Many parents dread having the “adoption talk”. They worry that they will make a mistake; that their child will feel different; that they will somehow burden him with information he does not need to know.
Worry not! “The Talk” is really a series of small seemingly inconsequential talks as your child ages, starting before they even understand the words and continuing until they are adults sharing these 10 basic facts.
- Adoption is normal. Families are formed in different ways and all ways are great.
- All children are born to a mommy and daddy. Adopted kids need to know that they grew in their birth mom’s tummy (uterus) just like other kids grew in their mom’s tummy.
- Nothing they did caused their birth parents to place them for adoption. Adoptive parents have to explain what they know about why the child was adopted. They may know the exact reason or they may have a general idea that they can share. (In an open adoption, birth parents can also share.) Example:
- Suzy and John (birth parents) were not ready to parent any baby when you were born.
- We think your birth parents were very very poor and knew that they couldn’t give you what you needed.
- Their adoptive parents wanted them very much and were very happy when they came.
- Adoption is forever.
- Their adoptive parents will have enough respect and compassion to not talk disrespectfully about their birth family.
- Their adoptive parents are always open to their questions and to help them get more information.
- It’s OK to have mixed emotions about being adopted.
- It’s OK to love both their adopted family and birth family.
- Their adoptive parents will tell them their full adoption story and not keep secrets from them about their adoption. Family secrets are destructive. Lay the groundwork for the full story during the younger year and aim to have shared the full story no later than around age 12.
One of the best ways to begin “The Talk” is to start reading adoption books to your child starting when she is a baby. We have a list of The Best of the Best Adoption Books for Kids, broken out by type of adoption and age of the child.
What would you add to the list?Image credit: Ross Griff
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Thanks for this list Dawn. It’s a great resource. Recently I have been questioning #5 – adoption is forever. My father died when I was 11 and it has shaped my life experience and thinking that nothing is forever and nobody can know when their time may come. For children who have lost their birth families, not those in open adoptions, I feel that saying adoption is forever is like promising something that they know cannot be guaranteed. There need to be better ways of expressing that t’s is a permanent solution.
Louise, I see you point that none of us know what the future may bring, but this would be the case regardless of whether your child is born to you or adopted by you.