Preparing to Blend Biological and Adopted Foster Children
November is National Adoption Month, and nearly 1,000 kids in foster care here in Virginia are looking for the right home.
If you're interested in adopting foster children and creating a blended family, you're likely wondering where to start. The prospect of bringing children into your home is exciting, but you're probably thinking about how your biological child or children will react; this is very normal, and social workers are very used to talking about this unique challenge with potential foster or adoptive parents.
If you're preparing to blend biological and adopted foster children, the key is to start preparing your family early. Use this guide to walk you through some tips and suggestions to ensure the process goes smoothly.
This Is a Transition for Everyone
As a potential foster parent, getting wrapped up in everything you need to do to welcome a foster child into your home is easy. It can feel like a lot to balance, from attending training sessions to preparing for the home study.
However, it's crucial to take time to talk to your biological children at this time. They likely have questions about what to expect, and if you want a smooth transition, you'll want to start preparing them early.
Foster or adopted and biological children have a unique and fantastic development journey within your family. Your biological children represent you and your values, so there is a good chance they will see why you wish to help a child in the foster care system to find stability and love.
At this point, you want to include them in the process. Tell them their love and support are a big part of making the adopted children feel welcome in your home.
Talk about foster children and the importance of providing a home for the many kids in need. Explain why you decided to follow this path and how it might change the family. Accept their questions and concerns.
Give your kids time to adjust to the idea and learn more about the process. It's a journey for everyone. Fostering and adoption can positively impact your kids, though there may be an adjustment period.
Also, give your kids some credit. You'll likely be surprised by how welcoming and loving they can be. Helping other children their age can help foster children feel more at ease and open up.
We'll cover some tips on preparing your kids later that will make explaining the process and helping them adjust easy.
Be Open With Your Intentions and Purpose
You've likely already talked to your spouse or partner about the possibility of fostering and adoption. Maybe they want to foster, but you're unsure if you're ready or willing to take that step. Again, giving them time to process the idea and learn more is key to ensuring a smooth transition.
It would be best if you were open with your intentions, goals, and purpose. Tell your family, including your children, why you want to pursue fostering or adoption. If your goal is to adopt kids through the foster system, prepare your family for the new change.
Perhaps your reason is faith-based, and you believe this is what God wants you to do. Maybe you're not religious, but you want to help the thousands of kids in the foster system find their forever homes. Whatever your reason, be sure to express it openly.
Have the Right Attitude
Kids not only mimic behaviors but also pick up on your attitude. You've often heard "lead by example," but that applies to more than just your actions. If you have a positive attitude and are excited and ready to welcome a new addition into the family, your kids will pick up on it.
They're more likely to learn and see this as a positive change. But even if they're not there yet, you can help them with the new adjustment by being patient and understanding.
Preparing to Blend Biological and Adopted Foster Children
Where do you begin when you're preparing to blend biological and adopted foster children? First, be sure to talk to them early on. You must give them time to adjust to the idea, ask questions, and express concerns.
Adoption is a big step, and it doesn't just affect the parents but the biological children as well. However, there are many beautiful benefits of having a blended family that you get to experience.
Here are a few tips on talking to your kids about adopting a foster child and bringing them into the family.
Let Your Kids Learn Through Reading
Many excellent books exist on fostering, adoption, and blended families. Children's books are beneficial for young kids as it walks them through what to expect in an easy-to-understand manner.
Buy a few from your local bookstore, check some out from the library, and give them to your children to read. Even better, read them together so they can ask questions. It's a great starting point in getting your kids to learn more.
Remind Them They're Not Being Replaced
Sometimes, kids feel left out when a new sibling is brought into the family, whether through marriage or adoption. It's natural for children to go through various emotions at this time.
However, you must be there for them if they feel upset, angry, or anxious. You don't want your kids to bottle up their emotions, which can have long-term physical and mental health effects.
Let them know that no one is there to replace them. They will have to learn to share with their new sibling, but they are not being forgotten or replaced.
Show your kids lots of love at this time and let them know they can come to you with any questions or difficulties. Teach them that this is a time to get excited about their new sibling. Talk more to them or let them read books on introducing new siblings to help them adjust.
Learn From Other Families
Plenty of families out there have gone through what you're preparing for. Many stories and advice are available on creating a blended family, from blogs to podcasts.
Reading these stories or talking to these individuals can give you an idea of what to expect, how to overcome challenges, and how to help your spouse and kids adjust to a new child.
Connecting with these other families can also help you create a network of trusted friends that will be there for you to help out if needed.
Get Your Kids Involved
One way to help your biological children feel more connected to the process and their new sibling is to get them involved. Have them help prepare the house and their new sibling's room. You might have them paint the walls or choose decorations or toys.
Teach them that sharing is caring. There will be times when you have to divide your time between your children, and they have to expect this. They also should learn to share their toys, the TV, video game consoles, etc.
Expect to Face Challenges
Parenting is a complex yet rewarding journey. Prepare yourself to face challenges and obstacles. Your kids may argue or fight, or there may not feel like enough time in the day to get through all your tasks and family responsibilities.
That's okay, and it's to be expected. Take a deep breath, and remember that you're all in this together. Talk to your kids and remind them that you love them all equally. Teach them not to say things they wouldn't want to hear themselves.
Ask your spouse or partner for help or reach out to friends and family members. Sometimes you won't have the time or energy to get everything done, but you can always ask for help. Your local church community may also have members or programs to help you.
Give Everyone Time
You can't expect everyone to adjust to the new change at the same rate. It may take your kids some time to get used to having a new sibling, and you should expect this.
The most important advice is to be patient and give everyone the time they need to get comfortable. Adoption allows you to experience new joys and create special memories. You're helping children in need and sharing your love.
Remember to allow time for everyone to reach the same page, communicate clearly, and ask for help when you need it.
Questions to Ask Your Kids
You can begin the learning process by sitting your kids down and asking them some questions to get them thinking. This will facilitate communication and make the adoption process easier for your kids.
Here are some questions you can ask them to learn how they're feeling:
- Are you concerned or afraid of anything?
- What will be the easiest and most challenging part for you?
- What are your expectations?
- Is there anything I can do to help make this easier for you?
One Happy Family
The key to preparing to blend biological and adopted foster children is to talk to them and get them involved. Use these tips to start, and soon you'll have a beautiful blended family.
If you're ready to foster and adopt, the first step is to reach out to us at FosterVA. We'll help prepare you for the journey ahead and match you with one of Virginia's many children in need of their forever homes.