Conversations about adoption comes with several unique benefits and challenges; however, having a conversation with your child is an important one. There are several guidelines and tips, but really the conversation should be exclusive to your child and how it will exude more open communication and positive experiences later down the road.
Adoption Choices of Colorado is here to offer our tips on how to begin the adoption conversation with your child.
Conversations about Adoption should be Positive Ones
The word “adoption” is often shrouded with negative connotations. More times than not, these unfortunate myths and stereotypes stem from those who are unfamiliar with the adoption community, and know only how things have been in the past. If not corrected, this can then spread from generation to generation.
However, much has changed in the adoption industry. There is a lot more openness and emphasis placed on talking to your child about their adoption story and origin. It isn’t a negative thing anymore. Rather, discussing adoption with your son or daughter positively impacts them, and promotes a deeper bond between you both and helps them develop a healthy sense of identity and self-esteem.
Make Your Own Definitions and Rules
Adoption should be talked about in the same fashion that you talk about being a family or saying the phrase, “I love you.” The adoption conversation you have with your child should bring joy and light to the memories you’ve made by bringing him or her into your life.
Much like the word “family,” adoption also has its own literal definitions and social and economic opinions. But a good guideline to follow should be to make your own definition for adoption and to reinforce adoption’s positive impacts. Just like you would when establishing grounds for being a family. After all, saying “I love you” has no rules, so why should your child’s adoption story?
Prior Conversation Thoughts
Here are two things to remember before talking to your child about his or her adoption. One, remember that your child will experience adoption in his or her own way. Two, your child may have challenging feelings or behaviors. If these emotions arise, be sure to validate his or her feelings. Acknowledge that your child isn’t alone in the journey.
Guidelines when Talking about Adoption with Your Child
- Make the word adoption a household term. That way you can work toward building a positive connection to the word, similar to the positive connotation that saying ‘I love you’ has.
- Make sure you are comfortable talking about your child’s adoption and how you became a family. Your child will sense your comfort, which won’t send the message that adoption is taboo and unwelcome when he or she starts to ask questions.
- Create a personalized adoption story book about how you became a family. All children love books and stories about themselves.
- Be able to answer the question, “Did I grow in your belly?” Dr. Jennifer Bliss, a psychologist and licensed clinical social worker and writer from Psychology Today, talks about how, “it is important to establish that you love [your child] just as much as if [he or she] had grown in your belly. Especially since all children need to understand that they came into the world the same as everyone else. But there are different ways that families are created. The goal is to build a foundation for positive self-esteem as it relates to adoption.” Actress Viola Davis perfectly answers the question ‘did I grow in your belly?’ to her adopted daughter, “I always tell Genesis she was born from my heart, not my belly.”
- Be honest and age-appropriate when you answer the questions your child may have. Especially as your child gets older, he or she will begin to fully understand and become more aware of his or her circumstances. Acknowledge the fears your child may have, for awareness of being different and adopted comes with loss, insecurities, and questions about your child’s birth parents and not being related to you biologically.
- When you are talking about your child’s adoption story, be sure to express excitement about how he or she came into your life. If your child sees your positive feelings toward adoption, they will start to internalize those same feelings.
- Remember that the conversation about adoption is not a one-time thing. You will always be talking about adoption with your child.
The Most Important Basic Tip:
Family Lives UK talks about the meat and potatoes of having the adoption conversation with your child: “Appreciating your child’s identity and positively tackling issues as they come up will help your child understand that [he or she] should acknowledge and be proud of who [he or she is].”
The Lifelong Conversation
Overall, the way you discuss adoption with your child should be unique to you and your family. You should instill positive connotations and ideals about adoption. This will help your child build a healthy sense of self-esteem and identity, as well as a more optimistic perspective about where he or she came from.
At the end of the day, your child’s adoption story is your child’s own. No one else’s. Your child should feel confident about his or her history, and proud of who they are as a person. So, when you talk to your child about adoption, make it special. Memorable. Something that your son or daughter can take great pride in and cherish.
Adoption Choices of Colorado
For more information on adoption please contact Adoption Choices of Colorado. We can be reached via our website or phone 303-670-4401.
Support Adoption Choices
Adoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowdrise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more.
However, we can’t do it alone. Please read up on our programs and donate money where you are able. Your donation will make a huge impact.
About the Author
Taylor Tsakopulos, the bestselling student. She has interned locally in Denver and internationally in Dublin, Ireland, taken classes/workshops and worked odd jobs and yet always comes back to being a student and the desire to learn or create.
When she isn’t creating content, she’s off dancing and hiking. Always chasing after new things and experiences. After living and working in Europe she is hungry for more…
5 Tips for Talking to Your Child About Their Adoption. (2018, January 23). Retrieved December 17, 2019, from https://www.americanadoptions.com/blog/5-tips-for-talking-to-your-child-about-their-adoption/.
Adoption Terminology and Language. (n.d.). Retrieved December 17, 2019, from https://www.friendsinadoption.org/adoption-resources/for-potential-adoptive-parents/resources-for-adoptive-families/adoption-terms/.
Contributor, S. (2017, August 28). Positive Adoption Language [INFOGRAPHIC]. Retrieved December 17, 2019, from https://chlss.org/blog/positive-adoption-language-infographic/.
How and When to Discuss Adoption With Your Child. (n.d.). Retrieved December 17, 2019, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/navigating-the-adoption-journey/201703/how-and-when-discuss-adoption-your-child.
How Do I Use Positive Adoption Language? (n.d.). Retrieved December 17, 2019, from https://adoption.org/use-positive-adoption-language.
How to tell your child they are adopted. (n.d.). Retrieved December 17, 2019, from https://www.familylives.org.uk/advice/your-family/fostering-adoption-kinshipcare/how-to-tell-your-child-they-are-adopted/.
Rosenhaus, N. (2019, July 29). Positive vs. Negative Adoption Language. Retrieved December 17, 2019, from https://adoptionswithlove.org/uncategorized/adoption-language.
Singer, E. (n.d.). Talking With Children About Adoption. Retrieved December 24, 2019, from https://adoptionsupport.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Talking-with-Children.pdf.