How Do I Explain Adoption to My Other Children?

If you’re a pregnant woman considering adoption who already has other children, know that you’re not alone. In fact, many of the birth mothers who choose adoption for their baby already have other children — meaning they understand the challenges of raising another child and the benefits that adoption will bring to them and their unborn child.

However, if you’re in this situation, you may wonder how to explain your adoption decision to your children. After all, they’ll see your pregnancy advance and may get excited about a little brother or sister. Depending on their age, you may be at a loss of how to healthily explain your adoption decision, especially when the adoption process is new to you as well.

That’s where the counselors at A Child’s Hope come in. We’ve worked with many women in your situation, and we can help you prepare for this delicate conversation. We’ll tailor your talking points to the age of your child, how much you want them to be involved in your adoption decision and the kind of post-placement communication you want with the adoptive parents. It’s important that you tell your children about your adoption plan in a respectful, loving way. You may be surprised to find that young children understand adoption better than you may think.

To receive free, personalized advice for talking to your children, please call a counselor at A Child’s Hope today at 877-890-4673, text PREGNANT to 919-971-4396 or email ach@achildshope.com.

In the meantime, here are some general steps we recommend for telling your other children about your adoption decision.

Slowly Introduce the Idea of Adoption

Before you even explain that you’ll be placing your baby for adoption, your children should have an understanding of exactly what adoption means and how it works. Obviously, how much detail you give them will depend on their age (your adoption counselor can help you determine what your children should know).

Some good places to start are by reading them books about adoption and showing them movies with adoption themes (like “The Land Before Time,” “Angels in the Outfield,” etc.). Your adoption counselor can provide you with a list of these resources. Make sure that any information you give your child about adoption is positive and celebrates the benefits of adoption for everyone.

Be Open, Honest and Age-Appropriate

When you think you’re ready to talk to your child about adoption, you may want to prepare by writing down a few notes for the conversation. Your adoption counselor can help you determine what wording would be best for your child, but here’s a good example: “You know Mommy is going to have a baby, but there’s another family out there who can’t have a baby on their own. It’s been a really hard decision, but I’ve decided that this baby is going to live with that family, where they will be loved and cared for just as much as if they lived with us.”

How much detail about your decision you want to give your child will depend upon their age and level of understanding. It’s usually a good choice not to over-explain your decision to young children, as this may confuse them more than anything else. If you introduce your child to the idea of adoption as early as possible, they may understand this conversation even better.

On the other hand, your children may have emotional reactions if they can’t understand why their sibling won’t live with them after they’re born. Respect their emotions and be supportive; answer any questions they have and make sure they know you can talk about the adoption at any time. By expressing your certainty about the adoption plan and allowing them to discuss the adoption process with you, they will likely come around to the idea of adoption — and mirror your own positive view of the adoption process.

Involve Them in the Adoption Process

It can be scary for your children to think about their sibling going to live with strangers after the adoption, so if you’re comfortable doing so, involve them in your adoption process. This way, they’ll know what future awaits their sibling.

For example, you might want your children to meet your baby’s adoptive family. Knowing who their sibling will go home with will help them comprehend the positives of adoption and provide a tangible idea for “adoption.” You might also let them express their love for their sibling by creating presents for the baby to take home with their adoptive parents — for example, letters or pictures. They might also want to pick out a special gift for their baby brother or sister at the hospital.

Remember, however much you involve your children in the adoption process will be based on what you’re most comfortable with. Letting your children be a part of your adoption process, however, helps them feel important and a part of their sibling’s future life.

Be Supportive of their Feelings

When you’re going through the emotions of the adoption process yourself, it can be overwhelming to always put on a brave face for younger children — but it’s crucially important. Just like you, your children will have conflicting emotions. Tell them it’s okay to be sad, but also remind them of the wonderful things that are awaiting their baby brother or sister because of this adoption decision. They will always be a big brother or sister and, depending on your open adoption preferences, they may even see their sibling again someday.

Talking about your adoption decision with children can be difficult, which is why your adoption counselor will be there for you whenever you need her. She can help you prepare for this conversation, as well as support you throughout your pregnancy with whatever questions your children have. To learn more, call A Child’s Hope today at 877-890-4673, text PREGNANT to 919-971-4396 or email ach@achildshope.com.

Remember, adoption is a lifelong journey for members of the adoption triad — and it’s the same way for your children whose sibling is being placed for adoption. Be open and honest, and create a positive environment where adoption is always a welcome topic of discussion before, during and after your adoption.

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Text: Pregnant to (919) 971-4396