When and How to Tell a Child They Were Adopted

Around 135,000 children are adopted in the United States every year. For adoptive parents, talking about this subject can be a huge source of stress. There are likely a million questions running through your head if you are considering how and when to start discussing adoption.

Although, it doesn’t have to be so scary. It’s important to embrace adoption as a part of your story and journey. Read on to find out more on when and how to tell your kid they are an adopted child!

When Should You Tell Kids They’re Adopted?

Society has held onto this idea for a long time that we should keep the adoption a secret or that it should not be talked about. However, we’ve turned this subject into something seemingly taboo which is actually incredibly normal.

Should you start young or should you wait until they are a bit older?

Starting Young

Recent studies have shown that when you start discussing adoption at a younger age, you are actually helping your child more than you can imagine. It might be hard for them to understand depending on when you start talking about it.

There are several developmental stages that a child needs to go through before they can grasp the full meaning of what adopting a child actually is. A huge benefit of telling them at a young age is maintaining the ability to shape their view on what adoption means.

If you are concerned that this will cause a crack in your relationship, you have little to fear. Children at young aged form attachments to their primary caregivers, no matter who they are when it comes down to biological relations. They will grow up with an appreciation for what you have done and how you love them.

In addition, they will accept their story from the beginning. Their identity has the chance to form in a way that allows them to accept themselves.

Waiting Until Their Older

If you choose to wait until your child is older, you may run the risk of throwing something unexpected onto them. They might feel as if they have been lied to or misled. When a child has a better understanding, they may struggle with the idea that they had no control over what happened to them.

Many experts recommend that you begin talking honestly and openly about the adoption from the beginning to avoid these types of reactions. When adoption is a part of their story from the start, they grow into their journey rather than get thrown into it. They may have feelings of rejection and form extreme insecurities.

How to Tell a Child They’re Adopted

There are lots of different strategies that you can use when you tell kids they’re adopted. You may approach differently based on what age you have told them or begun to discuss it. Remember that it is important to be open and honest with them and start discussing it as soon as possible.

Strategies For Starting Young

As previously mentioned, it has been proven that when raising adopted children, it is better to start talking bout it at a young age. To begin doing this, you should start using adoption terms immediately. From the moment they enter your home, you need to implement this language to make it clear that it is okay to talk about.

Once you’ve created a comfortable environment you can start using other strategies for your child to understand.

Adoption Themed Books

Kids love a good story-time. There are many adoption-themed books you can incorporate into your routine. These books further make the topic more comfortable and offer a way to start a conversation or open up the floor for questions.

Furthermore, it’s a good idea to tell them their story over and over again. They may ask you to do so. You should oblige these requests. Kids enjoy hearing stories about themselves and will use this as a key to understanding themselves.

Using Positive Language

Any time that you discuss adoption, you should talk about it positively. We have the ability to shape our kids’ perceptions. They may encounter negative perceptions about adoption as they grow older. It’s vital that you reassure them so that they can be confident in their identity.

Open Communication

Your child’s interest in adoption will go up and down over the course of their life. Even when they seem disinterested, be sure that you let them know you are always there to discuss it. Never force a child to talk about it.

Stay Honest

There may be some complicated aspects of your child’s adoption story. While some of the details are not age-appropriate, you should avoid telling them lies. As they age, they may ask more questions which you can decide on what to divulge at that time. Remember to always stay positive.

Strategies For Older Children

If you chose not to tell your child at a young age, then you have a much more complex situation on your hands. You should tell your child as soon as possible. It is better to get it over with so that they can start accepting their story.

Professional Support

For older children, there are many different struggles they can face when they are shocked by such news. If they are having a really hard time, you might consider having them talk to an expert. Professional support is never a bad idea. In fact, they may feel more comfortable with it if they are feeling as if you have wronged them.

Explain Why You Waited

It may be beneficial for your adopted child to know why you waited to tell them. At a certain age, they will understand that you were trying to protect them. You might also consider apologizing for not telling them sooner.

Continue to Use Positive Language

It is just as important to use positive language with older children. Unfortunately, they have already had a chance to learn about other’s negative perceptions. Therefore, you need to make it clear that this is a positive situation instead of a negative one.

Informing Your Adopted Child

Remember that it is best to inform your adopted child from the start about their story. They will thank you later for being honest with them. This should not be a scary topic that we hide from our children.

Are you looking to adopt? Contact us today to get more information!

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