How to Prepare Your Children for Adoption
I’ll never forget the day those big brown eyes stared at me. Those tiny fingers and toes that fit perfectly on his three pound yellow body that was swaddled in a light blue receiving blanket. He was so small , much smaller than I thought he’d be. And I was incredibly nervous– unsure if I would be able to hold him because he was so tiny. The length of my hands were longer than his legs; and I have very small hands.
“Would you like to hold him?” the social worker asked. I looked at my mom, then the social worker, then him. Then, I positioned my arms to embrace him. That day, I fell in love. That day, I knew that his tiny body needed a loving family to share love and hope with him. That day, I knew this was a God-ordained gift to our family and that my parents were making the right decision.
I was in college. My brother was in the Marines and my sister was still in high school. When they shared the news of the possibility, I didn’t think much of it. I knew my mom wanted to have another baby, but was physically unable. So when they shared with us their desire to adopt, I knew it would be a sweet thing to do. And even though we always had children come and go from our home– whether it was cousins, close friends, or foster children–I somehow knew this was going to be a life-changing experience for us all.
One of the common opinions that often made their way to our home was that we, the children, would end up regretting my parent’s decision. That we would have a hard time adjusting to a new baby in the house. Immediately some people assumed we’d struggle with jealousy issues. Even though we were all practically grown adults (my sister still the youngest in high school), some people still assumed the worst. And when the adoption was finalized, salty opinions still tried to discourage us. I honestly couldn’t believe how people could look at my new little brother and think that in all of his preciousness he would cause a stir in our home. I’m thankful to share that he never did and I believe it has a lot to do with how involved my parents kept us in the process.
Adoption is an incredible life-changing decision, but one that doesn’t only affect the parents. If you already have children, they must be prepared for this change too. Here are just a few tips I’d like to share with you, from a sibling’s perspective.
1. Talk to you children about your desire to adopt: We knew our parent’s were going to adopt long before my brother came into our home. They talked with us extensively about their love for children and how they knew this was something they were meant to do. This helped tremendously with the process. We had time to prepare our hearts to receive the new blessing in our family.
2. Ask honest questions and embrace honest answers. My family went through a series of talks with us. Sometimes random, sometimes scheduled. Sometimes, we were asked how we really felt about having a newborn baby in the house… if we were ready for everything that came along with that. Crying, dirty-diapers, toys–everything. I admit, I was excited about that part, but I also knew it would be a huge transition. There were some adjustments I’d need to make to prepare for a new baby in the house. But because we knew, we were able to get ready.
3. Show your children constant affection and get them involved: One common concern that we heard from others was whether we were feeling any type of jealousy toward our new brother. Some assumed this would be our greatest hurtle to cross. Now, as a mom of three small children, I understand how much of a shock it is to have a new baby in the house with other small children. My toddlers did have a small bout of jealousy when I bought Karina home. But, I constantly made sure I got them involved in her care. And most importantly, I let them know how much I love them… and I showed them. Their involvement in taking care of Karina (by getting diapers, rubbing lotion on her, interacting with her) and my consistent display of affection toward them helped them realize that I didn’t love them any less. They are loved and as important to me as the new baby. I believe that with adoption, a similar approach can be taken. No one wants to feel eliminated. To help make sure your kids don’t feel eliminated, I believe it’s a good idea to keep them involved. Let them walk through the journey with you.
My heart treasures adoption. And prayerfully, my husband and I will walk that journey in the future. If God graces us with the opportunity, I hope to be as loving, compassionate, and selfless as my parents who opened their home and their heart for the blessing of my brother. And because they answered when adoption knocked, we have all been richly blessed and have learned a deeper meaning of God’s love. Adoption isn’t just for the parents. It heavily involves the entire family. And your decision can be a smooth transition too!