How Do I Tell My Child He/She is Adopted?
● By Anonymous
The Wilson Family
How Do I Tell My Child He/She Is Adopted?By Judee Howard, Branch Director at Bethany Christian Services
Adoption does not carry the shroud of secrecy it once did and is thought of more positively than in the past. If a child is older, they often know their history and adoption is part of their language. When children are adopted at a very young age, parents sometimes worry about when and how much to tell them. The general consensus among professionals is that children need to know the truth about their past and how they came to be where they are now. Of course, parents need to be sensitive to the child’s age (chronological and developmental) and share appropriately.
The first thing parents can do is to use the word ‘adoption’ regularly, starting when their child is an infant. There are wonderful children’s books that talk about adoption. Make sure your child knows they came from someone’s tummy, just like everyone else. Reading to your child provides opportunities for them to ask questions as their understanding grows. Be prepared and create a safe environment for your child to be curious and express their feelings about their own adoption. Parents need to understand their child’s need to know about their birth family is not a threat to their own relationship with their child. Being able to talk openly about your child’s birth family, and in a positive way, can actually strengthen your bond and bring you closer.
Most children should know their full story by age twelve or so. Let them know they are loved by their birth parents; that is why they made the choice to give them life and find a loving family who was able to raise them. If you are struggling with how to tell your children, please contact an adoption professional to talk to or who can give you some resources.
The Administration For Children & Families, a division of the Department of Health & Human Services, provides information on adopting children from foster care, what families need to know about adoption, and more.
Catholic Family Services assists families with a variety of needs, including adoption services, grief counseling, and support for those living with chronic illness.