Talking to Your Child About Their Birth Family
Tips for Talking to Your Child About Their Adoption
Not all children join their forever families as infants, and even if they do, adoptive parents struggle to find the right way to navigate the topic of adoption with them as they grow older.
Whether you’re considering adoption or have just recently added a loving child to your family, here are some tips to think about.
Am I Okay With an Open Adoption?
Opening your heart and your home to a child is one of the best gifts anyone can give.
If you’re eager to bring a child into your family, it's important to prepare yourself for this process to ensure you're ready — and that includes asking yourself some important questions.
As most prospective adoptive parents know, adoptions can either be open or closed. Open adoption means that there may be some contact between the biological parents and your child, while a closed adoption means that there is no contact between the parents and your child once the adoption is finalized. Most adoptions in the United States tend to be open adoptions nowadays, so it’s important to prepare for those conversations now.
Should I Tell My Child They’re Adopted?
Family sitcoms and movies have taught us that there tends to be a jaw-dropping moment when your child figures out that they’re adopted. This can lead to confused and angry feelings later in life — which isn’t the best way to handle the situation.
Instead, the best course of action would be to tell your child from the beginning and make it part of their personal history. Introducing the idea of adoption as early as possible will make the idea feel as natural as possible.
How to Approach the Conversation
Whether your child comes to you first or you choose to sit them down and explain everything to them, it’s important to think about what you’re going to say — as well as some of the questions they may have.
Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Use Adoption Terms Early On
Even if your child can’t yet understand what you’re saying, using adoption-focused terms throughout their life will naturally help your child become more familiar with the concept. It will also help your child develop positive associations with the vocabulary you use.
If your child is from a different region or country of origin, using adoption terms may also mean acclimating your family celebrations to your child’s culture or heritage when it comes to holidays and festivities.
2. Read Books About Adoption With Them
Much like explaining the birds and the bees to children, there’s always an appropriate way to talk to your child about adoption — but maybe you don’t know the right words. Reading books with your child about adoption can help them understand the situation from another source.
3. Tell the Truth in an Age-Appropriate Manner
Eventually, your child deserves to know the details about their birth family and adoption, no matter how painful it may be. However, those details do not need to enter the equation when your child is very young.
Talking to your co-parent about how to navigate this topic ahead of time will help you avoid painting a negative picture of your child’s birth parents.
4. Let Your Child Own Their Story
At the end of the day, it’s their story to know and their story to have feelings on. Even if you supply them with all the information you have, they may feel they want to learn who their birth parents are and where they come from. If you had an open adoption, they may even want to reach out to find their birth parents on their own.
As their parent, it’s important for you to support them in their decision, even if you just want to protect them from harm. Keeping your child from understanding where they come from could lead them down the wrong path later in life.
5. Keep Your Channels of Communication Open
Adoption is a life-long journey; even if your child doesn’t have questions for you initially, they may down the road. So, it’s important to let your child know that they can always come to you with questions, concerns, or any emotions they may feel.
6. Reach Out for Support
If you feel that you need additional assistance to help drive the conversation in the right direction, it’s always a good idea to reach out to your adoption agent for help and guidance. Also, if your adoption was disputed legally in any way, you may want to contact your attorney for additional information or insight.
Honolulu Adoption Attorneys
At Sturdivant & Associates, LLLC, we are passionate about helping families during the most important and challenging times in their lives. We always strive to have a well-rounded understanding of every case that comes to us so we can approach the problem fully and ensure the most favorable outcome possible.
If you need legal assistance with your adoption, contact our firm today at (808) 201-3898 to schedule a free initial consultation! We are looking forward to providing you with our dedicated legal services.