The best way to tell a child that they are adopted

Oftentimes, adoptive parents worry about how to tell their child that they are adopted. There will come a time that parents need to this even if it’s hard. Parents should be able to determine when and how to tell their child about the adoption. The child has the right to know where they come from for them to understand who they really are. Telling the child about their adoption may cause anxiety, and it can be a stressful time for both parents and child.

Telling your child that they are adapted doesn’t need to be dramatic. It doesn’t have to be done in a grand gesture. You may think that it can be overwhelming. But it may be easier than you think.

Below are some guides on how to tell a child that they are adopted.

Discuss their adoption story regularly

Therapists recommend talking about adoption story as early as possible. Even if the child is still a toddler, you should start talking about adoption. This can help the child becomes comfortable with the term ”adoption” and it will also become a part of their vocabulary. This way, there will be no specific moment of revelation or telling them that they are adopted. Knowing that they are adopted won’t be a surprise to them.

You just have to keep it simple. For example, before the child reaches the age of 5, they need to know that you adopted them because it’s a way to form a family. It’s essential that you stress it out that you’ll forever be a family.

After 5 years old, especially when the child began to go to school, they’ll begin to question where babies came from. You can simply explain to them that a different man and woman made them. They were formed in a different woman’s belly. Then you came and adapted them, and that’s how you became a family. 

Talking about their adoption story should be an ongoing conversation. You shouldn’t keep it a secret and wait for the child to get older. They will have a hard time believing their adoption was a good thing. So instead of keeping the information, telling them about their adoption story should be done as part of your routine. For example, before you put the child to sleep, you can tell them about how you feel the first time you saw them and how your heart was filled with joy when they became part of your family. You can tell them that it was such a memorable thing. This way, it can be memorable for them too. Making it as a normal conversation will make you both comfortable discussing about the adoption.

When the child began to ask questions about their adoption, answer their questions honestly and make sure that they get a clear response from you. It’s only natural for them to get curious once they know that they are adopted. So they’ll probably ask you about their background; who their parents are, where are they now, why they gave him up for adoption, etc. You have to answer these questions calmly and to the best of your ability. Make sure your answers are appropriate for their age and their level of development. If you know what happened to their parents, you can tell them that you know where they are and that you are sometimes sending them letters and pictures to let them know about the situation of the child. Just be patient even if they ask these questions over and over again. Also, anticipate some questions that they might want to ask but are hesitant to do so because they are afraid they might offend you. Doing this will help the child more comfortable in bringing up questions on their own.

Deal with your child’s emotion

As your child gets older, their feelings and reactions about their adoption may change. They might feel anger, anxiety, sadness, and their emotion might become complicated. Note that this is normal and natural. Adoptive children may feel both positive and negative feelings about their adoption story. All you have to do is be there and be understanding. Give them the time and space they need and encourage them to express their feelings while you listen to them without judgment. Even if you feel that they expressed their sentiment excessively, be supportive and let them know that you understand why they are feeling that way. Just remind them that you love them and you will always be there no matter what. They may feel that their birth parents have rejected them and they’ll feel afraid that you will also do the same. They will begin to wonder if your bonding and all the care and love you showed them are real or not. All you have to do is reassure them that you genuinely love them as your own.

Instead of telling your child that they are special and how lucky they are because they have you, focus on your personal gratitude. Let them know how lucky you are, and thankful for having your child.  Talking to your child about their adoption, especially when they get older can be difficult and emotional. While you need to be calm and confident, it’s also okay to acknowledge your own emotions.

Find outside support

Working with a therapist who specializes in adoption can be of great help. You can work out ways on how to talk to your child about their adoption story. Ask for their advice on when and how to tell your child and how to deal with difficult questions and emotions.

Also, you can join a group of adoptive parents to share your stories with. This can be an excellent opportunity to talk about the challenges and unique ways of dealing with your situation. Other adoptive parents can offer you ideas on how to deal with different kind of situations, especially if your child begins to show negative feelings.