When should you tell your child their adoption story?⠀⠀⠀
Adoption is something you should be speaking about openly in your home from the very first day you meet your child. It should be a story you tell them from day one. You will stumble at first and maybe say things you don’t mean, or use words that don’t sound right. That’s okay.
By the time your baby is old enough to understand, you will have a much greater comfort level and that will translate to your child.
Not everything is comfortable when it comes to talking about adoption, but it’s still your responsibility to help your child learn the language to be able to talk about their story and have greater confidence in their identity. Part of teaching your child is helping them feel comfortable answering difficult or insensitive questions, even if they need a little help from you at first.
How much should you tell others about your child’s story?
When it comes to talking to others (extended family, friends, or really anyone you meet) about their story, just be mindful of what you share. Keep it more focused on your journey. At a certain point, it’s no longer your story to tell. In some cases, it may be necessary for you to share your child’s adoption story, but remember it’s their story, not yours and they may not be comfortable with too many people knowing their personal story.
Should you share the more negative and/or difficult parts of your child’s story with them?
Yes, you should share even the most negative parts of your child’s adoption story with them. Your child deserves to know the truth (no matter how painful it may be to hear), and you should always strive to have an open and honest relationship with him or her. It would be devastating for anyone to learn that his or her parents were withholding the truth from them—you would never want your child to feel that sense of betrayal.
However, there may be certain things that you don’t want to share with a 7-year old. It’s important to consider what may be age-appropriate and what may not. You do not want to make the mistake of tainting your child’s view of their birth family at a young age—instead, honor the role his or her first family played in making you a family.
How do you respond to your child’s emotional reactions?
Your child may find themselves overwhelmed emotionally by parts of their story. It’s important for you to reassure them that their feelings are valid and emotional responses are always warranted. You are teaching him or her that it is okay to process emotions about their adoption story openly. You want your child to know that will be there for them when issues, feelings, and worries arise.
Equipping your child and speaking openly with them about their story is necessary for developing their sense of identity and associating their adoption with a unique and personal story—not something that is secretive or whispered about. Always remember that ultimately it is their story and one that they will choose how, when, and if they share it.
Members of our Instagram community offered that creating a storybook or children’s book or “adoption life book” of your child’s story is a great way to introduce the topic from a young age, embed its importance, and create space from open dialogue to come.