Saturday 7 November 2020

Should You Consider Adoption When You Already Have Children?... Yes! Here's Why...

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Thinking of adopting, but wondering “should we adopt when we already have biological children?” Discover the answers to this question, right here… 


Adopting a child is amazing thing to be able to do, and not many people have the fortitude to tackle this life challenge. This is especially the case when you already have biological children in the picture; it can make things a lot more complicated and difficult when making a decision on whether your family is able to adopt. 

Once you’ve made the decision to adopt, there are a few processes to consider beforehand, including getting in touch with specialist family lawyers. That said, although that may seem like the hardest part of it all, the real challenge will be when you bring home your new child. 


That’s where this post comes in; it’s designed to help you to tackle this head on. First, we’ll be providing you with an insight into why you might choose to adopt with children, and then some tips on getting it just right. We hope this equips you for the challenges ahead, and allows you to triumph in your new journey! 


Why Do People Choose to Adopt When They Already Have Children? 


For an outsider to the world of adoption, the question of why a parent who has children of their own already would do this is a big one. That said, despite how strange this may seem on the surface, there are a number of reasons a couple might decide to parent an adopted child, including: 


  • - Families with children already are welcomed: the system welcomes parents who already have children. This is because adoption agencies are on the hunt for stable families that have a proven track-record of success. 

  • - Same-sex couples: same-sex couples may not be able to have children of their own, but may have children from another previous relationship already. 

  • - Infertility: some families come across infertility later on in life, due to older age or underlying health problems. So, even if they want more kids, their body shuts off this possibility, and adoption is the answer. 

  • - Health issues: some mothers may experience trouble with conceiving and getting to full-term without risks to themselves and the baby. For the sake of everyone involved, it’s much safer to adopt. 

  • - Good will: many parents feel it is their duty to help as many children as they can, so adopting another child may seem only right for them. 

  • - Stability: some families are lucky enough to have the financial and emotional means to give a child in the system a stable and happy future. So, with these bonuses, why not adopt? 


What You Should Know Before Adopting a Child When You Already Have Children


Clearly, there are a lot of situations where adopting a child may be the only option for a family. That said, it’s not for everyone, which is why you should first be aware of the struggles you may face along the way… 


Telling Them the Truth Won’t be Easy 


Firstly, you have to think ahead to whether or not you will tell your adopted child about their past, and when the right time for this is. This challenge can be compounded when you have biological children, as the adopted child may feel a disparity between themselves and their siblings. It really is a fine balance between telling them the truth and making everyone feel like a valued member of the family. 


The Family Dynamic Will Change 


Not only will you have to deal with the adjustment of your adopted child into your family, you’ll have to deal with adjustment all round. Unlike a new baby, where the entire family has a chance to become prepared for the arrival, adoption can be a lot quicker than this. So, your current children’s stable and calm world will be disrupted massively; it’ll be a big change. 


Because of this, your biological children will likely feel a mixture of emotions, as their place in the family will be altered. For example, they may feel excitement for their new sibling, but also uncertainty about the future and anger that they have to share their parents. This may manifest in a number of ways, for example: 


  • - Behavioural problems 

  • - Aggression to you or the new child 

  • - Testing the household rules 

  • - Refusing to share toys 

  • - Not eating properly 

  • - Sibling rivalry 

  • - Ganging up 


Each one of you will have your own feelings to deal with, and your own ways of dealing with them. Ultimately, it will be a real challenge to your family, and you will have to cater for one another’s feelings. 


Your New Child May Not Settle in Right Away 


Amongst all these other challenges, you will have to deal with a new family arrival who may not be prepared to live with you – a bunch of strangers – just yet. What’s more, their past may be rife with things like abuse and attachment issues, which will likely lead to difficult behaviour. You must be prepared for this inevitability and be ready for them when they finally open themselves up to you. 


You Might Not Love Your New Child Immediately 


The unconditional love a mother and father feel for their biological child is very different to the love they will feel for an adopted child. None of the usual hormones and emotions are involved when adopting, which can make the transition particular tricky. In fact, in a Guardian article about the love you feel for your adopted child, Rebecca Walker, writer of the book Baby Love, said: 


"I don't care how close you are to your adopted son or beloved stepdaughter, the love you have for your non-biological child isn't the same as the love you have for your own flesh and blood.” 


