Social workers make every effort to keep siblings together when adopting, so there is always a need for families able to adopt sisters and brothers together. This is especially true for adoptions from foster care and international adoptions.
Sibling adoption can be great for both kids and parents, but it helps for adoptive parents to go in with their eyes open and realistic expectations on the work involved.
Tips for Adopting Siblings
- Forming attachment with each child in the sibling unit takes effort and individual time with each child.
- While it is critical to spend this time with each child, the first year home you will feel like you have zero extra time in your life to give.
- Lower your expectations on what you will be able to accomplish, outside of parenting, for the first 6-12 months post adoption.
- Line up support for at least the first 6 months home in doing tasks such as housecleaning, laundry, yard work, cooking, etc.
- Line up therapists and other professionals the children may need before the children arrive.
- Be up front with your social worker before the adoption about what type of behaviors you cannot handle. Do not be afraid to say you cannot or do not want to handle some behaviors.
- Do not expect the siblings to process the adoption the same or behave the same once in a safe environment.
- Involve the children already in the home to help anticipate what will be new for the newly adopted kids and brainstorm ways they can make the transition easier.
- Try to plan a fun family activity each week that you and the children will enjoy. There is nothing like having fun together to build the bonds of family love. These activities will also help to blend the children already in the home with the newly adopted siblings. This activity should not cost much and should be something that you genuinely look forward to. See Best Parenting Advice Ever (and it’s not what you think).
- If you have children already in the family, be very careful with supervision and limit time alone without parental supervision. You will not know all types of abuse that the children may have been exposed to.
- Recognize that the children will likely grieve what they have lost before they are able to celebrate what they have gained. You know that your child is better off with you in your safe and comfortable home, but your child likely will not know that at first. Spend time before they arrive understanding this grief and recognizing the different ways it may be exhibited.
You might also enjoy listening to this terrific Creating a Family radio show we did with an adoption social worker and an adoption therapist on adopting siblings.