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Talking To Your Child About Their Adoption Story

The importance of talking to your child about their adoption story is widely understood. By keeping this open conversation, it allows your child to develop their self-identity and learn how to own and tell their adoption story. Talking to your children about being adopted should not be taken lightly, but it can be challenging to distill the complexity of the situation to your child in a way that they understand. Everyone’s adoption stories are different, and different details are appropriate for different ages.

Here are some tips for how to have a fruitful conversation with your child. 

Start talking about adoption as soon as you become a family. While some people might not understand why someone would start talking about adoption as soon as they bring their infant child home, it’s essential. Talking about adoption is more than just having a conversation with your child—it’s a full-scale shift in how you open up and communicate at home. By starting the conversation about adoption, you’re letting everyone (friends, family, neighbors, etc.) know that this is your story. This also helps eliminate your child from having a “moment” where they learn they are adopted. It’s a welcomed and openly discussed part of their identity from the very beginning. 

Understand that the adoption story may evolve as your child grows older. It’s important to help your child grow with and into their adoption story as they age and develop, but remember that some details may not be age-appropriate. Some of your child’s questions may not have answers that are appropriate for them at that age. That’s okay. If you are struggling with a less than positive birth family story, keep it simple. Don’t lie or mislead them; just wait to share more until your child is old enough to understand.  Parents.com put together an excellent timeline of how to talk to your children about adoption at each stage of their life. 

Express excitement and gratitude for your child and their birth family. One way to talk about your child’s birth family is with excitement and appreciation. If nothing else, explain to your child the selflessness of their birth parent’s decision, and their hope that they would have the best possible life. Remaining gracious and respectful of the birth family is a part of maintaining a positive adoption culture in your home. 

Everyone’s conversation with their child will be different, but remember to be open and honest. The more your child trusts you, the more comfortable and positive these conversations will be.