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How To Tell Your Children That They Are Adopted- From An Adopted Child's Viewpoint

Updated on February 28, 2012

Adoption is a beautiful situation that can come with many problems. One of these difficulties can be wondering when and how to tell a child that you are not their biological parent. You may be filled with fear and dread when you think about how your child will react. As an adopted child myself, I want to share exactly how my adoption was explained to me and why I have no psychological problems because of it.

No parent is perfect- not me, not my own parents, not even you. But I can confidently say that my adoptive parents did a wonderful job at explaining to me when, how, and why I was given up for adoption.

These are the steps that my parents took to tell me the complete truth without making me feel abandoned, unwanted, or different than other kids.

  1. Never Keep Adoption A Secret: Since before I knew how to talk, my parents told me that I was adopted. Of course, as a baby and young child, they didn't give me too many overwhelming details. One of the best things they said to me was, "We love you, Caroline. We're so glad we adopted you!" This helped me to understand why my adoption was a good thing before I even knew what it was.
  2. Teach Your Child What Exactly Adoption Is: I grew up with a few other friends who were adopted. Unfortunately, most of them did not handle their knowledge of where they came from as well as my younger sister and I did. One confessed to me, "My parents told me I was adopted, but I never knew exactly what it meant. One day, on the bus, somebody told me that my mom and dad weren't my real parents! I demanded an answer from them, and they finally told me that somebody else had given birth to me." From the time I was little, my parents told me what adoption meant- another man and woman had given me away for my parents to raise.
  3. Keep It Age-Appropriate: Of course, when I got into my pre-teen years, more information about my birth parents was explained to me. I found out that they had me very young and wanted to finish school before raising a baby. They felt that I would have a better life with an older, more stable couple. It's important to remember that your child is still a child, and even though you should always help them to understand what adoption is, they don't need to know every gory detail, especially in unpleasant cases such as rape and incest.
  4. Always Keep It Positive: Say something negative once about how you wish you hadn't adopted them, dislike their birth family, etc., and they will remember it forever. Even when my parents were angry at me, they never said anything about regretting their adoption of me. Mention some good things about their birth parents, too, such as how they made a selfless decision by giving you a child. Never say that your child was "gotten rid of", even if the circumstances mean they basically were, such as abandonment.
  5. Don't View Their Birth Family As A Threat: Someday, your child might want to meet his or her birth mother, father, or both. Please don't take offense to this. It's perfectly natural to be curious about your roots. Another acquaintance of mine once told me that she often imagines meeting her birth mother and getting to know her, but she knows her adoptive family wouldn't like it. In circumstances where your child knows their birth family, (open adoption, adoption of relatives, etc.) don't feel like you need to keep them apart. When mad, your child may even say something like, "You aren't my real parents!" It's hard, but try not to take this to heart. Remember that, no matter what kind of relationship develops, you will always be their parents.

I hope the above suggestions will help you to tell your child that you adopted them. Remember, the earlier you start, the better. Some people decide to wait until their child is a certain age to let them know. This almost ALWAYS backfires! Treat your child with the respect that you want them to show you. Let them know how special they are to you and how glad you are to be their parents. Try to find books appropriate for their age level that talk about adoption, and if possible, let them meet other adopted kids. Don't make it into too big of a deal, and don't get too stressed when adoption is mentioned. If you treat the adoption of your child in a calm, cool, happy manner, that's exactly what it will be.


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    • carolinekirby profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Indianapolis, IN

      "Chosen for adoption" is a great way to put it! I'm glad you were a success and that's really cool that your class did that. I've heard people call my little boy a "bastard" too because I'm not married. I hate that because it hurts the kid even more than the parents...

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      6 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Beautiful. I was overly loved as an adopted boy. I have five big brothers and sisters that loved me to death. But truth be told in my view I was not given up for adoption, I was chosen for adoption. Every year thru out my childhood my class would throw a party of my chosen day. The terms, illegitimate and bastard were tossed in my direction, back in my day it was still a stygma. So it was my pleasure to help get rid of that stygma.

    • carolinekirby profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Indianapolis, IN

      Thank you, and I agree! I know there need to be some laws, but I wish adoption was easier so more kids could have good homes.

    • daisyflowrs profile image


      6 years ago from Richmond, VA

      I was adopted when I was little. My parents told me from day one as well. Well, 'they' didn't 'tell' me, they read me a story. The book is called, Why Was I Adopted. I do not recommend this book to inform your child that they are adopted. All I remembered was strange looking people and price tags on kids. Growing up, it just didn't seem right. I recently ordered the book. There they were, strange looking people and price tags on kids. Great hub! I wish adoption wasn't so expensive! Buying a child sounds wrong, especially when so many need families who will love them!

    • carolinekirby profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Indianapolis, IN

      Thanks, I hope it helps him too!

    • authoreshan profile image


      6 years ago from Dhaka

      Useful article..My uncle adopted a baby last year..Hope this article will help him a lot....

    • carolinekirby profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Indianapolis, IN

      Thank you! I'm going to look up that book, I think I might have heard of it but I couldn't remember what it was called. That would be a good one to have.

    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 

      6 years ago from Los Angeles

      Thank you for your wonderful hub! As an adopted child myself, I have known for as long as I can remember. My parents used to read to me The Chosen Baby by Wasson. Fortunately, I always felt like I fit right in with the interests and style of my family. This is not true for all adoptees. I think that the earlier a child is told, the better it is.

    • carolinekirby profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Indianapolis, IN

      Thanks for your comment! That's a really sweet story. I think the key is to make adoption always sound positive. I agree that adoption is a blessing, I have a biological son but I've always wanted to adopt a child later in life.

    • profile image

      Sunnie Day 

      6 years ago

      Great and wonderful hub. I agree..I adopted two babies that are now grown 22 and 25. We always talked about their adoptions like it was this magical thing..a bedtime story..I used to tell my son I asked God for this brown skinned baby with curly hair and he took out his paint brush and painted this beautiful boy and that was you. You did not come from my tummy like ( your older brother and sister which were my older children) But I prayed for you and there you were. As he grew he understood about was natural and easy. I am so blessed to have been able to adopt and wish I could relive it all over again..


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