Over the last several years I’ve met a couple of parents, both online and off, that are waiting for that “right time” to tell their children they were adopted. (Luckily this is not the norm. For most parents, adoption is a topic that is shared and spoken about throughout a childs life.)
I adopted my children at an older age, so they came home knowing they were adopted. But I’ve always been intrigued by parents who adopt infants and don’t grow their child up knowing they were adopted.
These parents will say that they’re child is to young to handle it and they’ll tell them when their older. They want their child to be mature enough to understand adoption. Don’t they think they’re sending the message that adopting is so inferior to having biological children that they had to wait until they were older to tell them? What wrong with growing up adopted? What’s not to handle? Do they think the child is just going to accept that they had been keeping a “secret” all these years? Or is it just that the parents were uncomfortable telling them and are using this as an excuse?
Talking about adoption early in a childs life, provides them the opportunity to accept and integrate the concept of being adopted into their lives at a slower pace. You may not have this opportunity later on, when your child may also have additional issues of why you didn’t trust them with this information sooner. Most research suggests that a child who is adopted will benefit from knowing early on that they were adopted. As they get older and are able to understand more and more, the parents can explain more and more of the details. Discussing and explaining adoption to your child should not be a one time conversation, rather on ongoing part of what you naturally discuss as a family.
Here’s what our adoption forum members had to say about this topic.
It just comes up in conversation. It isn’t something that gets worked in. Example. I have a picture of my mom holding my son at his adoption hearing. He asked me the other day who my mommy was. I showed him the picture and said this is my mommy she is in heaven watching you. I asked if he knew who the baby was and he said “me” I said right she was holding you after your adoption hearing. I told him how much she loved him from the minute we got the call he was going to be our baby. For us it is just a matter of fact. He can tell you he was adopted and grew in my heart – not my tummy. We have no contact with his birth mom so I am not sure how much of the concept he gets of everything. We talk about his “Angel” (his birth mom’s name) who loved him. We choose not to make a big deal about it. When he asks we answer but it isn’t something we just brought up one day it is something that has been an ongoing periodic conversation from the time he came home from the hospital.
Jamie Lee Curtis’ book “Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born” is very helpful in introducing adoption concepts to a very young child.
We read her books and sometimes we just work it into the conversation. She is BEGGING for a sister and tells me to call her birth mother to see if she has anymore. So we explain over and over how it works.
Before my girls were even able to talk, we showed them pictures of our adoption trip, and told their story in basic terms, that has become more detailed as their understanding grows. From the time they were infants, we would always get asked questions by strangers out in public, so we have always tried to be as open and welcoming as possible to give the girls the impression that this is something we are comfortable with, proud of, and willing to talk about. The fact of their adoption is obvious, and we’ve always treated it matter of factly.
How do/will you handle talking to your children about adoption?
adoptees, parents of adopted children