Sibling Relationships Post-Placement


A Note From our Post Department

Although the attachment between parents and child is imperative, connection between all immediate family members is equally important. Consider how you most often feel connected to others. People tend to connect with one another when they spend time together in play, work, or creating shared memories and traditions. Therefore, as you promote good sibling attachment and relationships within your family keep the following suggestions in mind:

  • Have fun together as a family. Play is the language of children and builds connections. Team the children against the parents for team unity in games of tag, water balloon fights, charades or simple board games.
  • Develop a new family motto. The Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development encourages families to have the following rules: “stick together, no hurts, and have fun!” Guide your children to develop hand motions for all three guidelines.
  • Partner with your biological or previously adopted child to be a guide for the new child(ren). Emphasize that their new sibling doesn’t understand things like routines, rules, and where items are in the home. Your children who have been in the family for longer can be a resource to their new sibling.
  • Work on a family project or common goal together. Make a bird house for grandparents, plant a garden, or enter an event as a family such as the Lifeline Kickball tournament.
  • Be attuned. When your child experiences difficulty in adjusting to a new sibling you will note changes in behaviors and demeanor. Reflect your observation to the child as you tuck them in at night with, “You seemed a little quiet today; how are you doing?” or “I noticed that you weren’t kind to your brother; that is not like you. I wonder what is going on.” This lets your child know you see them and are willing to listen. It communicates they are not alone. Allow them to share honestly without judgment.
  • Make individual time for each child. Sharing a parent’s attention is hard! A child knowing he will have a parent’s undivided attention, even once a week, may aid in his tolerance of the extra time a parent spends with the new sibling. Assess the child’s feelings about the adoption. Is the adoption what they expected? How is it different? What is hard for them? What has been the best part? It is common for a child to wish for the family they had before the adoption. Validating your child’s emotions about the adoption will go a long way in promoting acceptance.
  • Reassure each child of his/her place and importance to your family.
  • As much as possible, continue your family traditions. If celebrations must be modified in the first year post-adoption, assure your children they are not forgotten and you will return to them in the future; then, enlist their help in making some new traditions in which everyone can participate. Maybe it is time to make Taco Tuesday an official family tradition!

Whether your children are close in age or not; whether they are the same or different genders; whether they verbalize any challenges or not; helping our children grow in their love for each other must be a priority. In families with children who have a history of trauma, having parents who are attuned to any potential issues that might prevent attachment and who are proactive in helping positive relationships form between siblings is vital.

Please know our Post Adoption Team is available to talk through any sibling or attachment questions with you. Please do not hesitate to contact us at 205-967-0811.