How and when do you tell child about their adoption?

When is the right time to tell a child of their adoption? I don't want to wait until she is a teenager because I feel like she will think her life has been based upon lies and I dont think it would be healthy for her, but I wonder exactly how we should tell her and what age is appropriate? We plan to be completly honest with her about her b-parents etc.. and have no problem with her meeting them when she is ready. Do most children from adoptions grow up with identity issues and if so how can I help her if this happens?

Update:

My daughter is 6 months old.. I have had her since birth- I stayed the night with her in the hospital and brought her home the next day..

19 Answers

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Now.

    Make it part of everyday conversation.

    If you make it some big deal - or some taboo subject - your adoptee will think there is something 'wrong' with being adopted.

    It's an adoptee's reality - and should NEVER be kept as a secret.

    Source(s): Me = Aussie adoptee.
  • 1 decade ago

    Tell her from the start. No, she will not be able to have an intellectual understanding of it, but like many things, children can incorporate an emotional understanding of something before the intellectual portion comes into play. Professionals agree that it is best that a child always be told from the beginning if s/he is adopted.

    You are right about the problems of waiting until she is a teenager. You can Google the term "late discovery adoptee" to read about the ramifications that can occur for people who not told until later. But, any waiting risks problems. Children become secure with the knowledge of their origins that they've been led to believe. It is a huge part of their identities. To suddenly have that assumed truth changed can be very, very difficult. A child can feel quite duped, even though that was not the intention.

    Talk about the adoption openly in front of her from the start, and that way she'll always know the truth.

    Source(s): Adopted citizen who always knew.
  • 1 decade ago

    Always talk about it - just the way all children grow up knowing they were born, she will know that she was born and then adopted. Waiting to tell at the right time never works and always backfires. Find some childrens books about adoption i.e. Rosie's Family, Happy Adoption Day, On the Day You Were Born etc (google it or search on Amazon.com) Also make her a Lifebook, to document and recognize her history. Even though she came to you at birth does not mean that she did not have a history before you. Good Luck

    Source(s): Mommy of two amazing kids!
  • 1 decade ago

    Dear Lucky,

    You sound as though you are very interested in doing the best job you can as a parent! Good for you!

    It is almost ALWAYS best to tell children about adoption from the very start. Adoption should be an acknowledged and accepted part of your daughter's life from the get go. If you know her First Parents and they are fit enough to have contact with her as she grows up it is even better.

    Adoption shouldn't be a dirty secret or a surprise when she is "old enough to understand". Honesty and candidness are important- ESPECIALLY with children. They are far more intellegent and perceptive than most people give them credit for! If adoption is always an open and comfortable topic in your family it will be easier on everyone involved but most noteably for your daughter.

    I encourage you to hang around here and also read the blogs of other "triad" members as well as books and web-sites to learn as much as you can about adoption and it's effects of everyone (Adoptees, APs & FPs) in order to be as knowledgeable and prepared as possible for you and your daughter's journey. You seem as though you are interested in being ready to be there for her through anything and that is fantastic!

    Congrats on your new addition and I hope that your journey is a healthy and pleasant one for your family!

    Source(s): Mother of 4, First Mother, Former GAL (Court Appointed Child Advocate)
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  • 1 decade ago

    My 3 year old knows already. We have always been open and honest about it. She can even tell the story of how she came out of her birthmother's tummy and mommy and daddy flew on an airplane to go get her. I have pictures of her birthparents that I let her see. The first time I showed it to her she just stared at her birthmother's picture for a really long time. I have letters that her birthmother has sent to us. I have everything in a notebook. When she is older she can read them. We will be very supportive if she ever wants to find out more about her birthparents and maybe even have communication with them someday. Telling them right from the start is best. Just let her know now. When you talk to her, even at 6 months old, just say we are so glad that we adopted you. Let her know that she is special and you chose to have her join your family. I would never hide it from her, ever. It can be very tramatic for a child to find out later, no matter when it is.

    My mother was also adopted and she grew up knowing the truth. She has said she wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

  • 1 decade ago

    I think that moment will arise naturally when your child starts asking the question "where do babies come from?". As far as I know all children have a natural curiosity into that.

    At least that is my personal experience. When I was five I asked that very question and was told babies grow in their mommie's tummy, upon which I asked/concluded "so I grew in your tummy?". That was the moment my adoptive mother told me about my adoption for the first time. At the time I didn't really comprehend it, but it opened the door to more questions, until years later I understood fully what my adoption was about and how it took place.

    I think all adoptees have to come to terms with their identity at various points in their life and in my experience the most difficult issues only surface during adulthood. Being honest helps, being respectful about the natural parents helps, not down-playing the adoption when being in anger about something helps, not pretending to be the real mother helps, but whatever you do right or wrong all adoptees have grief over the separation and all you can do is respect that.

  • 小黃
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    Tell her ASAP!!!

    Do what the first commenter said: lead into the discussion. How old is your child now? Is she still only a toddler?

    Even if she is, you'd be surprised at what toddlers can understand.

    http://sisterheping.wordpress.com/?s=Truth+as+you+...

    Hopefully that link will help you out - it's the last one down the page. :)

    Caithossie: I respectfully disagree with you. Do you have any idea how that would feel to the child? Imagine growing up and thinking you had only one set of parents, then suddenly Mom and Dad call you to the living room and tell you that you have another set of biological parents? It would be telling the truth, but the child would probably wonder why Mom and Dad hadn't told them sooner. Honesty is the best policy in adoption.

    Children should know as soon as they are able to speak. That doesn't mean Mom should go into the technicalities - just explain about how there was a mom who gave birth and a mom who raised the child.

    Source(s): Taiwanese adoptee... using her experiences to help others.
  • 1 decade ago

    It would be best to let her know as early as possible even if she doesnt understand and explain to her that is she is special and loved and that is why you have her. I was adopted as an infant and have always known about it. The agency told my parents to tell early and often about my adoption. I thank my parents for chosing me and bringing me home and treating me as their own. I have never felt so much love and have respect for them for letting me always know about being adopted. I think it would have been more hurtful for me if I would have found out at a later time in my life. They were honest with me and I respect that as I am sure your daughter will if you are honest with her know about where she has come from and how you chose her to be your daughter.

  • I think the first answer is perfect. tell her when she is 2 or under and keep talking about it so by the time shes a teenager its just a "normal" thing. I dont know if this is a good comparison. But children with same sex parents they grow up in the not "normal" family but its normal for them because they had it all their life. So thats why i think taking about it when the childs very young and all the time after would be the best.

  • 1 decade ago

    I'm an adoptive parent. We adopted two school age siblings from Liberia, so we don't have the same experience as someone who adopted an infant.

    Most adoptees experience feelings related to adoption loss. As an Adoptive parent, the best thing I've found to do is to educate yourself and be attuned to your child.

    As to "when and how" to tell, I believe in always telling the child about adoption. Start with a bedtime story ritual about explaining how the child came to be in the family. It's much better for the child to "always know" rather than have some huge, defining (and always traumatic) moment of truth.

    Also, many infant adoptions have ongoing contact with the child's first mother (to varying degrees). The research is also showing this is very healthy for the child and not "confusing" at all. Children can love two sets of parents. It doesn't need to be an "either/or" situation.

  • 1 decade ago

    From a different perspective - I have known that I was adopted before I knew what the word even meant. I am glad that my parents were so honest with me growing up. It definitely helped the doors of communication stay open later on in life. There was way more trust and I never once felt decieved by them.

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