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Explaining Your Adoption Decision to Your Older Children

[Putting a Second or Third Child Up for Adoption]

If you are considering adoption for an unplanned pregnancy while currently raising your child or children, you likely have various thoughts and concerns. Many women in similar situations question:  

  •  Is it "OK" giving second child up for adoption? What about placing a third or fourth child up for adoption?  
  • What does this mean for me as a mother?   
  • What does this choice mean for my older children?   
  • If I go through with the adoption, how will I explain it to my other kids?  

Here’s what you need to know: Putting a second child up for adoption (or a third, or a fourth or a fifth) is absolutely OK. In fact, placing a baby for adoption is an incredibly brave, selfless and heroic decision that you are making out of love for your baby and your other children.  

“Even when [my oldest daughter] Trinity was in my belly, I promised her, ‘I’m going to give you the absolute best life that you deserve,’” said Lindsey, a birth mother who placed her second child for adoption. “When I got pregnant with Charlotte, I promised her the exact same thing. Giving both of them the best life meant placing Charlotte for adoption and continuing to take care of Trinity and the health issues that she has.” 

To read and watch more of Lindsey’s story, click here. 

With many adoptive parents, birth parents and adoptees on staff, American Adoptions has the personal adoption experience to handle your adoption with the care and respect you deserve. We feel strongly that you are a hero for considering adoption.

Our agency has helped moms in thousands of different scenarios, and we are here to help you too. From support during your adoption to professional advice on how to tell your older children about your adoption decision and educate them on the process, we can help make this experience a positive one for you, your baby, and your other children.  

This guide will explore what you need to know about “giving” a second child up for adoption (or a third or fourth), and how to talk to your older children about this decision. You can always call 1-800-ADOPTION or fill out our online form to get all of the answers you need about anything related to adoption or pregnancy.   

Until then, continue reading to learn more about your options and explaining adoption to your older children.  

Can I Give a Second Child Up for Adoption?  

You may be wondering, “I’m pregnant with my second baby, but want to give up for adoption – is that possible?”  The answer is yes.   

“Giving a baby up” for adoption when you already have kids is not only possible, it’s incredibly common. The majority of women who choose to place a baby for adoption are already raising older children. They often feel that they’re not ready or able to provide for another child at this point in their lives and that their family would suffer by adding another child.   

Instead, they choose to place their baby with an adoptive family who can provide for him or her. They feel this is in the best interest of their entire family, including their baby.

So, whether this is your second, third, or fourth pregnancy or beyond, know that adoption is always an option for you. In many cases, it’s not just an option, it’s the best decision a mom can make. 

“I am very proud to say that since choosing adoption, my family has come a long way from where we were. It took a lot of hard work and growing up, but I wouldn’t change a thing,” said Heather, a birth mother who used American Adoptions to successfully place her baby for adoption while raising other children.  

She shares her story here, where you will also be able to find other testimonials and adoption stories — some which may be very similar to your situation. Being able to relate to women who have gone through some of the thoughts and emotions you are currently experiencing may help bring you peace of mind.  

Women who choose adoption can be first-time moms, but even more commonly, this is their second, third, or fourth baby. Remember that putting a second child up for adoption (or third or fourth or beyond) is never “giving up.” 

While it’s common to use language like “giving second child up for adoption,” this phrasing has negative connotations that aren’t at all true. You are not “giving up” by “giving” a third child up for adoption — you are making an incredibly brave, selfless, and loving decision in the best interest of all of your children, even though it isn’t easy.  

Sometimes, women will place more than one child for adoption in their lives. After all, unplanned pregnancies are just that — unplanned. Some women who are placing a second child up for adoption will even place their baby with the same family that they chose the first time if that family is ready for another child. If this describes your situation, you can reach out to your adoption professional to learn more about potentially having both of your birth children raised together by the same adoptive family, or about finding another amazing family for your youngest.  

Frances and Matthew chose adoption for three of their five children. Their youngest daughter, Jane, was placed in an open adoption through American Adoptions — a relationship that not only involves Frances and Matthew, but also their two daughters. 

“[The adoptive parents] Chris and Courtney consider Matthew and me still Jane’s parents and my two daughters her sisters, also,” Frances said. “I think that’s amazing.”  

To read more of Frances and Matthew’s story, click here 

How to Explain Putting a Baby Up for Adoption to Your Older Kids  

It’s one of the most common concerns for women “giving” a second child up for adoption, or making an adoption plan for a third or fourth child: How will I explain my adoption decision to the children I’m currently raising?  

