Preparing bio children for questions about their adopted sibling


People build their families in many different ways and as couples and individuals seek not only to adopt due to infertility or medical issues, it’s more and more commonplace to see families consisting of both children who are adopted and biological children. While it is assumed that all children would be excited to have a new brother or sister join your family, they may have a lot of questions and need more preparation than if another biological child was joining your home.


How To Educate Your Biological Children about Adoption and Your Growing Family

Not every child will understand adoption, particularly if their own lived experiences have only exposed them to other families with biological children. It is important to, if you can, include them in as much of the adoption process that makes sense, and to properly prepare them for new additions to your family and even their specific needs. 

In any family, there can be sibling jealousy when a new child comes into the home. Whether the child you are adopting is going to be a baby or an older child, there is likely to be some jealousy or fear of replacement by your biological child. This is a good time to have a conversation about the ability to love multiple children and to explain that there may be a period of adjustment when all of you may have differences in the time you spend with one another. Another child will always take some time for everyone to get used to the reality of their new family structure. 

There will be times when your biological child will explain the expansion of your family and he or she must know the proper language to use when talking about adoption. Even well-meaning adults use improper terminology (like “giving up” a child instead of “making an adoption plan”) and your biological child must be able to properly communicate this as their age level allows. For more information about best practices in educating children about adoption, read this article. Adoption language and terminology can be tricky and are sometimes even misused by people who are a part of the adoption triad. This article will help you learn what should be said. 


Older Child Adoption and Foster Care: Helping Your Biological Children Understand Adjustment

In some instances, you may be adopting an older child, a child who is coming from the foster care system, or even one who has been removed unexpectedly or rapidly from their own home. This is a good opportunity to keep communication open with your biological child and bring them with you to meetings with your social worker or adoption professional. Their lived experiences may be limited based on their age, as well as their exposure to some of the difficulties children in the foster care system may experience. It’s important to allow your biological child to ask questions and to do your best to find the answers and help them feel comfortable. Furthermore, if you aren’t sure if you’ll be adopting a child from foster care, you need to work to prepare other children in your home about the purpose of foster care and what might happen should that child go back to their own biological family. 

As reunification is the end goal for most foster placements, you must work with your children as they deal with the emotions of a foster sibling leaving your home. According to, you should “talk to your children about the transition process in an age-appropriate way. Keep pictures of past foster children in the home. Ask for continued contact with past children, if appropriate and all agree that it would be positive. Many children have been a part of a fostering family and have extended their definition of family and sibling.” 

It is also critical to talk to social workers when you’re adopting or fostering an older child as they could have had experiences that will elicit certain behaviors that your biological child may not be familiar or comfortable with. Ensuring that you have constant communication and if appropriate, having your child with you when you learn about the child coming into your home and challenges that they may have faced to cause current behavior and how to adapt to it is a start to prepare your biological child for what could happen. You don’t want them to feel shocked, saddened, or unsafe if you can help it. 

This is going to be an adjustment and no matter how much you’ve prepped your child, you may have to have conversations about what it means to be a transracial family, supporting your sibling, and understanding the unique nuances of adoption further down the line. If you keep the line of communication open and include your biological child in as much of the process as possible, he or she will at least know that you have their best interests in mind as well and feel comfortable coming to you with questions or concerns.