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How to Tell My Child They’re Adopted

Secrets suggest there is something to hide.

Why would you hide adoption from your child?

Therefore, when people ask, “How do I tell my child they’re adopted?” we respond.

You tell them about the joy of finding them as a child. You tell them this young, even before a child understands the language.

Adoption should be celebrated. The love you had for this child. The joy you had finding this child. The love you feel for their birth parents—even if the birth parents aren’t always lovable.

Your child needs to know that being adopted isn’t something to hide. There is nothing secretive.

Start Early, Start Young

The key here is to start the conversation early. This way, your child grows up understanding that adoption is a totally normal and loving way to build a family. You can kick things off by reading age-appropriate books about adoption together, like “Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born” by Jamie Lee Curtis or “A Mother for Choco” by Keiko Kasza.

Reveal the Details Gradually

As your child gets older, you can gradually share more details about their adoption story. The important thing is to be honest and open but also to keep the information age appropriate. For example, when your child reaches around five or six years old, you might say something like, “We really wanted to have a baby, but we couldn’t grow one in Mommy’s tummy. So, we asked for some help, and that’s when we found out about you. We were over the moon excited to bring you home and become your forever family.”

Highlight Love and Choice

It’s crucial to emphasize to your child that adoption is a choice made out of love and that they are a treasured member of your family. Make it clear that being adopted doesn’t make them any less loved or important. You can say things like, “We picked you because we knew deep down that you were meant to be our child. We love you more than words can say.”

Be Prepared for Questions and Emotions

When it comes to telling your child they’re adopted, expect them to have lots of questions and a range of emotions. They might want to know about their birth parents, why they were put up for adoption, or what being adopted means for their identity. It’s okay if you don’t have all the answers, but make sure to validate their feelings and let them know you’ll always be there to support them.

For example, if your child asks about their birth parents, you could say something like, “Your birth parents loved you very much, but they weren’t able to take care of you the way they wanted to. They made the tough decision to place you for adoption because they wanted you to have a loving family that could provide everything you need.”

Keep the Conversation Going

Remember, this conversation about adoption isn’t a one-and-done deal. It’s an ongoing dialogue that will evolve as your child grows and matures. Stay open to revisiting the topic whenever your child has questions or wants to talk about their feelings.

At Heart to Heart Adoptions we encourage our families to use the OurHeartsConnect app. This is a computer app that is monitored. Adoptive and birth families can share messages, pictures, and videos. This way they can safely be involved in one another’s lives. When it is age appropriate children can see these messages and videos. 

You will never have to ask “How do I tell my child they’re adopted?” Children will never have to think there is something about them that needs to be secretive.