Talking about adoption with your child is something every adoptive parent has to do, and something most of them dread doing. It can seem like having that talk is a burden which can cause you to be nervous or make the child feel unwanted or rejected if handled improperly. But your child is going to want to know where they came from and why your family is different than others. That is why you need to prepare and make sure talking about adoption with your kid is not too much. Here are some tips on how to handle the talk at various child ages.
Small children (1-4 years old)
This is the best time to start telling the adoption story to your kid. Since children at this age are extremely self-involved, they will love hearing a story that is all about them. In their adoption story, they are the center of attention, but the reality of adoption does not sink in at this young age.
These are the things you can hope to achieve at this age:
– Let them know they were born just like every other child
– They didn’t grow inside your belly, but inside some other woman
– That woman wasn’t ready to be a mommy, but you wanted it very much. You adopted them and they will be your child forever.
Middle childhood (5-11 years old)
At this age, children understand that most kids are born into their families, and that their story is different. They understand the concept of adoption and the concept of having two separate sets of parents. At this age, children can also begin feeling uncertainty about themselves and feelings of being different. This is the age when they are being bombarding parents with questions, the most common one being “Why?”. Commonly they wonder why their birthparents didn’t find a job if they didn’t have money to raise them, why their birth mom didn’t get married if she didn’t want to take care of them alone, why didn’t she find someone to teach her to be a mommy if she didn’t know how to, etc.
The most important thing in this stage is communication. Be open with your child and answer their questions. Let them know that it is okay to feel sad about adoption, and that both happiness and sadness are a part of the story.
Teenagers (12-18 years old)
In their adolescent years, children start forming their own identity and distancing themselves from their parents. This is natural, but despite that, it can still cause problems. If kids don’t have information on their background, it can be frustrating and stressful. What you need to do in this stage is allow them their freedom and the space to become individuals. Keep lines of communication open but don’t press them to use them if they are uncomfortable.
These are just some tips on talking about adoption with your child. Remember that there is no one way to talk to your kids – the most important thing is to listen to them and be available if they need help or guidance.