Talking with your child about their birth family can bring up a lot of emotions, and if it was a domestic adoption then there is a greater chance of your child being able to forge a relationship with their birth family. It is important that you respect your child’s wishes, and if they want to talk with you about their birth family then you should do so honestly.
Here are some tips for best practices when talking to your child about their birth family:
Talk About Your Child’s Adoption Early On
If you talk openly about your child’s adoption from the beginning, it avoids any potential feelings of distrust and betrayal if revealed to them later. In addition, it increases your child’s chances of viewing their adoption as something relatively normal and maybe even positive.
Always Be Honest About Details, Even Negative Ones
Some adoption stories have painful and negative details that may feel difficult to discuss, but your child has a right to their full story. It is important to remember that your child can find those details from somewhere else later, so it is better if you are honest with them from the beginning. The best way to navigate these negative details is to constantly remind your child that they are loved, they did nothing wrong, and they were not rejected by their birth parents. While it may feel hard to be honest, it is much better than lying to your child. This includes admitting if you do not know the answer to a question rather than trying to make something up.
Give Your Child Information that is Age-Appropriate
While it is important for you to consider talking about your child’s adoption early on in their life and to be completely honest about the details, you should not share everything all at once. You should consider the age-appropriateness of various details surrounding their adoption. Some topics that should be considered before being discussed include the circumstances of your child’s conception and why they might have been placed for adoption in the first place. A young child does not need to know any details they may not be able to understand or that could negatively impact their perspective of their birth family.
Accept, Validate, and Respect Your Child’s Emotional Reactions
It can be extremely difficult for adoptive parents to talk about their child’s birth parents because it can bring up a lot of worries and emotions. It is important that you allow your child to feel all of their emotions and do not make them feel like their reactions are unacceptable. The best thing you can do is make sure your child feels loved and heard by you.
Keep Yourself Available and Open to Communication
Your child is going to constantly have new questions about their birth family. You need to make sure they know they can come to you with these questions at any time without worrying they will hurt or upset you.