When Your Sibling is Being Placed for Adoption
The relationship between siblings is special. It’s often complicated — who else can get under your skin like your brother or sister? But at the end of the day, you know they’ll always have your back, and you’ll always have theirs.
That’s why it can be so difficult when you learn that your younger sibling is going to be placed for adoption.
How can you respond to this situation? You may have an urge to fix it, or to stop the adoption. Or, maybe you already think it’s the best option.
Knowing how to respond to something like this requires wisdom and maturity beyond your years. We wish we could tell you exactly what to do, but every adoption situation is too unique for that.
Instead, the purpose of this guide is to help you understand why your mom might be choosing adoption and give you a few practical tips for dealing with the situation.
What Type of Mom “Gives Her Baby Up” for Adoption?
One misconception people have about adoption is that only young, single mothers “give their babies up.” The truth is that women from all walks of life choose adoption in response to an unwanted pregnancy, including women who are already mothers.
You’re not alone. The situation you are in — when your mom is placing your younger sibling for adoption — happens to a lot of people. That doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. But, it may help to know that others have experienced the same thing. There’s often comfort in solidarity.
It’s also worth thinking about that phrase: “Give her baby up.”
It’s a common way of talking about adoption. But, it’s not really true. When your mom chooses adoption for your siblings, she’s not “giving up.” She’s doing something that she thinks will be best for your siblings, for you, and for herself. It’s a hard choice, and it’s a brave one, too.
Adoption comes from love. Realizing this may change the way you think about what your mom is doing. It’s not “giving up.” It’s putting others’ needs above her own in a way that is, honestly, heroic.
How You Can Help with the Adoption
Before we go any further, you need to understand this: It’s not your job to make the adoption successful or to make sure everything turns out okay.
There are many benefits to adoption, and the process can often result in a better future for your family, including your sibling. But, it is not your job to make it happen.
With that said, there are some things you can do to help your mom during the adoption process. If you feel up for it, you can do these things be a supportive presence and important voice during this journey:
Be Supportive: This isn’t easy for your mom. She’s putting her family ahead of herself when she chooses adoption. You might feel confused or angry, and it is totally within your rights to feel those things. If you can, try to stay supportive. Don’t take your anger out on your mom. You can choose to put her needs ahead of your own by offering support and encouragement.
Give Input: The mother of the baby is in charge of the adoption process. That means your mom will have a lot of decisions to make, including choosing the right adoptive parents for your sibling. If she is open to your input, you could help her make these life-changing decisions.
Advocate Openness: Open adoption is an ongoing relationship between the birth family and the adoptive family after placement. This means that you can have an ongoing connection to your sibling after they have been placed for adoption. Does that sound good to you? Express your support for open adoption early in the process.
Staying Connected After Adoption
The last point is worth exploring in greater detail. The majority of adoptions today — more than 90% — are at least semi-open. Research has shown that open adoption has lasting benefits for everyone involved. Many adoption agencies advocate for prospective birth parents to choose open adoption.
While it is ultimately your parents’ choice, you do have a voice in this. If you have a strong desire to stay connected with your sibling after placement, then it is your right to express that.
There are many different levels of openness, ranging from:
- Picture and letter updates
- Emails and texting
- Video calls
- In-person visits
When your mom creates her adoption plan, she gets to choose the level of post-adoption openness. If you would like a say in that, then you should start a conversation with her. Without making demands, try to express how important this relationship will be to you, and why a certain level of openness will be good for everyone.
The emotions of adoption are difficult to process. Plus, it’s not like this is a common experience with your friends and other people you know. You may not be able to find someone else who has gone through this. That’s why it is always a good idea to reach out to professional services like counseling.
If you have access to a counselor — maybe through your school or a local community center — don’t be afraid to talk with them. It’s not “weakness” to look for help. It takes strength to acknowledge difficult feelings and put in the work to process them in a healthy way.
Taking care of your own mental health may be the best thing you can do during this time. It puts you in a better position to support your mom and, ultimately, form a lasting connection with your siblings after their adoption.
There’s a lot to learn about adoption and how it affects adopted children. If you’d like to learn more about what life as an adoptee is like, you can take a look at our guides on adoptee life.