Adopting a Sibling Group


kids-love-fall1Many families, when contemplating their adoption journey, may decide to adopt siblings. Each family seeking to adopt a sibling group will have their own reasons for making that decision. Some reasons might include the perception that it is easier to complete your family all at one time (adding a second child can be less expensive than two separate adoptions), and a desire for your children to have a sibling with similar experiences and backgrounds. While financially this is often true, and at times it is helpful for children to have shared backgrounds and experiences, adopting more than one child at a time does come with unique, and sometimes very overwhelming, challenges.

Children that are newly added to a family through birth or adoption need a lot of individual attention in order to build a parent-child bond. Building this bond with adopted children is even more difficult and requires even more intention. Children that are part of a sibling group may tend to bond more slowly with their parents, as a bond is likely already developed with the siblings that they have. Older siblings will usually take the role as caregiver and may struggle relinquishing that role, while younger children may turn to the older sibling, out of habit and/or due to common language, before turning to the parent for help. You may be interested in learning more about parenting the caregiving or “parentified” child here.

Financially, it may make sense to complete your family in one process. However, after families get home, they may struggle paying for needed medical, dental or counselling for multiple children. If this is not contemplated and planned for before the decision is made to adopt multiple children, the financial pressures can be overwhelming for many of us.

Speaking from experience, the squeaky wheel gets the oil. When you are parenting multiple children and working to build a bond with all of them, it can be challenging to simultaneously and equitably build those bonds when one child is seeking all of your attention. Parents adopting multiple children need to plan for this reality, and be intentional about setting aside time with each child individually, to work towards a deeper connection and meet their needs.

In part, many families may want to adopt siblings because they believe that the adoption process will be faster. This is not always the case, and if families are seeking a younger sibling group of two, in many country programs this may make the wait longer than it would take to be matched with one child within the same age range. Limitations on the characteristics of children that families are open to and approved for can also create a longer wait for families. The more specific a family is on gender, the number of children or the health characteristics, the longer the wait may be for the family to be matched with a child(ren).

While, it may sound easier to complete your family all at one time by adopting a sibling group, it is so important that parents understand the realities of how difficult this can be. MLJ has supported many families who have adopted sibling groups, and I myself have adopted two siblings at the same time. For some families, adopting siblings is a wonderful way to build their family, though the most successful families have had a plan and prepared for the challenges ahead. We are grateful for the families who open their homes and hearts to sibling groups in need. We have supported many families who have adopted sibling groups, and hope to help many more families have successful adoptions!

Lydia Tarr works as the International Program Director for MLJ Adoptions’ programs in Bulgaria and Ukraine. She is the adoptive mother of four children from Ukraine and was recognized as a 2013 Angel in Adoption by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute’s (CCAI) Angels in Adoption Program.