Monday, June 5, 2017

Dear Sugar: How to Prepare Your Child for a Sibling-by-Adoption

Dear Sugar:

My children love the movie Stuart Little.   The other day when they were watching it, I realized when Stuart is brought home by his new parents, George arrives home from school anxious to meet his new brother.  But when he meets Stuart (who is, surprise, a little mouse and not a human boy), George is unimpressed, apathetic even.   George's parents were thrilled to adopt Stuart, but George?  Not so much.   Needless to say, the parents did a poor job of preparing their son for a new sibling, particularly one who didn't quite look like who George expected.  (I promise, the movie is pretty good, but this was a what-not-to-do moment.)  

How do you prepare a child for a sibling who will come into your family by adoption, particularly when the child is young-ish and adoption can be a overwhelming and complex?   

Here are five simple suggestions:

1:  Read a book.   

Doc is about the popular Disney family and their adoption of a new baby.  One Special Day is about a little boy who anxiously awaits for his new sibling to come home.    Both feature bold, colorful, engaging illustrations and simple enough text.   

2:  Watch a movie. 

The #1 movie I recommend is Big Brother Binky.  My kids LOVE this movie.  Binky learns his family is going to adopt a baby.  He goes through many emotions:  jealousy, happiness, frustration, acceptance.   I cannot say enough good things about it!   

3:  Snag this toy.

The Basket of Babies toy is fabulous!  The dolls come in three different skin tones and have interchangeable outfits.  They are small enough (travel well) and are soft and cuddly.   You can utilize this to talk to your child about race and sex.   We were always open to a child of any race and of either sex, so the toy was great to explain that we didn't know what our baby would look like.  (Plus, maybe you're open to adopting multiples!)   It's also fun to practice taking care of babies.  

4:  Special box.  

Create a special box where your little one can place toys/clothes/etc. that he/she wants to give to the new baby.  This is a physical representation of what is to come.   Plus this helps the sister or brother move from feeling "little" to "big."   

5:  Nursery set up.

Another physical representation of adding a child to your family is creating a space for that child. Give your little one jobs:  arranging books on a shelf, folding clothing, sorting gifts you receive, choosing a paint color, etc.  The more you can include your little one, the better!   

What suggestions do you have?  What worked for your family?  

-This post contains Amazon affiliate links

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