Talking with Adopted Kids about Birth Parents

How can adoptive parents talk with their children about their birth parents? Host Dawn Davenport interviewed Dr. Jennifer Bliss, the National Associate Counseling Director at the Independent Adoption Center, a non-profit domestic infant adoption agency; and Danielle Goodman, Lead Social Worker in the Delaware office of Adoptions from the Heart, a nonprofit domestic infant adoption agency.

Hit the Highlights
  • Many domestic adoptions are open, while most international adoptions and foster care adoptions are closed. How does openness or lack of openness affect how you talk about birthparents?
  • What term should you use when discussing birth parents? Is the term birth mom confusing by introducing at a young age the concept of two mothers?
  • What about the term “Tummy Mummy”?
  • What can a preschooler understand about the concept of birth mother?
  • What age should you start talking about birth parents?
  • How much should you speculate about birth parents when you know very little?
  • How to talk about birth fathers? How to explain the birth father’s role when you don’t want to talk about sex.
  • How to talk about birth fathers when the conception was not consensual (i.e. rape).
  • When should you tell a child some of the “bad things” about their birth parents and poor choices their birth mother and birth father made?
  • Do adoptive parents have to pretend to respect birth parents who behaved poorly?
  • We have a very open adoption with our teen son’s biological mother and maternal relatives. His biological father has chosen to have no contact. How do we handle the questions about why his father chose to discontinue contact?
  • How should an adoptive parent navigate varying levels of openness among siblings (all of whom, or some of whom, were adopted)?
  • What to do when a birth mother or birth father regrets their decision to place for adoption and are sharing this information with the adopted child?
  • Suggested books for talking about birth parents with adopted kids.

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Image Credit: Randen Pederson