The Topic of Adoption and How To Tell Your Child
The topic of adoption can be a touchy one; especially when it comes to when and how your child should be informed about the matter. Here are some tips and advice on telling your child they’re adopted.
Ultimately, it’s up to the adoptive parent when they will tell their child, although it is recommended they are told as early as possible (approx. 2-4 y/o), at the latest before middle childhood (approx. 9-10 y/o). While it can be extremely anxiety-inducing for the parents, it’s important the kids know about this part of their childhood. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to tell your child. This also raises the chances of them finding out by accident from a relative, friend, or neighbour. It’s highly recommended to introduce the word “adopt” into everyday conversation as early as possible to normalise the subject.
What should you say?
• Keep the explanation short and direct, try not to get too emotional.
• Explain that they were not born to you, but to another parent who was incapable of taking care of them.
• Explain that you and your partner were interested in adopting them, and briefly explain the process of bringing them home.
What shouldn’t you say?
• Don’t criticize the birth parents. The child may take these kinds of comments to heart and believe it’s about them.
• Don’t talk about how lucky your child is to be adopted. Some kids may not understand the concept at first, and feel confused and sad wondering why they were taken away from their biological parents. They are not obligated to feel grateful at this time because they may not understand why they should.
• Don’t say they were given up “out of love.” This may cause the child to think that because you love them, you’ll give them up, too.
• Don’t say that you “chose” them. This may make them = feel as if they were unwanted by anyone else.
Every child responds differently to being told they’re adopted. Usually there is some confusion, sometimes some frustration as some children long for a connection with their biological parents. This is okay. They will have questions, and answer them according to their age and level of maturity – and above all, reassure them that you are a “forever family” and that they are very loved.