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How to Explain Adoption to Your Older Children

When Giving a Second, Third or Fourth Child Up for Adoption

Many women worry whether it’s “ok” to place their second, third or fourth child up for adoption. What does this mean for them as a mother? What does this choice mean for their older children? And if they go through with the adoption, how will they explain it to their other kids?

This is a very common concern for many women considering or pursuing adoption. Here’s 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 complicated decision.

“Can I Give a Second Child Up for Adoption?” “Can I Give My Third Baby Up for Adoption?”

Prospective birth mothers sometimes worry, “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 actually 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 is able to 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.

Women who choose adoption are sometimes first-time moms, but more commonly, this is their second, third, or fourth baby. Remember that choosing adoption when you’re raising other children does not make you any less of a good mother. Adoption is a difficult decision that requires incredible amounts of strength, selflessness and love.

Also 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 my 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 specialist 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.

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 and 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 they 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. Your adoption specialist will help customize a plan specifically tailored toward explaining 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 another mommy and daddy 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:

There are countless other adoption-related movies, so search online and find one that you feel is appropriate for your child’s age.

Reading Adoption Books with Your Children

There are also adoption-themed children’s books that may help prepare your children for the 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.

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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.

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

Deciding to “give” a second or third child up for adoption is never easy. If you would like more detailed information on giving a second child up for adoption or how to explain putting a baby up for adoption to your older kids, or if we can help provide free counseling to your child, contact an adoption specialist at 1-800-ADOPTION or receive free adoption information online.

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

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is American Adoptions the right adoption agency choice for many birth mothers?

American Adoptions is one of the largest licensed adoption agencies in the United States. Each year, we work with thousands of women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy and offer assistance to these women. Our large, caring staff is able to assist you seven days a week and provide you with one-on-one counseling about your pregnancy and available options.

You should choose an adoption agency where you feel completely comfortable with their services and staff. With American Adoptions, you will work with an Adoption Specialist who is on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Adoption Specialist will be your advocate and will provide support and guidance as you create an adoption plan that is right for you.

How will the family tell my child about me and the adoption when my child is older?

Each family has their own style of introducing adoption to the child. When you are matched with an adoptive family, you can ask them this question. If you would like your Adoption Specialist to discuss it for you, just let her know. He or she can share your wishes or provide good ideas from other adoptive families.

You will also be able to share what you want your baby to know about you. You can complete a keepsake booklet to share hobbies, stories, photos of you and your family and a letter to your baby. The adoptive family can provide this to your child as he or she grows older. Be as creative as you like! Some birth mothers have even knitted a special blanket as a gift to their baby or given a similar symbol of their love.

The father of your baby can fill out the birth father's keepsake booklet or write a letter too. You may have other family members who would also like to share photos or a letter to the baby. This is your opportunity to pass on your and your family's love and to share your personality, history and reasons for choosing adoption. The adoptive family will treasure whatever information you provide and will share it with the baby at an appropriate age. In most adoptive homes, the word adoption is in the child's vocabulary early on, and adoption is celebrated in their lives.

Additional Resources

Teen Pregnancy - Information for Young Women

While not every woman who chooses adoption is a young mother, many are. Through adoption, many young women have found an ability to give their babies the best life possible, while finding the opportunity to realize their own dreams, as well. Call American Adoptions today at 1-800-ADOPTION.

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Adoption Glossary

Do adoption terms and phrases leave you feeling confused? Learn the meaning to key adoption words and phrases with our comprehensive adoption glossary.

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