Allowing a child to grow in a family is one of the most selfless acts of love someone could ever express. The beauty in adoption is not in potential parents wanting to increase their family; it is in the parents’ desire to provide a haven for a child who would strongly benefit from a loving home and caring protectors. Adopting one child or more is really of immeasurable worth. A question that has always been on my mind is if an adoptive parent meets a possible great match and the child they matched with has a sibling, should the siblings be apart? Adopting siblings is, honestly, a matter of great thought.
The potential parents that consider adopting siblings are demonstrating a big leap of trust in their own potential, and a desire to improve in their abilities to provide the love and care the children certainly need. It is also a great opportunity for the children to have a biological connection with someone while experiencing the separation from biological parents.
It is more common to adopt siblings if the adoption started with foster care. In the U.S., approximately two-thirds of the children in foster care have a sibling with them. Although some believe that keeping siblings together will be a much harder task and even an impediment in the children’s progress, many are in favor that the placement is more successful when the siblings remain together.
When considering whether siblings should remain together or not, there are around 10 factors based on the best interest of each child. To deeply evaluate these factors, an individualized assessment is completed to assure the child’s interest above all. These 10 factors are:
1. Current functioning and behaviors.
2. Medical needs.
3. Educational needs.
4. Developmental needs.
5. History and experience.
6. Religious and cultural needs.
7. Connection with a community, school, and faith community.
8. Interests and talents.
9. Relationships with current caretakers, parents, siblings, and relatives.
10. Reasonable preference, if the court deems a child to be of sufficient age to express preferences.
Although adopting siblings should ideally be the best option, if the placement would be contrary to the safety or well-being of any of the siblings, then separation occurs. As Becky Malecki, a foster parent and former worker for social services wrote:
Children need to bond to a loving adult to ever be able to deal with issues of trust, authority, or real intimacy. A bond with an unhealthy sibling often stands in the way of the parent-child bond. It can be used as a crutch—I don’t need you, I’ve got my brother in much the same way gang members to rely on each other for a sense of belonging and security. It’s effective for the youth but isn’t healthy or good for society.
Malecki said that she would fully support the separation of siblings if their background would include abuse or even reactive attachment disorder.
One of the difficulties with adopting siblings is that your time and attention will need to be divided. Adopted children have different needs from other children. They will most likely need more support and care due to the trauma of being placed with a family that is not their biological one.
Although there might be a few downsides to keeping siblings together, by adopting siblings you are allowing the children to find love within a family while having a biological connection that would help them overcome previous traumas.
According to Childwelfare.gov, “For children entering care, being with their siblings can enhance their sense of safety and well-being and provide natural, mutual support. This benefit is in contrast to the traumatic consequences of separation, which may include additional loss, grief, and anxiety over their siblings’ well-being.”
Many adoptees spend a good part of their lives trying to connect with someone that is a member of their biological family. Those that are adopted together already have that connection. According to Childwelfare.gov, “Sibling relationships are emotionally powerful and critically important not only in childhood but over the course of a lifetime.” By placing the children together, the likelihood of family reunification and permanent placement is much higher.
Whenever thinking about the situation as a whole, you should also understand that as a potential parent, you should try to evaluate your own abilities. If you feel unsure about your ability to deal with different traumas and previously formed behaviors all at once, then adopting siblings might not be the best choice for you.
Grown children already have some formed behaviors that will be part of your daily routine. You will need patience and persistence to overcome it and teach them different ways to deal and cope with situations. According to the Adoption.com community, former foster children would have strongly liked to be with their siblings. However, there is no right or wrong decision because every single situation will have its own outcome. Evaluate, plan it out, and what you feel is best, put it into practice.
Adopting children is not only an opportunity to increase your family but also to make your dream and theirs, come true. Before deciding on adopting, check with agencies and attorneys to know more about adoption laws in your state. You should also consider the possibility of intercountry adoption, even if the costs are significantly different for domestic and international adoptions.
When thinking about adopting siblings, please do not be stuck in the stereotypes. You do not need to be a perfect parent because no one is, and the children you will adopt are not like the old-fashioned image of foster kids. They can have their issues, but they are simply children who are ready for support and love. Allow the children to have the opportunity to interact with you. Understand your limitations as a parent, but especially your potential. Believe that you can form a family, love it, care for it, and try every day to be your best, but still know that your best does not need to be perfect.
Are you and your partner ready to start the adoption process? Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to begin your adoption journey. We have 130+ years of adoption experience and would love to help you.