Over 85% of families in the United States include at least one sibling. Siblings are the longest and most significant relationship most of us will have over the course of our lifetimes. For many children, being adopted with their siblings provides continuity and mutual emotional support during what can be an exciting and overwhelming time.
For children in need of adoptive families, being adopted with a sibling has immeasurable benefits. Not only is there is a positive impact on children’s initial adjustment period with a family, but children adopted with their siblings also experience lower anxiety and higher overall mental wellness. Siblings support and understand each other’s stories in a unique way, helping each other make sense of new life experiences. Adopted siblings help each other to remember their lives before the adoption and maintain a biological connection that many adoptees feel they miss out on. Children who have siblings often learn to build strong relationships and develop healthier attachments to others as well. Siblings teach each other social skills and empathy. Families can help maintain this powerful connection by adopting a sibling group.
There is an incredible value in keeping siblings together and because of this dedicated in country commitment there are typically minimal fees for adopting sibling groups. There are many joys and unique challenges that come with adopting a sibling group.
Cathy and Chris adopted two sisters through Spence-Chapin's Colombia Host-to-Adopt program. The couple hosted the girls in their home for three weeks over the summer before finalizing their adoption. When the girls went back to Colombia at the end of the summer, Cathy and Chris completed their paperwork and then traveled to Colombia to finalize the adoption. Their daughters, now eleven and thirteen, are thriving in their new home.
“I would say that what has been so rewarding is that we’ve seen how much the girls have grown and blossomed with us. We look at pictures all the time of them when they came and they were just so little and they weren’t really cared for. They were both not just physically, but I would say emotionally, malnourished.”
When asked what advice they would give to other adoptive parents, Cathy said, “Start to develop your support network. Start to delve into what is this likely to be like.” Chris added, “I think the hardest thing about being a parent and also adopting older children is just flexibility and openness.” Cathy concluded, “For someone who is thinking about adopting school aged kids, know that it’s going to be amazing but also that it’s probably not what you imagined.”
Dave and Kristine adopted a sibling group of three from Bulgaria through Spence-Chapin. With two daughters already adopted from China, this family decided to expand again by adopting a sibling group of two boys and a girl ages eight, nine, and ten into their family. Through the Bulgaria program the family traveled twice to Bulgaria: once to meet the children and again five months later to bring them home. Now the family is adjusting to life with five children. Kristine advises adoptive families, “I would tell a couple who wanted to adopt definitely to be patient. You have to have a sense of humor. And you laugh a lot, absolutely.” Dave agrees and says, “Be ready for anything because you don’t know what you’re going to get, just like any other child that comes into this world.” Kristine adds, “For us it’s been a wonderful experience and I wouldn’t change anything.”
If you are considering adopting a sibling group, questions to ask yourself include:
- Do I want a large family?
- For those currently parenting: How would my family dynamic change by adopting a sibling group?
- Does my family have the ability to welcome two or three new members at the same time?
- Does my family have the capacity and resources to provide one on one time with each child in the sibling group?
- Can I be flexible? Do I have a sense of humor?
- What does my support network look like?
Adopt US Kids. Ten Myths and Realities of Sibling Adoptions.
Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2013). Sibling issues in foster care and adoption. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau.
Spence-Chapin brings over 100 years of experience to providing adoption and adoption-related services of the highest quality. Our mission is driven by the simple belief that every child deserves a family. We have placed over 20,000 children in loving, permanent families since 1908.
We have domestic and international adoption programs in the United States, Bulgaria, Colombia, and South Africa. We are thrilled to be one of only two American agencies approved for adoption by the South African Central Authority. We have offices located in New York and New Jersey and easily work with adoptive parents living across the United States.
We work with all types of families: married couples, unmarried couples, LGBTQ parents, single women and single men, families who are already parenting, families who are transitioning out of fertility treatments, and families of all ages, income levels, ethnicities, and religions.
Spence-Chapin focuses on educating families about who the kids in need of adoption are and preparing families to meet their needs. We guide parents with lifelong support and education through our Modern Family Center, and advocate for all types of families who want to become parents. We will share with you what we know about adoption and how you as parents can best support your child through their lifelong journey of understanding his or her unique story.