Talking to Adopted and Biological Children About Adoption

Whether you have an adoption child now, or you are considering adding an adopted child to your existing family, it’s important to know how to discuss the topic with kids. Even well-meaning people can say things that will catch you off guard, and may make your adopted or biological children feel uncomfortable, so talking to your children about adoption early and openly in your home can help prepare them for what they might face out in the world.


Don’t Wait to Have the Conversation


While it might seem like an uncomfortable topic to bring up, it’s best to be proactive and talk to adopted children sooner, rather than waiting until a kid at school, an adult from church, or some stranger at the store brings it up. This is especially true if you have an adopted child that looks different from you or your biological children, but don’t avoid the conversation just because your child looks enough like you that he or she might be able to pass as your birth child. Bringing it up and allowing children to be comfortable with their adoption story can help them get through difficult conversations they may need to have later.


Model Interactions With Your Children


One great way to help kids understand how to handle comments and questions from people outside of your home is to role-play the things that might come up. During these role-plays you can also let your kids know that sometimes it’s okay not to answer a question. If someone asks something you don’t want to discuss, simply saying “I don’t want to discuss that,” or just saying “Yes, this is my brother/sister” is fine, and there is no further explanation required.


Know that the Topic Will Come Up, Often When You Least Expect It


Children who are in school or who interact with other kids will likely have the topic come up more than once, sometimes when you least expect it. Whether it’s an activity in school where children are asked to trace their genetic heritage, or a request by a teacher for a baby picture that you cannot produce, it’s important to let children discuss their feelings, and be supportive if they feel sad, confused, or left out.


Give Your Child Permission to Not Share His or Her Story


While it’s a good idea to make your child comfortable with his or her adoption story, it’s important that you don’t try to force them to share it with others. A child can feel proud of his or her story and roots without being a “poster child” for the topic, which can bring unwanted and undesirable attention.


Adoption conversations are things that you will likely have several times throughout your life, and just because you had it once or your child isn’t bringing it up doesn’t mean that the conversation is done. Children often experience a range of emotions surrounding their adoption throughout their lives, so it’s important to continue to talk about it and provide support.

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