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How to Tell Your Child She's Adopted

Saying the Right Thing

When your child asks about his adoption, be honest, but don't think that you have to explain everything at once. It's fine to wait until he's older to tell him more, especially if you think the truth might confuse or hurt him (which could be the case if he was abandoned). Just don't say anything untrue, because you may have to contradict it later.

Emphasize that there's nothing wrong with him. Explain that he was given up for adoption because his biological parents were unable to care for a baby at that time.

Stress that adoption is permanent, so your child won't worry that you'll give him up someday, too.

Talk about your child's birth mother and father. Otherwise, he might conclude that his adoptive father is his birth father.

Encourage your child to discuss his emotions.

Tell a child that she was given up "out of love." She may worry that if you love her, you'll give her up, too.

Say that you "chose" her. In order to be chosen by you, she might conclude that she was unwanted by someone else.

Denigrate the birth mother or father. They have a real connection with your child.

Expect her to come to terms with her adoption immediately. Many kids surprise parents with emotional reactions at age 7 or 8.