How to Talk to Your Child about His or Her Adoption Story
At the beginning of every adoption journey, Adoptions With Love asks future adoptive parents the question, “How do you plan on telling your child about his or her adoption story?”
Their answers do not always come easily at first, for this is a question that requires much consideration, attention, education and planning. It is an important question that every adoptive family needs to ask themselves before welcoming a baby into their home.
Adoptive parents often feel anxious at the thought of telling their child about his or her adoption story. When is the right time to talk about it? Who should be the one to bring it up? Some adoptive families fear that the conversation may hurt their child. Others are worried the conversation may hurt the bond they have with their child. While the subject can be intimidating, speaking openly about adoption can actually strengthen the relationship between a child and his or her adoptive parents, and further benefit the child’s overall adoption experience and identity formation.
Today, over 97 percent of adopted children over the age of five know that they were adopted, and 90 percent of these children were reported to have positive feelings about their adoption experience.
If you are planning to adopt a child, how will you tell your child’s adoption story? Learn how to prepare when, what, and how you will tell your beloved child about his or her adoption.
From the minute you welcome your child into your lives, you can begin telling his or her adoption story. It is never too early to start using the word “adoption,” whether it is during a diaper change or a bedtime story. Your baby may not understand what you are saying at first, but this practice can help you gain more comfort with these words as time goes on.
You may choose to collect a few adoption books for young children, to help your child understand and relate to other adoption stories. It is important to begin the adoption conversation early on, so that when the time comes, your child will accept, understand, and be confident in his or her story. Talk about adoption as often as you can throughout every stage of development. Use language that is appropriate for your child’s developmental level.
Continuously touch base with your child, and show that you are always available to answer any questions he or she may have along the way. It is important that you send the message that adoption is a positive, loving way to build a family and that you are happy and proud to discuss the topic.
Simply put, the first thing your little one should know is the fact that he or she was adopted. This conversation should be lovingly approached. Your child should be assured that he or she came from a mommy and daddy like all children do, and that he or she was a special gift to you. Tell your child that adoption helps many families grow, and that children can be raised by birth parents or adoptive parents. Throughout this conversation, make sure your child knows how much he or she is loved.
This is an ongoing conversation that will change as your child grows. You do not have to tell your child all of the details about his or her adoption story at once. It is important to be age appropriate. According to the Center for Adoption Support and Education, your child will only begin to understand adoption after the age of six. It is important to have the groundwork of his or her adoption story laid out before then. You can add the more complex details as your child matures.
As the adoptive family, only you can decide how you will tell your child’s adoption story. If you have an open adoption, you may decide to include the birthmother or father in this process.
You may choose to create a photo book or “Lifebook” to share with your child throughout this ongoing conversation. Whether you have an open, semi-open, or closed adoption plan, Lifebooks are a wonderful way to tell your child’s adoption story. This book can track important dates and events throughout the adoption journey, and include pictures of the people and places involved in your child’s life.
No matter how you decide to share your adoption story with your child, be sure to remain positive and honest every step of the way. By doing so, you can help your child to understand how he or she became a part of your loving family. You can help your child to accept and even grow proud of his or her adoption story. You can teach your child to positively share his or her story with others.