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Maintaining Sibling Connections for Adopted Children

Maintaining Sibling Connections for Adopted Children

Explore the importance of maintaining sibling connections for children adopted from foster care and learn strategies to support these relationships.

Understanding the Impact of Sibling Separation

When siblings are separated due to adoption from foster care, it can have a profound impact on their emotional well-being.

Sibling relationships provide a sense of familiarity, support, and companionship, which can be crucial for children who have experienced the instability of the foster care system. Separation from siblings may lead to feelings of loss, grief, and a sense of disconnection.

It is highly recommended that adoptive parents prioritize maintaining connections with their child's biological siblings and half-siblings whenever possible. Despite efforts by foster care agencies to keep siblings together, situations may arise where siblings are separated. For example: 

  • One sibling is in foster care while another remains with the biological parents or with a family member 
  • A sibling may have “aged out” of the foster care system 
  • Siblings may have been adopted by a different family

Even in situations where siblings have been separated or have had limited contact in the past, it is incredibly beneficial to prioritize maintaining those biological connections. Adopted children naturally have a curiosity about their genetic origins, and many find comfort in the bond they share with their siblings from their original family. These siblings often serve as a crucial link to their biological heritage and personal history, representing a connection to their roots.

Some children may have conflicting emotions about their birth parents, but often have more positive experiences with their siblings. Keeping that connection intact will enable them to maintain access to that sibling relationship, ideally for the long term.


Strategies for Maintaining Sibling Connections

There are several strategies that can help maintain sibling connections for adopted foster children:

  1. Foster open communication
    Encourage regular communication between siblings through phone calls, video chats, or letters. This can help them stay connected and maintain a sense of closeness.
  2.  Arrange visits
    Whenever possible, arrange for siblings to have visits with each other. It can be difficult if siblings are living with their biological family, in foster care, or adopted by other families that are geographically distant. Take the initiative to contact the other families and plan times for siblings to connect. This can be done through planned outings, family gatherings, or even sleepovers. These visits provide opportunities for bonding and creating lasting memories.
  3. Support shared interests
    Identify and support shared interests between siblings. Encouraging them to participate in activities they both enjoy can strengthen their bond and provide a common ground for connection.
  4. Maintain sibling traditions
    If there are any traditions or rituals that siblings had while in foster care, try to continue them in the new family setting. This can provide a sense of continuity and stability. Whether it is a yearly trip, the exchanging of gifts around the holidays, or just a special connection to a particular restaurant or park - find the ways they have connected in the past and continue to nurture them.


Maintaining sibling connections after adoption can be difficult, but it is possible with some planning and sacrifice. Children adopted from foster care have already lost so much in their lives - they shouldn't have to lose connection with their siblings too.

Navigating family relationships can bring big emotions, especially for youth adopted from foster care. Check out our in-depth guide on parenting children who have experienced trauma for tools and resources on how to help your child thrive.