Telling your child that he or she is adopted is an important step in your relationship. It’s not an easy thing to do, but there are ways to make this experience a positive one. The way your child reacts will depend on his or her age. Knowing what to expect and how to deal with it beforehand can help make this situation less stressful for you and your child.
Before telling your child that he or she is adopted, gather as much information as possible about the birth parents. Your child will likely be curious and ask several questions about who his or her birth mother and father are. Having this information available will allow you to satisfy your child’s natural curiosity. If your child is too young to fully understand what it means to be adopted, you should still work on gathering this information. This way, you will be prepared for when your child does begin asking questions.
You don’t have to wait until your child reaches a certain age before telling him or her about being adopted. You can introduce the concept of adoption when your child is a toddler or preschooler, even though he or she might not have a firm grasp of what it means. Bringing this topic up at such a young age helps your child adjust to it and helps him or her gradually understand it. Tell your child about the day you brought him or her home for the first time. Show pictures of that day and mention how happy your child made you feel.
Give an Honest Explanation
Be ready to explain who your child’s birth parents are and why they decided to give him or her up for adoption. You can decide how much to tell your child depending on his or her age. Basic details are fine for very young children, but older children might want a more detailed explanation. It’s important to be honest yet tactful. Focus on the positive aspects of your child’s adoption and avoid providing negative details about his or her birth parents. You might need to reassure your child that being put up for adoption wasn’t his or her fault.
Young children might become worried that their adoptive parents will decide to find a new home and new parents for them. After losing one set of parents, they might need to be reassured that they will not be losing another. Let your child know that this is his or her permanent home and family.
Children generally begin understanding the concept of adoption by the time they’re 7 or 8 years old. You should expect your child to go through several emotions that are similar to the natural grieving process. At first, your child might refuse to accept that he or she was adopted. This might turn into a feeling of regret or sadness that stems from not knowing his or her birth parents and wondering what life might have been like. Your child might also feel ashamed about being given up for adoption. It’s important to encourage your child to discuss his or her feelings with you. Talking about these feelings will help your child adjust and learn to accept the fact that he or she was adopted.