When is is the best time to tell your child they were adopted? How should you start?
Some people in our family think I am crazy, but I talk to Baby B about her adoption and birth mom almost everyday.
I want it to be a normal part of our conversation and something we talk about, so as she grows, she will always feel comfortable asking questions.
We don’t shy away from where she came from or how her life began, but instead, celebrate that part of who she is.
There are a few things that we should keep in mind as we talk to our kids about their adoption story.
1. start now
Whether your child is two days old or ten years old, now is the time to talk them about their adoption. The sooner the better.
We have been talking to Baby B about adoption since day one. Even though she is only 6 months old, it’s something we want her to hear us talk about often.
This article from Psychology Today includes a phrase that sums up this perfectly.
“Parents don’t wait until children understand the words ‘I love you’ to start telling them, and the same goes for their child’s adoption story.”
Children should (ideally) be young enough to not remember being told they are adopted.
2. keep it age appropriate
Second to talking about adoption as early as possible, make sure you keep it age appropriate.
When they are young, you may start by reading children’s books about adoption.
As your child grows, they will ask more questions about their adoption and you will share more details. They will let you know when it is time to share more and it’s best to be open and honest.
Nothing about their adoption or family history should be kept a secret, but just may be shared with them at different ages.
3. make it personal
You can find many great children’s books about adoption, but no story is going to be exactly like your child’s. Find a way to share their specific story with them.
I created a book called “The Story of You” for Baby B. It is only pictures, but shows everything from when we got the call that she was on the way, to bringing her home.
It includes pictures from the hospital of her with her birth mom. We look at the book often and use the pictures to talk about her adoption.
You can create a photo book on any of the photo sites, but I used Google Photo Books and loved how it turned out. I decided not to include text, that way we can continue to add information to her story as she gets older.
4. talk about their birth parents
Keep communication about their birth parents open. Talk about them too in a positive way.
Do not criticize them or keep them out of the adoption story all together. They are the reason your child is here and should be spoken about with respect.
One of my previous students was adopted and when she learned my husband and I planed to adopt, she would talk to me about it.
Once, she said she often felt weird asking her parents about her birth mom because she didn’t want to hurt their feelings.
If we as adoptive parents talk about the birth family often, we will keep the communication open and allow our children to feel comfortable asking whatever questions they want.
5. Don't focus on how lucky or special your child is
This article from Psych Central makes an excellent point about this topic.
When people say to us how lucky Baby B is, we always respond that we are the lucky ones to have been chosen to be her parents.
By speaking about adoption in a way that makes your child feel as though they are lucky, later on it may cause them to feel as though they should be grateful to their adoptive parents. We don’t want this.
And you don’t want your child to feel as though you only love them or want them because they are special. This may cause them to feel as though they have to meet certain expectations to continue to be special.
Just let your child be who they are without any sort of expectations (even though they may be said harmlessly).
As you begin to have conversations about adoption with your child, the most important thing is to be honest. Secrets and lies make it seem like something is wrong or bad, and it’s not.
If you haven’t talked to your child about their adoption yet, today is the day to start.