I will never forget the day my husband looked at me and told me we should look into adopting a daughter. For ten years I had prayed for this day! And I leapt at the chance to add a little girl to our family. After we talked to our agency, we thought we should talk to our boys about our plans to see what their thoughts were. Our boys were 13, 10, and 6 at the time, and having them on board to adopt a baby girl was very important to us. So important, that if one of them would have been against the adoption process, we would not have proceeded. Adoption, to us, is a family affair.
Sitting in the car one day we brought it up to them. “What would you guys say if we adopted a baby girl? We wouldn’t know when it would happen, what she would look like, or what state she would be born in, but if you guys are okay with it, Daddy and I would like to move forward to see what God has in store for our family. If any of you say no, we will stop and never discuss it again.” Two of our boys were immediately excited. But our middle son was not. “No.” he said. There was silence in the car. I looked at him and said, “Ok, we will not bring it up again,” and I turned around, with tears in my eyes.
My husband grabbed my hand, and our oldest son turned to our middle son and stated, “Really? Just like that you say no? Not even that you will think about it? Just no? You don’t want a sister? You don’t want mom to raise a daughter? At least think about it.” Again there was silence. After the longest thirty seconds of my life, our little guy said, “Ok, I thought about it. I think we should have a sister.” And the rest is history.
As our adoption process unfolded, I wondered about how other adoptive parents discussed the adoption process with other children in the home. Do other families give their other children the power of veto, or were we the only ones? Each family is different and has their own ways of addressing adoption with their biological children. Here are a few suggestions made by adoptive parents I polled:
1. Involve your other children once discussions become serious and you are scheduling meetings and/or phone calls.
2. Explain the uncertain time frame. To different age groups of kids, this means different things. An open-ended time is hard for an adult, let alone a child to grasp.
3. Tell your children about the adoption process and read some books together. Have them help clean the house and prepare the home for a new sibling.
4. Listen to your child’s feedback. On the room, the name, on their feelings about adding a sibling. If they want to talk, stop what you are doing and listen with your full attention.
5. Talk to your children about how they will be involved in the new child’s care. What will they do to help? What will their role be as a big sibling?
6. Share information about the expectant family and expected child on an as-needed basis. Remember that little children do not know what should be kept within the family and what should not. Protecting the expectant family is important. Each story is unique and beautiful but should still be guarded.
7. Realize you can never fully be prepared or prepare your children. Be realistic in your goals and their reactions. Sibling relationships grow, they are not instantaneous.
Our second son, who was so hesitant to have a little girl join our family, is our daughter’s greatest champion. They have the closest, most loving relationship. When I think of him needing extra time to open his heart to her, it overwhelms mine to see how much she has taken over his. Adding a baby girl to our home of boys has been one of our greatest blessings. Watching our boys interact with their sister lets us glimpse at how they will treat other women in their lives. And seeing first-hand how our children welcomed this baby with open arms and eager hearts makes us know for sure that love has no bounds and blood does not build a family.