There are understandably a lot of questions from prospective adopters with biological children about the impact adding another child to their family will have on their biological child or children so here we’ve put together some of our most frequently asked questions on this topic.
Can I adopt if I have biological children already?
Yes! We work with families every day who have chosen to add to their family through adoption – some adopt for medical reasons, others because they know they can offer a loving, secure home to a child who hasn’t had the best start in life, while others are single and want to complete their family. We have families with biological children who choose to adopt a single child, brothers and sisters at the same time or who adopt more than once.
What is the best age gap between a birth child and an adopted child?
There isn’t a set age gap as such, but we do recommend parents adopt a child or children who are younger than biological children. However, as with everything to do with adoption, we look at every family on an individual basis – considering the needs of the children in our care and those of the children in your family as well as your own expectations and family dynamic.
How do you talk to a biological child about adoption?
How you broach the subject of adoption with biological children depends on how you are as a family and the age of your children. If you are a sharing family where decisions are made collectively, then quite often children are asked by parents how they feel about it early in the application process. We do find most people start the conversations with children once the adult(s) have decided to complete a Registration of Interest Form i.e., they’ve officially decided to take that first step, but we’ve also met a lot of people who have made the decision to start researching adoption with their children so they’ve been involved throughout.
During stage 2 of the application process we interview biological children to make sure that any match we make works for your children and to ensure they are considered throughout the process and they of course have opportunity to ask any questions too.
As with anything you explain to children, broaching the subject of adoption should be done in an age-appropriate way that they can understand, and which gives them room to express their feelings. Our team would work with you on any specific concerns you might have, and they are very experienced so happy to give you guidance for your child/children specifically.
How are biological children considered during the application process?
Biological children are considered just as much as the potential adopter(s) during the adoption application process. Our social workers speak to them directly during stage two so that the team really get to understand your child, their personality, needs and what they need from a brother or sister. Having one-to-one time with the social worker means that children (age dependent) are able to ask any questions they may have and air any concerns that they might not necessarily want to speak to their parent(s) about. Biological children are considered as the most important person to match to during the family finding process and we work with families to keep the children updated in a way that works for them and suits their age.
What impact does adoption have on a biological child?
It’s important that birth children are aware of the impact adding another child or children to the family would have on them, so you should prepare them in the same way you would do for the arrival of a biological brother or sister. You’d explain that having a new addition would mean you would have less time and less toy budget, but there will be even more love and fun – and most likely, a lot more noise!
It’s also important to consider early on how you want your child to respond to questions from others that might naturally come up about where the child has come from – for instance some parents are happy for children to say their new addition is adopted, others prefer for it to be more private. There’s no right or wrong and our team would advise you on a response that you are comfortable with and works for your children too.
As with the addition of any new sibling there will be an adjustment period where everyone gets to know each other and new routines and practices are formed – this will of course impact all family members but offering reassurance, time, security and support will ensure that all children whether adopted or biological get used to the new family dynamic in a natural way.
Is it any different parenting an adopted child to a biological child?
An adopted child has had experiences that are different to a biological child. No matter what age they were adopted at they have experienced loss and therefore grief on some level and some have even faced neglect and abuse, and this must be recognised throughout their lives. All children are different, and this sense of loss may come out in adopted children through their behaviour or through how they process their emotions, or you might not see any obvious signs.
Any child growing up has a curiosity about their background and key moments in life and ‘families’ is even taught as part of our education system. The key to successfully helping your adopted child navigate this potentially sensitive time is to be open and honest with them in an age appropriate way – which is where our team comes in.
At Adopt Coast to Coast we want you to be prepared for whatever comes your way, so we give adopters full training before adoption on what to look out for and how to deal with the physical and emotional signs that an adopted child might display. We do this by looking at issues surrounding rejection, talking about emotional acceptance, discipline and by making sure parents are present and taking the emotions and actions of the adopted children seriously. We also offer ongoing post-adoption support to help families with any issues that might come up or even just to be that reassuring support when needed.
Will I feel differently about my adopted child to my biological child?
This is a question we get asked a lot and it’s an understandable concern and for this reason it is something we explore head-on in the training process and our guest adopters often talk about this during our training sessions. For some people the love is instant, for others it takes a little longer, but rest assured it will always happen and you will absolutely love your adopted child.
View our video below featuring children who tell us what impact adoption has had on them: