Early childhood is a time of exploration, and if your young child is especially curious, they may have already begun asking questions related to their adoption. Talking with adopted children about adoption and their birth parents can feel daunting, but it is an absolutely necessary part of creating a healthy adoptive family. To help you take this vital step, below is some advice on how to make this conversation easier for both you and your child.
Start Sooner Rather Than Later
The longer you wait to tell your child that they are adopted, the more likely they are to find it out from someone other than you, which can lead to feelings of confusion, betrayal, and anger. Therefore you should talk with your child about adoption as soon as they are old enough to comprehend what the word means. By making their adoption a “normal” part of their life, you will teach them that it is a good, healthy part of their identity and personal history.
Be Honest but Age-Appropriate
When it comes to discussing adoption with their young children, some adoptive parents don’t know what to say or feel compelled to withhold certain types of information. For example, an adoptive parent may be reluctant to discuss their child’s birth parents for fear of the hurt that might come with it. Although this fear is understandable, it should not prevent adoptive parents from telling their children about their birth parents. Adopted children are almost always curious about their birth parents, and if they are not given honest information on the subject, they may continue to prod and pry until they get the knowledge that they desire.
Therefore, when speaking with your child about their adoption and birth parents, you should be as upfront and honest as possible. Again, it’s best that they get this information from you instead of from someone else who might try using it to hurt them. However, this does not mean that you should disclose harmful or disturbing details to your child. If your child’s birth family had a troubling history, it’s completely acceptable to withhold some of that information until your child is older and better able to cope with it.
Show Compassion and Understanding
Depending on how the conversation with your child goes, you may experience a wide range of emotions, including frustration, hurt, and even anger. These feelings are completely natural, but it is incredibly important that you do not let them taint your child’s perspective on their adoption.
For example, if you display hurt in response to your child’s questions about their birth parents, the child may assume that there’s something wrong with them. While talking about adoption with your child, you should show compassion and understanding towards their thoughts, questions, and emotions. Reassure them that you are excited and grateful about how they came into your life, and demonstrate to them that they are a part of the family. Lastly, after the conversation is over, take some alone time to release and manage your own emotions before carrying on with your day.