Sibling Rivalry Between Adoptive and Biological Children
To continue with the topic of adoption, I wanted to take a look at the interactions between children in the home and an adopted child being brought into that home, and what feelings can be experienced. An article on Healthychildren.org describes conflicts and competition that can spark between siblings in a home where an adopted child has been introduced. “Some families are composed of both adoptive and biological children. And that can sometimes create conflict, anger, and hurt feelings. Remember, all children will find reasons to argue.” –Healthychildren.org.
It is to be expected that at some point, the adopted child may feel different than the rest of their family. This can make the child feel left out. Similarly, the biological child can also feel left out, especially with attention being put on the newest member of the family. This is explained a bit more by a therapist and social worker on Parents.com: “One land mine to watch out for is going overboard with special treatment for the adopted child, which can have negative effects on both adopted and biological kids. Parents become so worried about the adopted child’s not feeling wanted, but the idea that adoption makes him the ‘special child’ tends to give him less room to say, ‘Sometimes I don’t think it’s a wonderful thing that I’m adopted.’ Also, other kids in the family might say, ‘Wait a minute, am I not so special?'” With the possibility that each child in the family might feel different or left out, this can spark arguments or hurtful words.
Healthychildren.org explains, “Sometimes academic or athletic differences between your children can seem exaggerated because of their different origins…their differing backgrounds can heighten any tensions that might emerge because of their respective school performances.” Similarly, anything that can be a “competition” might end up leading to conflicts. Children in the home might compete with each other over homework, sports, and making friends. Parents.com shared that, “We see typical sibling rivalry, as in, ‘Mom loves you best because you’re adopted; no, she loves you best because you’re her biological kid.’ Adoption is just the word they stick in there.”
I’m not sure there is any way to prevent all the conflicts that a family might experience, especially between siblings, but for an adoptive family, it might be best to do some work upfront. Parents.com has some great tips to make everyone feel included. Prior to welcoming the adopted child into the home, they suggest speaking to the children already in the home, letting them know that you as parents wish to grow the family and wish to give them a sibling. This shows the children that this is a decision that you as parents are making and that it does not mean the children are “not enough.” They also suggest including the children in all the preparations like decorating their new sibling’s room and even giving jobs (depending their ages) to them such as reading books or helping more around the house to show them their worth.
No matter the family dynamics, we will all see conflicts in our households and we will all see arguments between siblings. But hopefully, with conflict comes appreciation and realization of how much love the household has. I think I’ll close this article with a reminder: “Remember, all children will find reasons to argue.” –Healthychildren.org.