When do you tell the adopted child about his or her adoption?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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When to tell a child he or she is adopted is a very personal decision, and it depends on the circumstances.  Although it may seem like you are hurting the child to tell the truth, adopted children usually go through a phase where they want to know their real past.  Keeping the truth from a child often results in feelings of abandonment and betrayal.  Even though the parent had the child’s best interest in mind, the child may not see it that way.

You really do need to look at the developmental level of the child.  When children are too young, they will not understand what you are trying to tell them.  You need to explain when the child is old enough, and again at a deeper level when the child is older.  Keeping open lines of communication and honesty is the key.  Children will have many questions, and need to be able to ask them.

At some point, the child may want to research the birth family or contact the birth parents.  This is not always possible in a closed adoption.  This might make the child feel lost.  Explaining what you know about the circumstances of the adoption will help.  Explain that you brought your son or daughter into your home because you desperately wanted a child. 

Sometimes the best thing a parent can do for her offspring is to give it up to a better home, with more opportunities.  It’s a hard lesson for a child to learn, and will take years.  However, it is important that the child knows that you consider him or her your child, and love him or her as much as a biological child.  This is especially important if you have your own biological children.

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