Pre-school age children do not yet have the capacity to understand adoption. However, there are several very important reasons for introducing the subject at this age:
- From the beginning, adoption should be a household word and subject that is discussed comfortably in the home.
- Talking openly about adoption aids in the adoptive parents’ comfort level with this topic.
- The child will have a positive association with the word adoption, even though he/she does not grasp its full meaning.
- The child will understand that the word adoption applies to him/her, even if he/she cannot pronounce it correctly. For example, “I adopted.”
- This openness lays the groundwork for positive self-esteem connected with the word adoption, which, in turn, facilitates understanding in the school age years.
One of the parents’ tasks in the pre school years is to create an atmosphere that gives their child permission to ask questions about adoption. If they talk about the subject periodically and seem comfortable talking about birthparents, the child will realize that it is OK for him/her to ask questions and verbalize curiosities.
We encourage parents of pre-school children to discuss adoption in a simple manner. It helps to remember that he/she needs concrete information at this age because he/she cannot grasp abstract concepts. Parents can share photos of the birthparents so the child has something specific to connect to the word ”birthparents.” Or if there are visits, the child will see the birthparents as a concrete reality in his/her life, similar to other caring relatives who come to visit.