There are many reasons why women consider open adoption. Maybe money is really tight, and having another child’s expenses in the mix would make things even more difficult. Maybe you are struggling with health issues that will complicate things with a new baby.
If you have other children that you are raising and you decide to choose to place this new baby with an adoptive family, you may find that your kids will have questions and need some explanation as to why this is happening. So how do you go about having this conversation while keeping in mind the impact and effects of adoption on biological siblings? What should you expect as you try to explain your choice for adoption? And what can open adoption mean for your whole family in the future?
How to Tell Your Kids You’re Placing Your Baby for Adoption
Here’s a short video that’s packed with tips on how to talk to your child about adoption:
#1: Realize that your kids have a right to feel confusion, sadness, or even anger about your baby being raised with an adoptive family.
It is important to acknowledge your children’s emotions about the change that is about to happen within your family. Talk them through their feelings and make sure they know that you hear what they are trying to say.
Use language that is easy to understand at their age. Adoption can be a confusing concept for a child, so explaining that this was not an easy decision for you is alright. You might explain that you don’t have a crib, special baby food, or a stroller to push the baby in, and there wouldn’t be anyone to care for the baby while you are at work. Tell them that you have found a family who want a baby to love, and that they are going to take care of the baby in your tummy.
Sometimes, older girls can be some of the most difficult for a birth mother to communicate with. The idea of a new baby sounds fun, and they offer to help. Taking the time to hear them out gives you the opportunity to also explain the work and money involved in bringing another baby into your home.
#2: Let them ask as many questions as they have.
Always keeping communication open is key to making this transition as easy as possible for your kids. Make sure they know that you are available for them to ask whatever questions they have that come up. Also, make time to check in with them on a regular basis through your pregnancy and ask about how they are feeling with everything.
Children’s books can help them understand adoption. Sam’s Sister is one written for young siblings of mothers who are choosing adoption. It’s about a five-year-old girl whose mother is planning on adoption for the baby she is carrying, because she can’t care for another child.
#3: Reassure them.
Depending on how old your other children are, they may feel concerned or fearful that they are not secure in your home or that you may want them to live with an adoptive family too. It’s a good idea to explain that they will still live with you. They will always be the baby’s sister or brother, but the baby just won’t live with you.
Use reassuring words that show how committed you are to them as a mother. Tell them that you want to be the best mom that you can be, and having another baby would mean that you couldn’t be the type of parent that you wanted, but that your love and dedication to them will never change.
#4: Let them know that no matter what, they will always have a sister or brother.
Make sure your children understand that no matter where their brother or sister lives, they will always have a bond with them that remains. Talk to them about how special sibling relationships are and encourage them to understand that because you chose open adoption, they will still be able to see how their brother or sister is doing and watch them grow up.
Share with them your plans for future contact and how that might look for them too! If you are planning visits, they can see their sibling. If not, they can draw pictures and send them. Talk about this and let them ask questions about it too.
#5: Be honest with them about your feelings, too.
It is no secret that placing your child for adoption can feel sad and even heartbreaking at times. You will likely even experience some grief along the way, as well.
So when you feel those things, try to stay open and honest with your kids about them. Tell them if you are having a hard day. If you focus on staying honest, it will show you that you value this trait, which ultimately helps your kids to be honest about how they are feeling, too.
#6: Speak of love.
Above everything, make sure you talk about how much you love your children, including the baby that is growing inside of you. Try to explain to them that while this decision is hard and sometimes it may be tough to understand, you are choosing adoption because you love your baby — and your whole family.
At Lifetime Adoption, we have walked alongside many birth mothers who were facing an unplanned pregnancy and trying to figure out how another baby will fit in with the kids already at home. We know that making a decision like this isn’t easy, but we can help provide the support that you need.
Contact our team of compassionate adoption coordinators at Lifetime Adoption today. We can help answer your questions about adoption, your other children, and the adoption process, as well as the effects of adoption on biological kids and older children.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on January 15, 2021, and has since been updated.
Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P., is nationally recognized as an expert on open adoption. A Certiﬁed Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P.), Caldwell is the founder of Lifetime Adoption Center, established in 1986. She has assisted in over 2,000 successful adoptions and was one of the ﬁrst adoption professionals on the Internet.
Caldwell’s life work is dedicated to educating and helping birth parents find the right adoptive parents for their child. She spreads the word about modern adoption through speaking appearances, webinars, online resources, and as a podcast show host.
She has written several award-winning books, including So I Was Thinking About Adoption, the first book of its kind. There are many reasons women choose adoption, and this short book is a comprehensive resource to make the best plan for you and your baby. Caldwell wrote So I Was Thinking About Adoption as a handy guide to the details of the adoption process.
Caldwell has made over 150 media appearances, including ABC News, CBS News, Larry King Live, CNN Headline News, NBC’s The Today Show, CNN’s The Campbell Brown Show, NBC News, KGO Newstalk Radio, CNN’s Black in America II, MSNBC, Fox, PBS, BBC, and Dr. Laura.