Helping children cope with adoption is something we don’t always expect during the adoption process. Adopting a child is a beautiful and life changing event. Some people hope their whole lives to be able to give a child a loving home. But for families with biological children, it can sometimes be a difficult transition for kids to cope with.

While there may be excitement at the prospect of a new sibling, it can also be confusing and even threatening to have someone new enter into their lives. It’s not just the parents that adopt a child; it’s the whole family. Helping children cope with adoption and the changes it can bring is key to maintaining a cohesive, healthy family unit.

Let’s look at some common behaviors of kids who aren’t coping well with a new sibling and how to address them.

Helping Children Cope with Adoption: Common Behaviors and What to Do

Acting Out

When a child feels like their reality is threatened they can lash out. For older children, this can look like reverting back to behavior that they’ve grown past already. If your child is acting out in this way there are several things you can do. 

Sometimes in these situation a child may just need some time to be alone. Try to make space for them to just be. Make sure it’s comfortable. Another way to quell outbursts is to get to the root of the problem. It’s possible your child isn’t feeling heard. Make space for them to express their thoughts and emotions about all of the newness, and don’t punish them for it.  

Resentment 

The adoption process is a very involved process that puts a lot of emphasis and attention on the incoming child. Often times, biological children can feel like they get left out in this process, or can feel ignored. These feelings can lead to feelings of resentment, either towards you as a parent or towards their new sibling. 

While there’s no perfect formula to helping release these emotions, one of the best thing you can do for your child is assure them that you’re there for them. Make sure to spend time with them and assure them that your love is enough for both them and their new sibling.

If you can, sit down with your child before the adoption process starts and talk with them about what might change (and most importantly, what will stay the same). Having a sense of stability is crucial for children. If this resentment turns into constantly fighting, sit down with both of your children and help each of them express what they’re experiencing. Help them understand each other’s perspective. 

Parent Pleasing 

While adoption is beautiful time, it can also be difficult and stressful for the whole family. Instead of resentment, sometimes a child may try to compensate for the stress they see their family experiencing by becoming the ‘perfect’ child. In this case, they may try hard to not cause problems, to not express themselves, and to not be an ‘inconvenience’.

If you recognize any of this behavior in your child, sit down with them and talk with them the family. Assure them of their worth and that your love is unconditional. Encourage your child to be themselves and to grow. 

 

Adoptions can be stressful for children and parents alike. Helping children cope with adoption using these tools can help make the process a smooth and positive experience for everyone involved. 

If you are deciding to adopt and are looking for representation, contact our team at The Narrows Law Group today!

For more information on adoptions in Washington State, visit the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, & Families website.