Telling a Child That She Was Adopted

When and how should we tell our child about her adoption into our family? What's the best and most sensitive way to approach the subject?

A child who was adopted at birth should be told about it from a very early age. This should happen almost as soon as he or she is capable of understanding language. What’s more, it should be a recurring theme in conversations with your child throughout the growing up years.

Unfortunately, some parents avoid bringing the issue up when their kids are young. Why? Because it makes them uncomfortable. Then, as the years go by, they find themselves faced with the task of telling an older child something they’ve been keeping secret. This can undermine the child’s sense of security and may result in feelings of rejection or betrayal.

Naturally, the facts should be revealed and discussed using age-appropriate words and imagery. The adoption should always be presented in a highly positive light. For example, a parent might tell a 2- or 3-year-old that mommy and daddy chose her over all the other children in the world. This will let her know how special she is.

When the child is slightly older – 4 or 5, maybe – you can explain the difference between a biological parent and an adoptive parent. Explain that your child has actually had two different mothers. Her first mommy took care of her when she was very, very tiny, inside of her tummy. Then, after she was born, you brought her home from the hospital to live with you because she was so extra-special.

Many kids express an interest in meeting their birth mother during the teen years. This can often be arranged in the case of open adoptions. It can be a positive experience for the child, but it has to be handled sensitively. It isn’t always a good idea to connect with the birth family.

If you’d like to discuss your situation further, call us. One of our counselors will be happy to take your call. Each is a committed Christian and a licensed therapist.



Before You Were Mine

The Connected Child: Bring Hope and Healing to Your Adoptive Family

The Whole Life Adoption Book

Adoption & Foster Care (resource list)

Fostering or Adopting Children From Difficult Backgrounds (resource list)


TCU’s Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development

Focus on the Family’s® Foster Care and Adoption Program: Wait No More®


Adjusting to Life After an Adoption

The Adoption Journey (includes lists of books, broadcasts, articles and referrals)



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