How Do You Tell Your Child They Are Adopted?
You’re finally a parent. Your new addition is making contented infant noises in her crib and life is good. Just one thought is troubling you–“how will you tell your bouncing baby girl that she is adopted?”
While your little one is far too young to comprehend grown-up concepts like “adoption,” you can start laying the groundwork now. Here are a few tips for creating an atmosphere of acceptance, conducive to officially imparting the big news.
Creating an “Adoption-friendly” atmosphere
It is important that your child perceives adoption as a positive thing from the very beginning. There are a number of ways that you can prepare her before you actually begin discussing her own adoption.
Don’t avoid the word. Adoption should never be a taboo subject. Without being obsessive or overly obvious, try to use the word whenever the opportunity arises.
Read books. There are age-appropriate story books that you can read to your child to help her become familiar with the subject of adoption. Some examples are We Belong Together by Todd Parr, I Wished For You by Marianne Richmond, and Geoff, the Green Hippo by Denise Olson.
Scrapbook. Children are fascinated with their own history. Try to collect as much information as you can about your child’s biological heritage. What physical traits do her biological mother and father possess? What are their talents? How did you feel when you first set eyes on her? By creating a scrapbook devoted to her adoption, she will be able to learn about her origins and the day she was welcomed into her family. The more pictures you take, the better. For help getting started, check out My Family, My Journey: A Baby Book for Adoptive Families by Zoe Francesca.
Discussing your child’s adoption
Specialists agree that it is important to be honest about your child’s origins from the very beginning. Don’t avoid the subject out of fear it will damage your relationship. It is necessary, however, that you always keep her developmental stage in mind and ensure that the information that you share and the language you use are age appropriate.
Seize opportunities. When your child begins asking questions about “babies growing in tummies,” take the chance to explain that she grew in a different woman’s tummy and then came to live with you. Taking cues from your child will enable you to raise the topic naturally.
Don’t put it off. Sharing the story of her adoption should not be avoided. You will run the risk of her learning the truth from someone else. Plus, evading the issue can give your child the impression that adoption is a bad thing.
Be upbeat. Ensure that you use positive language and an upbeat tone when telling your child about her adoption. Pay particular attention to the words you select when explaining why her birth parents could not keep her. And tell her how happy you were to welcome her into your lives.
Be prepared. Make sure that you are prepared for any questions that your child might ask and that you go in knowing how you will answer them.
If you’d like to read a first-hand account written by an adopted child, read What Adoption Means To Me.
Helping your child cope
As your child grows and their understanding of adoption increases, you will need to prepared for more questions and her subsequent reactions.
Delayed reactions. Your child may appear to accept her adoption very calmly, but become angry and act out later. Don’t be surprised by this. Instead, encourage her to discuss her feelings and ask questions.
Be ready to talk. Your child may need to talk about her adoption often, and yes, it will get repetitious. Remember, that she is trying to wrap her head around the concept of adoption and process her emotions surrounding it. She will need to ask questions and receive the answers many times in order to achieve greater understanding. Make sure that she feels that you are emotionally available to her and quite happy to answer her queries.
Watch for sore points. Some aspects of life–like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and family history-related school projects–can be difficult for some adopted kids. It is important to simply keep an eye on your child to make sure that she isn’t having problems when these occasions arise.
Celebrate who they are. Make sure that your child is proud of her biological heritage by celebrating who she is. Also, make sure that she are aware of how she is similar to you as well. As a product of nature and nurture, your child is likely a blend of both sets of parents–biological and adoptive–and all aspects of who she is should be recognized and celebrated.
So, embrace your tiny bundle of joy. Don’t dwell on your fears. You are equipped to teach your little one about adoption. You have the knowledge and, of course, an unending supply of love.
How did your parents tell you that you were adopted?
Images courtesy of photos.com.
Kimberley Laws is a regular contributor to HowDoYou.com and the author of two blogs, The Embiggens Project and Searching for Barry Weiss. A "Jill of all trades," she is a High School English Teacher and Certified Career Counselor with a background in makeup artistry, retail banking, and graphic design. She is also a scrapbooking, PEZ-collecting, car enthusiast who loves travelling and New York City.
Sep 25, 2013 1
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