are already within your home will likely be excited at the prospect of having a new sibling. If you are able to, involve them in the process of adoption as much as possible. Speak with them about their fears or hesitations. Let them express their feelings along the way and keep them updated on the adoption process.
Lita Jordan is a master of all things “home.” A work-from-home, stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of five. She has a BA in Youth Ministry from Spring Arbor University. She is married to the “other Michael Jordan” and lives on coffee and its unrealistic promises of productivity. Lita enjoys playing guitar and long trips to Target. Follow her on Facebook.