Different families have different ways of coping with the sibling rivalry issues that can arise when one child is a biological addition to the family, while the other was adopted. Whether the natural-born child (or children) arrived before or after their adopted brethren, the situation should be addressed as early as possible so that no member of the family is made to feel neglected or less-than. Here are some natural and loving ways to go about making sure these siblings won’t give a second thought to any feelings of differences between them.

Adopting when there are already children in the house

Whether the new addition to the family is conceived by mom and dad or arriving from a previous home, the existing children should be made to feel part of the process. Discuss how special the sibling relationship is and how lucky they’ll be to get to experience that. Depending on their ages, tell them stories about their own arrivals into the world, and how exciting it was to know that they were on the way. In any case, make sure they realize that they’ll always have a special place in the family, no matter how large it gets.

Strive for equal treatment for all

While it’s essential for adopted children to feel loved and welcome, avoid giving them special treatment—that could create a rift between the biological siblings and the “chosen” ones. Be consistent when it comes to issues like rewards and discipline.

Keep an eye out for problem behavior

If the kids are squabbling over whose turn it is to watch which television programs, there’s nothing to worry about—this is normal sibling behavior. If, however, one of them is acting out in troublesome ways, the situation needs to be addressed. It’s a good idea to keep in touch with the adoption agency, especially during the transition period, as the professionals there have a lot of experience in this area and can deal with any questions from an outsider’s perspective.


If it becomes necessary to enlist the aid of a therapist, make sure that he or she has experience in the field of sibling relationships, particularly concerning adoption. Finally, don’t single out the child who’s having the issues. Instead, the changing dynamic should be presented as a family issue, one that you’re going to deal with together.