The truth is, it’s unlikely you’ll fall in love with them straight away, like you often do with your own baby; it will take time. 



8 Top Tips on Adopting a Child When You Already Have Children 


As you can see, this new experience won’t be a walk in the park. That said, if you take these tips on board, the transition will hopefully prove a lot easier… 

Make Sure the Timing is Right 


There are lots of elements you should consider before you jump right in, especially whether the timing is right. This can be decided by assessing a culmination of other factors, including: 


  • - How old the child is compared to your biological children: research suggests a wider age gap between children of at least 2 years is better, as they will be at different stages of their development, reducing conflict. 

  • - You’ve had time to explore your own children’s thoughts on the matter: at the end of the day, you’re a family, and the decision isn’t just down to you. It’s important you take the time to assess the thoughts of your other children to make sure it won’t be a total disaster. 

  • - Keep your children involved in the process: to make sure your child is ready, make sure to keep them updated on the ins and outs of the adoption process as they’re happening. 


Make Sure You Have Space for Them 


Financial and emotional stability is really important, but it’s also important to make sure you have enough space for your new child in the home. This will not only help to ease the transition with the rest of the kids, but will also make the adopted child feel as though there is space in the family for them; they’re not barging in. 


Ideally, it’s good if the adopted child gets their own room. This can be a safe haven for them to go to when things get a little overwhelming; I’m sure they’d appreciate it. 


Equally, you should have enough space for all of your other children to have their own room, so no one feels left out. This will ensure there’s a place where everyone can go to wind-down. 

Prepare Time Off Work 


Any adoption agency will expect at least one of the parents to take at least 6 to 12 months off work to be in the house with your new child. It may need to be longer, in some more difficult cases. 


This will help them to feel as though there is some sort of stability in their life. It will also help with bonding and trust-building, and will ensure they’re made to feel like part of the family. 


Think About Ways to Support Everyone Emotionally 


Getting your biological children emotionally ready for the new addition to the family will be an emotional rollercoaster. So, everyone will need a lot of support to get over the initial hurdles. Some ways to help everyone cope, both before the child arrives and once they’re here, include: 


  •  - Communicate throughout, making sure everyone is aware of how far along the adoption process is, and that everyone’s feelings are laid out on the table. 

  • - Before your new child moves in, display photos of them around the house so everyone can get used to this new face. Perhaps even getting the kids to say good morning and goodnight to the photo every day could get them familiarised with everything before they arrive. 

  • - Perhaps you could encourage your children to prepare a gift for the new arrival. 

  • - Get everyone involved in the activities to prepare for your new family member, for example, why not decorate their room together. 

  • - Make sure your birth children spend time with your adopted child without you there. You could do this by sending everyone off to bed early to play games together. 

  • - Make sure each child has reassurance, and an equal amount of attention, each day. 


Set a Family Routine 


Making sure to set a routine is a great way to maintain some sort of stability. For your new child, they may be used to a hectic lifestyle and this can make them feel more at home. For your biological children, this change will upheave their lives, so keeping a routine will maintain an element of same-old. 

Keep Control of Your Own Emotions 


Although you are sure to feel many emotions too, especially when you’re getting to grips with parenting your new child, it’s important to avoid expressing these emotions openly. Definitely do so in your own time, with your other half, but not in front of the kids. Again, this will ensure you’re seen as in control, and as the stable figure the kids all need. 


Find a Counsellor 


If you’re struggling, and sometimes even if you’re not, having an external voice to talk to may be exactly what you all need. This can be achieved through counselling. Your kids might not be open to communicating their true feelings with you, so this person can act as that outlet. This way, you can also find out how everyone’s feeling, and make changes to accommodate them. 

Don’t Ignore Differences 


Your new child is unlikely to resemble the rest of the family. They may have a different colour skin, and may even have a different religion altogetherThis diversity shouldn’t be ignored; it should be celebrated! 


So, be sure to remind everyone of these differences, and make sure it’s made clear these are beautiful differences to have. You might even choose to blend your family traditions to make room for your new arrival’s culture, rather than hide it away. 


Should we Adopt? 


Clearly, there’s a lot to bear in mind before you jump into adopting, especially when you have children already. That said, we hope this article has given you a little insight into what to expect. 


Be sure to leave your thoughts and experiences in the comments down below! Let’s help one another succeed in each amazing adoption journey and story. 


**This is a collaborative post.**

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