The Impact of Fostering and Adoption on Kids Already in the Family

Do you worry that your decision to foster or adopt will hurt the kids you are already raising? Check out this podcast with Dr. Jana Hunsley, an Assistant Professor of Instruction at the University of Texas at Dallas, trauma therapist, TBRI® Practitioner, and founder of Project 1025. She discusses the impact of fostering and adoption on kids already in the family.

In this episode, we cover:


  • What are some of the common impacts of fostering on children already in the family? Both potentially negative and positive.
  • What does your research show on how significant and how often children already in the home are negatively impacted by fostering?
  • Should you Include kids in the decision to foster? If so, how does that look at different ages?
  • For children already in the home, is there a better age to start fostering because of their ability to understand what the family is doing?
  • Is it harder to introduce a foster child when there is only one existing child in the home. Do only children have a harder time adjusting?
  • How much information about the new child should you share with the other kids in the home?


  • How do the impacts of adopting differ from the impacts of fostering?
    • With adoption you usually have more time.
    • The child may already be living with you.
    • Adoption is for forever, while fostering is usually temporary.
    • You may care more about creating a lasting sibling relationship between the children.
  • How much of a say should you give kids already in the family over whether you adopt?

Common Worries

  • The new child may have developed behaviors that helped them survive in their prior home or are the physical symptoms of the trauma they experienced, such as tantrums, stealing, cursing, etc. Parents worry that these behaviors will rub off on their child.
  • How to handle possible behaviors that could be harmful to kids already in the family. For example, acting out sexually with the other kids.
  • New foster kids and some kids being placed for adoption have often had a diet higher in processed foods. How to handle this difference if you don’t want the kids in the family to eat too much processed foods.
  • The lack of time and attention will hurt kids already in the family.

Tips for Parents

How can parents lessen the impact and increase the benefits of fostering or adopting for kids already in the family.

  • Prepare children in the family in advance. What do children in the home need to be prepared for? (Differs significantly depending on the age of all the children involved)
  • How to handle rule differences and behavioral expectations.
  • How to handle the differing privileges and expectations that may have been assigned to kids by age in the past but age may not be the best measure or gauge now. For example, staying at home alone while dad runs to the store. Or bedtimes. Or visits alone to grandparents.
  • How to prepare your children for the time commitment a new child will require to avoid feeling of jealousy? How to find time for all the kids.
  • How to avoid secondary trauma in existing kids and how to recognize it.

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Music Credit: Michael Ashworth

Image Credit: Kindel Media