Talking about adoption with children is an intimidating prospect for many parents. So many people fear that what happens in the movies will happen to them if they share their child’s adoption story. But adoption is beautiful and not something that needs to be hidden. Every child has a right to know their story, and you can start the conversation if you follow these simple tips:
1. Start simple. Get out pictures of when you were planning for their arrival and show them how you planned and prayed and hoped for the day they would join your family. Make sure they know how much you wanted them and how much you loved them from the moment you met them.
2. Be prepared. Know what you want to share with them. While you may not want to go into some of the sordid details that often accompany the termination of their biological parents’ rights, you still want to be open about their biological family (if you can). Some key phrases you can use include the following:
- “Your biological parents love you but were unable to care for you, so they loved you enough to find a safe and loving family for you.”
- “Your biological parents made a tough choice to give you a loving and safe home.”
Whatever you say, just make sure that you continue to express how loved they are.
3. Do not speak poorly of their biological family. While there may be some things that you could say about their biological family that is less than favorable, your child does not need to see their family in that way. You don’t have to lie, but be careful with how you portray their parents. You can give them the information they ask for, but don’t call their biological family names or speak of them as though they deserve to be treated badly. Regardless of the choices they have made, they are still human beings, and your children need you to respect them.
4. Be honest. While you certainly need to keep the conversation age-appropriate, be sure to be open and honest when answering any questions that they have. Keeping any information hidden will only make them wonder whether you are ashamed of them or whether there is something wrong with adoption. As the truth comes out (which it eventually will), you will lose the trust of your child.
5. Leave the conversation open-ended. Just like most conversations, the conversation about adoption should be left open and built upon as your child continues to come to you with questions. As they grow, they will certainly start figuring out that there are additional parts to their story, so be ready to answer them clearly and honestly.
The most important thing to remember about talking to your child about adoption is to continually remind them how loved they are and how much they bring to the family. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Your child just wants you to answer their questions honestly.
*If you want some help starting the conversation with your child, my book, Why Did You Choose Me?, is currently on sale on Amazon for just $13.00!