Parents often wonder “when is the best time to tell my child they are adopted?” For that matter, “how do I tell them they are adopted?” Some parents dwell on the question for too long and wait until the child is older, which could cause them to feel a sense of betrayal. So, how do you talk to your child about adoption? The short answer is simple: from day 1.
When to Tell Your Child about Adoption
The best time to talk to your child about adoption is day 1. Some would find this strange because the children may not be old enough to understand you. However, this is the best way to do it. Let them know they are special and that you want nothing but the best for them because you love them. When they become old enough to understand the meaning of it, they already know they are adopted because you have told them countless times in passing. Telling them early on instead of waiting until they become curious about where they came from also keeps them from finding out about it from a family member or friend. Your child should learn this information from you.
Most children become curious about their origins when they become curious about all life – around 5 years old. This would be a good time to give them a more in-depth explanation if your child shows interest in learning more. Even if your child displays little to no interest, but does know that they are adopted, then that’s fine for now. You can wait until later to give them the full details because at some point they will become curious as to the details of their adoption.
How to Tell Your Child about Adoption
From the beginning you should drop hints and direct references where you find appropriate. The most important thing to remember when talking to your child is to tell them with a positive note. It’s a part of them and their heritage – it’s what makes them unique. Some parents use story books about adoption and others may keep a photo album of their child’s life. Both of these options are a great way to let them know about their past.
Here are some other various tips on talking to your child about adoption:
- Let them know how happy you were when you first brought them home.
- When you bring up adoption, be sure to mention that it’s common.
- Explain the reason you adopted them and that their birth parents could not care for them.
- Be prepared for a wide range of emotions. All children are different and react differently.
- Keep in mind the emotions you and your child feel are all completely natural.
- Create a storybook of their life starting from the moment they were born.
- Answer any and all questions your child asks honestly.
- Think about the possible questions your child may have and prepare them for the comments they may receive at school, from family, and from friends. Some may be intending to hurt their feelings, but others may do it on accident.
- Let anyone who is largely involved in your child’s life know their scenario. It doesn’t have to be a life history, but they should be aware that your child is adopted.
- If you have an open adoption, let them know about their birth parents.
You may want to talk to an adoption counselor if the situation becomes emotionally unbearable for you. If you have any questions or are in need of counseling, please contact us at any time at 410-683-2100.