Telling Your Child that He or She is Adopted
At some point, your child may look in the mirror and conclude that he/she doesn’t look anything like you or your spouse, and come to you with the question “why”? If that happens, you have waited too long to disclose to them that they are adopted. But when is the right time and how do you do it? It’s one of the most challenging issues for adoptive parents.
The Best Advice—Start Early
Most experts agree that it’s best to introduce the topic of adoption at an early age. First of all, this reduces the risk that the child will learn from a friend or family member. In addition, even though they won’t fully understand what it means, it will become their frame of reference, and will have less of an impact as they mature and come to fully understand what it means.
Be Positive about Everyone and Everything Involved
Don’t tell your child that you rescued them from a life of poverty, want, danger or abandonment. Keep the story simple, and portray everyone in a positive light, including birthparents. Make certain that your adopted child knows that they were loved by birthparents, and that they are loved by you.
Portray the adoption as a positive thing. Tell your child how excited you were when they came to live with you, and how happy it made their birthparent that you would be well-cared for.
Use Things That Your Child Understands to Tell the Story
There are a lot of great books about adoption that are specifically designed for adopted children. You can also use other books, videos, their favorite movie or other story. Talk to them about moms and dads, show them early pictures of themselves and pictures of their birthparents, if you have any.
Don’t Just Tell Them Once, But Don’t Beat a Dead Horse
Don’t view it as something that you told them, so you won’t ever have to talk about it again. It may not sink in, so you’ll have to revisit the subject. Do so in an easy way, though, as if it’s not a big deal. If you have a children’s book on adoption, you can read it to the child periodically for a few months. Don’t expect the child to understand with a single discussion.
Be Prepared for Any Type of Response
Your child may have little or no response when you tell them, but have questions later. You’ll have to be very patient and observant. Your child may act out during play, or may ask you over and over to explain the adoption to them. Your child may have any of a range of emotions, from confusion to sadness to anger. You have to let them express their feelings and try to talk about them.
Contact Our Office
To set up an appointment, call us in Haddonfield at 856-429-5005 or in Woodbury at 856-845-2555. We can also be reached in Philadelphia at 215-563-2150 or
by e-mail. For clients with personal injury or workers’ compensation claims, we offer a free initial consultation, and will represent you on a contingency basis, only charging attorney fees if we recover compensation for you.
Our offices are open weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Weekend and evening appointments may be arranged upon request. We will also come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.