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Adoption Techniques for Treating Adoptive Parent Issues
Adoptive Parent continuing education addiction counselor CEUs

Section 6
Track #6 - Effectively Using the "Role Play" Technique to Prepare Siblings

CEUs Question 6 | CEUs Answer Booklet | Table of Contents | Adoption
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On the last track, we discussed techniques for breaking the news.  This has included the “chair dialogue” technique, the “write a letter” technique, the reflection technique and the rating technique.

Do you have a client who is adopting in addition to having other children already?  How do these children respond?  On this track, we will discuss preparing siblings.  This will include family discussion, the “role-play” technique and when siblings are also adopted.  As you listen, compare the techniques you use with those presented on this track.

While the decision to adopt belongs to the parents, taking their other children’s feelings into account can be helpful to those children.  In my experience, successful older child adoptions may require additional commitment on the part of the parents, the adopted child, and siblings.  Have you found, as I have, that a child who is totally opposed to the idea of a new sibling can disrupt a placement?

Branden and Cathy, both age 44, had two biological children, Chase, age 9, and Libby, age 6.  Branden and Cathy were considering adopting a third child.  Branden stated, “We know that we definitely need to prepare Chase and Libby for the possibility of adopting another child, but how do we do this?”

I stated, “If Chase and Libby are old enough to comprehend both the rewards and the difficulties coming up in adoption, they may want to voice their opinions.”

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3 Ways to Prepare Siblings

Share on Facebook #1 Family Discussion
I continued to state, “First, having a realistic discussion with Chase and Libby about the pros and cons of adopting can uncover their reservations or objections.  Then, as a family, you can discuss ways to make Chase and Libby more comfortable with the idea.  Often, children can think of many good things regarding having another sibling, but are unrealistic about the adjustment period.  It may be hard for them to comprehend a brother who breaks their toys in a fit of jealousy or a sister who refuses to speak to them for days.”

Share on Facebook # 2 Technique: Role-play
I also suggested that Branden and Cathy try a role-play.  I stated, “One way to prepare a child for a new sibling is to role-play possible scenarios.  I have found this to be especially helpful with children under the age of seven.  You might pretend to be the new sibling and create a disturbance.  You might say something like, “I don’t like you and you’re not my brother and if you tell Mom I said this I’m going to beat you up tonight when she’s asleep!”  How do your children handle this?  At this point, you can demonstrate to Chase or Libby how to confront their new sibling, or when to tell you about his or her behavior.”

Share on Facebook #3 When Siblings are Also Adopted
In a different scenario, if the siblings are also adopted, those siblings’ feelings about their adoptions may re-surface or recur.  Cliff, age 37, and Wanda, age 34, were looking at adopting a four-year-old boy.  The idea of a new adoption brought out feelings of abandonment and insecurity in their eight-year-old daughter, Claire, who had been adopted as a baby.  Wanda stated, “Shortly after a family discussion about adoption, Claire ran to me, sobbing, ‘I guess I’m just going to have to find a new home then!’”

I stated, “If Claire is voicing opposition to a possible placement, it could be that she is afraid that a brother will take her place and she will have to leave, or that you will love her less.  I have found that this feeling is normal for any child who gets a new sibling, but for an adopted child it may be more intense.  Regardless of how irrational Claire’s feelings may seem to you, and maybe even to her, they are very real.  Claire may know in her mind that her place in your family is safe, but may feel very differently.”

Have you found, as I have, that many parents and professionals recommend waiting at least a year between adoptions?  That way the first child has a chance to adjust before another child joins the family.

I continued to state to Wanda and Cliff, “If Claire is reacting negatively to the idea of a new sibling, you may have to summon up much patience and encouragement to help her through it.  I have found that often children will regain their equilibrium after the adoption occurs and they see that their place in the family is secure.  But be prepared for some rocky days before and immediately after placement.  Being aware of the probability of adoption feelings resurfacing and being willing to discuss them, sometimes repeatedly, with Claire can go a long way toward easing the adjustment.”

Do you have a Cliff or a Wanda whose other children are also adopted?  Might he or she benefit from hearing this track?  On this track, we have discussed preparing siblings.  This has included family discussion, the “role-play” technique and when siblings are also adopted.

On the next track, we will discuss preparing the new child.  This will include the “photo album” technique, preparing the child’s room and pre-placement visits.

Online Continuing Education QUESTION 6
What are some issues an adopted child for the arrival of a second adopted child? To select and enter your answer go to CEU Answer Booklet.

 
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