A large proportion of children waiting for domestic adoption through the foster care system have a sibling in the same position. In recent years the foster care system has been pushing to ensure that separating siblings is left as a last resort, thus reducing the trauma of separation within what has already been a tumultuous start in life. Many adoptive families, such as single parents, parents with fertility challenges, or LGBT couples are seeing the joys of adopting siblings, and while this process isn’t without its challenges, adopting siblings can be a beautiful experience for everyone involved.
While sibling adoption is a wonderful thing, it isn’t without its challenges. When thinking of sibling adoption, possible the largest challenge parents will face is that there is twice or even triple (depending on the number of siblings adopted) the need and demand upon them. It is no longer one child which needs your love and patience, it is two, three (or more!). To counter this and ensure a harmony is maintained, parents will need to plan ahead and think of every eventuality and adapt as needed to the changing requirements of each child in their care.
Siblings of an older age will also carry a collective memory of their past traumatic experiences, and if one is reflecting upon these to another, both parties can rapidly become distressed. While overhearing these interactions can be a veritable goldmine of information that you can use to promote healing, you’re unlikely to be around your children 24/7 and will need to ensure strategies are put in place which allow them to talk about their experiences in a safe and constructive way.
Rivalries, disagreements, or squabbles between siblings can take on a whole new level of meaning, which adoptive parents will need to be receptive towards. Siblings may vie for your attention and love and see gaining your attention as ‘one-upping’ their sibling. Therefore, you must make extra-sure your attention is divided equally between your children, ensuring everyone feels equally loved and cherished. When it comes to disagreements there can also be challenges, a traumatic past can often lead to disagreements which are violent or more intense than a typical sibling squabble. This can lead to added trauma or even result in flashbacks for both parties, as well as presenting a risk to both childrens’ safety that parents should definitely be aware of.
For every challenge of sibling adoption there are a whole host of joys which should be cherished along this challenging journey of growth, love, and acceptance. For one, you’re keeping a pre-existing family unit together, allowing your children stability from being with each other, and preventing additional trauma from separation that some children are never able to get over. You’re also bringing two or more unique and beautiful souls into your home that are sure to change your life for the better in so many ways. While of course sibling adoption is not for every family, whether those taking part in LGBT adoption, single parent adoption, or otherwise, for those who choose this pathway, a life changing experience certainly lies ahead.