Open Adoption & Siblings
A child’s relationship with a birth mother is welcome to everyone involved in open adoption. The child can learn about the family history, traditions and culture. A relationship between birth mother and child is rewarding, but can cause mixed feelings. This is particularly true if the adoptee learns of birth siblings.
Older Brothers and Sisters
A birth mother may have one or more children before she decides to pursue an open adoption. This is not uncommon. A birth mother with older children may find that she does not have the ability to raise a new baby. She might not be in a partnership or have the support needed for taking care of multiple children. She may have financial difficulties that prevent her from being able to give another child the life that he or she deserves. It could be that an older child has special needs that occupy a great deal of time. She may be in a place in her life or career that would not allow her to nurture a newborn.
An adoptee who learns of older siblings may wonder if he or she had done something bad or wrong to cause the birth mother to choose adoption. It is important that adoptive parents and the birth mother alike explain the exact reason behind the adoption. A child will respect honesty, even if he or she doesn’t quite yet understand the meaning behind the language.
It is also important that the adoptive child be able to develop a relationship with those siblings. Meetings, playdates, holidays and birthdays might all be arranged with the birth siblings. If this isn’t possible, the children should be able to communicate through social media, phone or letters. Showing the child pictures of the birth siblings is sometimes enough to help that child to understand these are real people who exist and who share in the same genetics.
Younger Brother and Sister
The birth mom may become pregnant again, this time choosing to raise the new baby herself. An adopted child may have mixed feelings about this. The child might feel excited that there is a new baby. At the same time, there can be sadness and confusion that this baby is staying with the birth mom.
Once again, the adoptive child should be given a clear explanation, even if the parents think that child is too young to understand. Adoptive parents should tell their child that the birth mom is now in a place in her life that she can care for a newborn. They should also explain that this child will be their brother or sister.
“Real” Brothers and Sisters
The child may question if these birth siblings are truly brother and sister. Even if they don’t have a close relationship, the answer is always yes. Parents should explain that mom and dad are the people who raise the child, but siblings come in many forms. Siblings can be people who share DNA or people who grow up in the same household. Children should be made aware that it is perfectly okay to refer to these birth siblings as brothers or sisters.