CHILDREN’S BIBLIOGRAPHYBibliography.htmlshapeimage_4_link_0
ABOUT MEAbout_Me.htmlshapeimage_5_link_0
BOOK ORDERBooks.htmlshapeimage_6_link_0
CONTACT contact.htmlshapeimage_7_link_0
PROFESSIONAL SERVICESProfessional_Services.htmlshapeimage_8_link_0
CHILDREN’S BIBLIOGRAPHYBibliography.htmlBibliography.htmlshapeimage_12_link_0
ABOUT MEAbout_Me.htmlAbout_Me.htmlshapeimage_13_link_0
BOOK ORDERBooks.htmlBooks.htmlshapeimage_14_link_0
CONTACT contact.htmlcontact.htmlshapeimage_15_link_0
PROFESSIONAL SERVICESProfessional_Services.htmlProfessional_Services.htmlshapeimage_16_link_0

Talking to Children about their Adoption

Talking to your child about their adoption is one of the most difficult tasks an adoptive parent, will encounter. This is irrespective of how comfortable they are with their family or the process of adoption itself. No matter how prepared one thinks they might be or how convinced they are that honesty best, parents more often than not are surprised at the pain this topic evokes. It bring back all the reminders that they did not build their family in a traditional way.

The adoption community for the most part supports the idea that children have a right to know about their beginnings and their parents are the best ones to talk to them about their adoption. In addition, professionals in the world of adoption agree that secrets in families can have devastating impact on familial relationships and potentially breaks the bonds on trust that are so critical to the parent-child bond.

So what do we tell these precious beings? How do we protect them and contribute to a positive and healthy sense of self? Telling the truth is the best tactic. However, these truths have to be communicated to our children in a developmentally appropriate way without over-loading them with too much information or white washing the information that is shared.

Telling is not an all or nothing event that happens one time or not at all. It is a dynamic process that evolves and changes over time. It is a fact of a family's life that is woven into its very essence. There are four phases that can be considered to the telling process.

Pre-Parenting Preparation

Before parents start talking to their children they are obligated to do their own psychological work. Hopefully before the baby is born. Being at peace with one's inability to have children like most people is a prerequisite to embarking on an adoption.

Bringing a child into your home through adoption too early can set parents up for a lifetime of anguish concerning their families "legitimacy". Families who have not come to terms with their infertility and thereby feel inadequate, inferior, and defective, may in turn be rejecting, however inadvertently, to their child and less attached.

Children in general are very sensitive to the nuances of their parent's feelings. They have an uncanny ability to sense and to know. Parents must be very careful about projecting their own insecurities and uneasiness about the nature of their relationship with this yearned for child.

If parents have achieved a reasonable level of comfort with adoption then it is very likely the children will model that feeling and find comfort that adoption is really fine.. They will be able to confront their adoption with a sense of normalcy and 'okayness'. By having these resources in place, they will be equipped to handle anything about their beginnings that surfaces over their lifetime.

Early or Formative Years   

It behooves parents to practice, practice, practice. There is no one right way to tell one's child his/her adoption story. Each parent will all have to find a way that works for them. Talking to a newborn allows parents the opportunity to achieve some familiarity with the language, inadequate as it may be, so that one does not choke every time the word adoption is spoken. It gives parents a head start so when their child is old enough to truly understand what is said, parents will "sort of" have it down.

It is suggested to parents that they disclose early, disclose gently, and disclose with love. As the story unfolds the body of information grows and grows with the ultimate goal of giving the child all the in formation they need to become who they are suppose to be.

One has to remember that to have a child through adoption is not better or worse but just different. However, children don't like being different. They want to be like everyone else. Do not misinterpret a comment such as I don't want to be 'dopted'. This is not a rejection of the parent or the child's adoption but a quest for sameness. In the next breath they might want a red bike like Marcy or a candy bar. Please listen to your child and be careful not to mishear.

During these early years you want your child to think of you as safe. Safe to ask, safe to feel and safe to be. These children are looking at their parents and picking up on the subtleties of their body language. One's ease of discussion will lay the foundation and provide he/she with the appropriate internal resources to tackle what lies ahead. Some preschoolers are more curious others are less so. Tell the truth but do it in the context of love.

Middle or Latency Years   

Parents sometimes develop a false sense of security when their children are young and are thrown off guard when their middle age child starts to ask more, demand more, and voice their own opinions about their adoption. This inquisitiveness has to do with their level of development. Children move from a very ego-centric (or self centered) view of the world to a more encompassing other world view. They can take other perspectives into consideration, and as a result will sometimes want to know more about their birthmother and/or birthfather. Why? and How? What?

The middle years is also the time our sweet innocent children start the process of becoming their own person. Clearly ready to voice and tell you what they think. They may be angry, they may be doubtful about the story that is being conveyed, or may feel cheated that she/he did not grow in their mom's tummy. It is imperative that parents respect and validate their child's feelings, despite the fact they are different from what a parent might wish. Parents must not project their own issues and push their own agenda about how they want their child to feel.

Parents do not have to agree and might wish their children felt differently, but at this time they feel what they feel. Listen, hear them, tell them you understand they wish it was different and perhaps even own up to your own feelings. "I know you wish you grew in me and I wish you did too. But it just didn't happen that way".

The primary responsibility parents have of middle-age school children in regards to their adoption is to allow their feelings to be heard and make sure that these children know that no matter how they feel you still love them and always will.


Emerging adolescents really get it. Their birthmother becomes real and no longer an apparition. Birth parents take on form and meaning as these emerging adults anguish in their struggle to grow into complete individuals. Their preoccupation with their sexual identify makes their unique stories even more powerful.

This is the time they might need the truth. Parents will be forced to face the family' adoption story realistically. If you have done your job up until now nothing can interfere with the bond long established between you and your child.

This is the time children might want to know about their parent's infertility. What they went through, why they choose adoption. They may ask some very personal questions. Old hurts and pains might resurface. Give the information asked for details and all. What is known and what is not known.

Give them the benefit of the doubt as you talk to your teenager about their birth parents. This is the time some children do some grief work on the loses experienced resulting from their birthing circumstances. This will free them to move on. Parents can be there for their adolescent child but it will not necessarily always be easy. Parents can not fix them or eliminate their pain but they can be there as their children struggle through these difficult years.

Each child is different and not all children are as curious as others. We can not predict which children will ask questions and which will not. Some will struggle others will not. This does not reflect on the effectiveness of the parents but is determined by the uniqueness of each and every child.

The commitment to disclose to children about their adoption will provide children with a firm foundation upon which to grow and develop. When we create children we take on an enormous responsibility and we must meet this challenge. By telling children the truth, we are respecting a child's heritage and enhancing their sense of self. We need to respect and cherish our children's beginnings, however, nontraditional they might be. This will be the great legacy parents can give their children.