When to tell your Child They’re Adopted

Telling your child he or she is adopted can be difficult. It should be noted that there two schools of thought on the subject. Some experts advise telling a child early on so they become comfortable with the knowledge. Others think that the concept of adoption is too complex for a young child and parents should wait until they’re old enough to understand the meaning. Both sides do agree that the subject should be handled by the adoptive parents. It will help bring reassurance that it was a good thing for all parities involved. Hearing the news from an outside source may jar a child’s confidence in their parents.

Parents should be in a mentally good place before speaking with their child. Sometimes people feel inadequate or somehow guilty about failing to conceive. It’s important not to convey these feelings to the youngster. These emotions are understandable but welcoming a child into your heart and home is a positive decision. If you or your partner have lingering pain take steps to resolve your issues before speaking to your child. .

Those who advocate telling a young child about adoption advise the best time is between the ages of six and eight. By this time a youngster has developed a sense of self and how they fit into the family. There are story books that explain the adoption process in a child friendly manner. Parents may want to explain things to a child from a different racial heritage or who looks significantly different than other family members around the age of four or five. Children do understand that there is a difference between themselves and others although they may not express it in words.

Explaining to a racially different child that you wanted them to be in your family and that they are loved and valued should help reassure them that they are there to stay.  Children understand more than they are capable of verbally expressing. So you can tell them they have a rich heritage and as they grow older they’ll learn more about their genetic roots. When the subject is first explored it’s important to reassure them of their importance and stability within the family unit.

It will help to teach them the order of things – they were born first and later adopted. Answer questions as straight forward and honestly as possible. The difficulty of the conversation varies with the circumstances but it’s best to be forth coming. When they come of age they will have the choice whether or not to seek out their biological parents. Usually it’s easier on all parties when the adoptive parents have been open and honest about the adoption.

Older children are often upset when told that they’re adopted. But they do have the right to know of their origins. It may surprise adults but youngsters often have a sense that they are different in some way from other family members even when it’s not visibly apparent. It’s important to allow them to express their feelings both positive and negative.  Young people struggle, to varying degrees, with finding their own identity. This is the argument against waiting until a child is older to tell them they’re adopted. Although they may understand the concept it can further confuse their search for self. 

The love and security you give your child will help them through learning that they have different biological parents. Sometimes it’s a bumpy road but most children realize the joy they’ve brought to their adoptive family and that they are permanent member of the family unit. Circumstances vary but curiosity about natural parents is normal. In many cases older children who seek out contact come away feeling reassured the decision to give them up was for their own well being. Whatever the outcome a secure and loving adoptive family will help them grow into happy and productive adults.