Will my child struggle with a sibling being adopted?

Will your child struggle with a sibling being adopted?  Maybe not.

Hi Megan,

I’m unexpectedly 11 weeks pregnant. I have an 8-year-old daughter who I love dearly and share custody of with her father who I’m fairly close with. I am worried that she will struggle with a sibling being adoption.  Her father and his new wife are also expecting a baby due around the same time as mine. I am considering adoption for my unborn child. It’s very painful but I realized I couldn’t choose abortion. It’s wracking me with guilt. I’m terrified she’ll somehow fear me abandoning her or feel guilt for why the child can’t live with us. Do you have any advice at all on how to approach her on this, with the least amount of damage and harmful effect? I’d do anything to keep her from being hurt and want to make sure she knows she’s loved and secure. Thank you – J

 


 

Hi J,

I can only imagine how difficult this is for you, and your feelings of concern for your daughter are totally normal. Mothers do worry that their child will struggle with a biological sibling being adopted.  I have some advice for you, and I can also recommend a really good counselor, if you want.

I believe there is a way to share this information with your daughter that will make her feel secure. She may not like your choice, just to warn you (and usually because a baby sounds like fun), but she might actually understand it.

Explain how this pregnancy is different

I would start by explaining that she is your daughter, always has been, and always will be. Then explain how this baby is different. Some things that you might want to say…point out that this baby has a different daddy than she does. That with this pregnancy, you got pregnant by accident with someone you don’t plan to be a parent with, unlike when you got pregnant with her daddy who you love. You can say that when a woman gets pregnant by accident and she doesn’t plan to get married, she has options.

Point out as many differences as you can think of

Some women decide that they will find a loving family who cannot have kids to be the baby’s parents. After the baby is born, the baby goes home with the parents you choose.  Then those parents’ names go on their birth certificate, not yours (this actually happens later when the adoption is finalized, but she doesn’t don’t need to know this detail). You can then point out how different this is from when you were pregnant with her.  In her case you brought her home and your names are on her birth certificate. Point out as many differences as you can think of and then tell her this is how adoption works. Tell her adoption is really amazing because it helps people who can’t have babies to have a family, that it is a chance to give a very special gift to someone who otherwise wouldn’t have it.

You want this baby to have a mom and a dad

If she wants to know why you can’t bring the baby home, you can tell her many different things. For instance, tell her that your family is complete and that the man who is this baby’s father will not help raise a baby. Tell her you believe kids need a mom and a dad. You might tell her that you really want this baby to have a mom and a dad who can’t have kids. If you want, you can also tell her that she can meet the baby if she wants at the hospital. She can even meet the adoptive parents that you choose. As a result, you can stay in touch with the family and get pictures of the happy family with the biological sibling so you can watch the brother or sister grow and thrive.

sibling struggle with adoption

Zack and Becky and Isaiah, July 2020

Talking to a counselor might help

These are just some ideas. You can talk with a counselor, too, and get more ideas. I’m just sharing this in hopes that you might see there is a way to do this where your daughter will not be psychologically damaged. Remember, too, that she will take her cues from you and her dad. If you two are comfortable with adoption and believe it’s the right thing, chances are your daughter will too. Again, she may not like it, but she may understand.

Caring for a baby is a lot of work

Maybe your daughter doesn’t realize that babies are a lot of work.  Try focusing on how much fun she will have and how busy everyone will be when her dad has a new baby. Above all, do not focus on the fact that this baby is a half-sibling. There’s even a chance this won’t come up for her right now.

I hope this is helpful as you think about the potential struggle with a sibling being adopted.  I’m happy to answer any additional questions you might have.  I would love to hear back from you how things go.

All my best, Megan