If you are giving a baby up for adoption and already have kids, it’s inevitable that you are going to have discussions with your older children about this decision. Whether you are giving a second child up for adoption or giving a third child up for adoption, it’s completely normal to wonder about how to explain putting a baby up for adoption to your older kids. In fact, it’s good that this is something you’re already thinking about.

Our first recommendation is to begin talking to your children about adoption as soon as you determine that this is the path you’re going to take for your unborn baby. If you are going to give a second child up for adoption — or give a third child up for adoption — it’s important that you are honest with your other children regarding this plan. Of course, it’s important to use age-appropriate language, but make sure you make it clear that this baby will always be their sister or brother, but that they’ll be going to live with another family who want a child very, very much.

If you work with an adoption professional, he or she can help you to come up with a plan to talk to your other children that’s specifically tailored to your unique situation. Your adoption professional can also help you to develop plans for your children to receive additional support and education, as it may take time for them to understand the emotions are feeling.

In the meantime, though, if you are giving a baby up for adoption and already have kids, here are some ideas to make this process as smooth as possible for your other children.

  1. Watch adoption movies. Helping to normalize adoption for your children can be a good first step when helping them to understand your decision to give your third child up for adoption, and a good way to do that is by watching movies that tackle the subject. Make sure that the outcome is positive, and also make sure the movie is age appropriate. “Juno,” for example, can be great for older teens, but it might not be suitable for children in elementary school.
  2. Read adoption books. Reading about adoption is another way to help normalize the practice in the eyes of your other children. No matter how old your child is, there are quite a few suitable books for you to read to them or for them to read on their own.
  3. Include them (when possible) in your adoption plan. Beyond wondering how to explain putting a baby up for adoption to your older kids, know that you can involve them in your adoption plan, as well. If your children are old enough and you’re comfortable with it, you can let them look through adoptive family profiles with you. The more they know about where their sibling will be growing up, the better. If you choose, they can even get to know your child’s future adoptive family with you.
  4. Talk with them and ensure they feel safe to express their emotions. As you choose to give a second child up for adoption or give a third child up for adoption, it’s undoubtedly an emotional time in your life. Remember, though, that this is going to be difficult for your children as well. Start by sharing your own feelings with them. Make sure they know it’s okay to experience a wide range of emotions, even though you’re ultimately happy with your adoption decision. Let them know that it’s okay to be confused and to have difficult feelings, and it’s okay to talk to you about it.

Above all else, keep in mind that your children’s feelings are important in how to explain putting a baby up for adoption to your older kids. They can’t make this decision for you, but it’s important to make sure they understand what’s happening. They are going to have complex feelings about adoption just as you do, and they need to know that they can work through those emotions with you instead of by themselves.

If you are pregnant with a second baby but want to give it up for adoption (or with a third or fourth child), the first thing to do is to reach out to an adoption professional. From there, he or she can help you to navigate the rest of the process — including discussing your adoption plan with your older children.

Here are a few adoption professionals you might wish to consider: