In today’s world, open adoptions are more the norm than the exception. Many adoptive parents allow the birth parents to be involved in the life of the child. This is particularly true when the adoption is made between family members. If your child is adopted and you want him or her to know the truth, when is the right time to go about telling them, and how should you do it?
You may fear that your child will feel unwanted or unloved because they are not a part of you biologically, but if you approach the conversation in the right way, kids come away from it mostly unscathed, recognizing that your love for them has not changed.
Start during preschool years
If you have not used the word adoption with your child before, his or her preschool years are a good time to open the subject. This is the time when kids start asking where babies come from, and the ideal time to discuss the different ways that families can come together. When you approach the topic with your child, using the following guidelines:
- Be honest, direct and simple.
- Explain to your child that he or she was not born to you.
- Teach him or her that you chose to take care of them because the parents he or she was born to were unable to do so.
- Always highlight and emphasize the fact that your family wanted the child, not that you were forced to take him or her because no one else could.
- Explain the process of adoption and what you went through so that you could have him or her in your home.
Your child is likely to have a lot of questions, and there may be a lot of information he or she cannot process this young. Allow questions about whatever he or she would like to discuss, and keep communication lines open even after the conversation ends.
Always take cues from your child. If he or she asks if they came out of your stomach, explain pregnancy and birth in the right context. Teach your child that he or she grew in another stomach and then came to live in your house. Whatever age you tell your kids that they are adopted, you can guarantee that they will have questions in the future, and they should always feel as if they can approach you with them.
Prevent problems before they start
Adoption can be a messy process, particularly when it is between family members or you are adopting from another country. If you want to make sure that all the details are handled correctly and your adopted child is set up for success, speak to an attorney before you start the adoption proceedings.