Should you tell a child they are adopted?

Should you tell a child that they are adopted?

Absolutely. The answer of whether or not to tell your children that they are adopted is always yes. However, there are other questions. When should you tell them? How should you tell them? How much should you tell them?

Telling children that they are adopted is crucial because it is part of a foundation of building trust with your children through honesty. If you expect your children to be honest with you as they grow up and come to you and share with you even when it’s hard, you have to lay that foundation yourselves.


tell a child they are adopted

Find out more about adoption in the UK here

What happens when you DON’T tell a child they are adopted?

The rules in the UK now make this a pre-requisite but it did not used to be the case so many adults still don’t know. What a long secret to keepĀ  for the adoptive parents.

There are many heart breaking stories of children who found out from other sources and felt betrayed. Not telling your child also communicates to the child that there is some deep dark secret surrounding their adoption or that you are ashamed of how you became a family. Talking to your child about their adoption openly, honestly and comfortably communicates to them that you are proud of how you became a family.

Of course, in order to talk comfortably with your children about their adoption, parents must first be comfortable themselves with all of the aspects surrounding the adoption. Ideally, parents need to sort out these issues themselves before they adopt but if not, it needs to be a priority and an adoption support group can very helpful.


When should you tellĀ  a child they are adopted?

From day one. This may seem silly to tell an infant the story of their adoption but it gives you lots of practice before they can comprehend your words! If a child hears the story from early on, it will be accepted as natural. If you are adopting a toddler, tell the story of their homecoming often.


How should you tell a child they are adopted?

Use an adoption album or scrapbook and talk to them about the pictures. Having lots of children’s books for adopted kids in your library is helpful too. Jamie Lee Curtis’s, Tell Me Again Again When I Was Born is a great one. It will give you an opportunity to tell your child their story and how is was similar or different from their adoption story.


tell a child they are adopted

How much should you tell them?

There are often complicated adult issues surrounding adoption and a child’s cognitive and emotional development has to be taken into consideration. The best way to know how much to tell is to let their questions be your guide. It is a lot like talking to kids about the birds and the bees. Listen carefully to the question and don’t offer more information than they are asking for. Don’t worry, all of the questions will come eventually.

Become comfortable with your child’s adoption story, be open and honest and the one question they will never have is whether or not they are loved so do tell a child they are adopted – it is best for everyone concerned and will help build a strong parent child relationship.

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