Placing a second child for adoption can be a little confusing at first for children who would otherwise assume that the new baby would be coming home to live with you. However, children are smart, empathetic, adaptable, and they will catch on to the concept of you placing your baby for adoption faster than you might think.   

It simply takes some preparation and patience as your children process their feelings. Here’s how to explain putting a baby up for adoption to your older kids:  

Step 1: Talk to your adoption specialist. She will help customize a plan to help you explain adoption to your children. She can also help set up adoption support, training, and education for your children, so they better understand the emotions they are feeling and what it’s like to have a  brother or sister who is raised in another family.  

Step 2: Start talking about adoption early on. If possible, begin explaining adoption to your children while you are pregnant. Start by gradually introducing the concept of adoption in general terms, and once your children become more comfortable with the idea, explain that you are choosing adoption for the new baby.  

Step 3: Explain why you’re choosing adoption. Explain how your baby will always be your son or daughter and your children’s brother or sister, but that the baby will be living with other parents who are unable to have children on their own. Be sure to use age-appropriate and positive adoption language. For example, instead of saying you are “giving” your third child up for adoption, explain that you are choosing to place this baby for adoption out of love. Be honest with them, but don’t tell them more than they need to know.  

Step 4: Involve your children in the adoption process. After you have told your children about your adoption plan, it may be beneficial to involve them in the adoption process. If you feel it is appropriate, include your children in the selection of the adoptive family by having them help you look through family print profiles and video profiles. You may even choose to have your child get to know the adoptive family along with you, either over the phone or in person.  

Step 5: Allow your children to express their emotions. While this is an emotional time for you, remember that your children are also most likely experiencing a wide range of emotions. Encourage your children to express their emotions by having them write letters, draw pictures or make crafts for their brother or sister. You may also take your children shopping to allow them to pick out a special stuffed animal, blanket, or anything else that would be a meaningful gift. These activities will encourage your children to express their emotions during this time and to give their brother or sister a special keepsake.  

There is no exact timeline to follow when it comes to processing thoughts and feelings about placing a baby for adoption. Just as your own emotions may take some time, your children may take a while to accept their sibling’s placement. However, there are some things you can do in the meantime to help them understand adoption better. Read on for some of these ideas.  

Watching Adoption Movies with Your Children  

There are many children’s movies that have adoption themes. Choose movies that are appropriate for your children’s ages, and talk to them about the movie’s adoption theme afterward. Movies with adoption themes include:  

  • Hotel for Dogs  
  • The Land Before Time  
  • All Dogs Go To Heaven    
  • Angels in the Outfield  

There are countless other adoption-related movies, so search online and find one that you feel is appropriate for your child’s age. Watching movies, both fictional and non-fictional, can help a child relate and understand adoption’s better. 

Reading Adoption Books with Your Children  

There are also adoption-themed children’s books that may help prepare your children for adoption. One such book is Sam’s Sister by Juliet C. Bond. This book explains adoption from the perspective of a young girl whose mother places her younger brother for adoption. Sam’s Sister explains adoption in a positive, reassuring manner for young children to understand.  

After you tell your children about your decision, continue to create a safe environment where they are encouraged to share their feelings and where talking about adoption is OK.  

Remind them that it is normal to feel sad. But also remind them all of the good things that will take place in the baby’s life because of the adoption, and make sure they know that the baby will always be their brother or sister, no matter what.  

Birth mother Lindsey knows that adoption will continue to be a topic of conversation with her daughter Trinity as she grows up. She knows that she chose adoption in the best interest of Trinity and baby Charlotte, and that her decision is something to be proud of — and she wants to make sure her daughter understands that, as well. 

“It’s not something I want to hide from her,” Lindsey said. “There’s a way you tell a child about adoption and, as she gets older, I’ll tell her more and more — but it’s not something that I want to keep from her. It’s not a secret; it’s not anything I’m ashamed of.” 

I Want to Put My Second Child Up for Adoption – Who Can I Talk to?  

Deciding to “give” a second child up for adoption (or a third, fourth, fifth or sixth child) is never easy. If you would like more detailed information on placing a second child up for adoption or how to explain putting a baby up for adoption to your older kids, contact an adoption professional at 1-800-ADOPTION. If we can help provide free counseling to your child, or any other adoption support, fill out this online form to get more information today. 

Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. American Adoptions provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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