Talking to Children About Adoption – Part 1 of 4

It’s a good idea to think about talking to your child about their adoption story before they begin asking questions. If you begin using positive adoption language from the very beginning, they will learn it too and there won’t be anything “odd” or “uncomfortable” about it. Children learn the words that they hear and they will learn the appropriate adoption terms from you the same way they will learn to say “milk” or “up”. Infants don’t understand when you tell them “I love you!” but you say it anyway and they learn that the words you are saying are happy words because you are smiling and cuddling or giving hugs and kisses as you say those words. The same will be true when you talk about their adoption story.

Children are very literal thinkers, so it’s best to create concrete examples of their adoption story so they can understand it better. Think about taking photos throughout your journey-outside the adoption agency during your first visit there, when you meet with a potential birthmother, etc. That way you can scrapbook your journey and share with your child. Seeing photos and reading words with you will make it more real and easier for them to understand. You can also blog about it or keep another type of journal and read it together. Keep a photo of the birthparents and/or birthfamily on the mantle. Buy children’s books to keep on your child’s bookshelf about adoption. It doesn’t have to turn into reading a story about adoption, but simply, reading a story. This is really going to normalize their experience and help them understand that families are created in many different ways. There are exceptional children’s books on adoption, single parent families, same sex partner families, stepfamilies, children raised by grandparents, etc. All families are made in their own way; adoption was just the way yours was made.

To be continued…

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  • Lynn Haag

    We were very open with using words “adoption” and “birthparents” from the time our daughter was born and we loved the book “Tell Me About The Night I Was Born” (by Jamie Lee Curtis). When our daughter was about 3 she started asking more questions about her birth, if she came out of my tummy, etc so we read the book many more times and she seemed to have a better understanding. She’s now 5 years old and at random times a few questions will come up but we’re always very open and try to keep it simple.

  • Hello Lynn, I am an author of a book called The Best For You that explains adoption to children from a birth mother’s point of view. I have received many wonderful reviews and have been told that my book has helped parents talk honestly to their children about their beginnings. I hope you do not mind me contacting you, but I wrote this book to help kids, and adults alike, understand a little better what goes into the decision to place a child for adoption.

    Please let me know if you have any quesitons, I am a very open advocate for adoption with an incredibly positive voice.

    Kelsey Stewart,
    Author of The Best For You

  • I agree Lynn keeping it simple and age appropriate has worked for us so far. Our little guy has just turned three and he knows that he didn’t grow in my tummy but in A’s. I wrote him a story book too that uses photos from our lives and visits with his birthfamily. Eoin loves to read it and it helps us talk about our family.

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