Adopted: When and How to Tell Your Child

Recently I had a conversation with a friend.  Her oldest child was adopted as a baby by her husband and would soon celebrate a birthday.  She wondered when she should let her child know about the adoption.

As a natural problem solver (that rarely actually solves any problems) I quickly jumped in and suggested she wait till the child was an adult.

Now, calm down.  A quick Google search revealed that advice is the exact opposite of helpful.  In other words, I quickly learned that is the absolute wrong thing to do.

Advice from the on-line world recommended telling the child as early as possible.

Curious about the subject I thought I’d put it out there to learn more.  Anyone have experience with this subject?  When is a good age to learn your origin story?  How should it be done?

Open to advice here so that I can pass it along.

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One thought on “Adopted: When and How to Tell Your Child

  1. Before you’re old enough to understand, but that’s past now for your friend. You tell a short story of how the adoption happened, mine was 4 or 5 sentences – the core story. I recommend practicing telling it in the mirror or to a friend until it flows naturally when you haven’t always told them their story. The longer they wait, the less likely they’ll tell and child will find out after they pass or at a family picnic – not the right way. Tell the story, wait for questions, answer honestly, expect more questions after they process for awhile.

    Over the years you can add details to the story as questions arise, you educate them about societal views, reasons why something may happen a certain way (don’t give reasons unless you know it’s fact, offer reasons why it may have happened). You also need to educate yourself on how some process being adopted (in this case step-parent adoption). There may be challenges with big feelings over why the child’s father didn’t want them (assuming the father) or left. Wanting to know their other parent is normal and good.

    Not telling early and bringing it up from time to time can tell the child there’s something shameful in being adopted. There isn’t, being adopted is just different, not better, not worse, just different.

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