- Be caring and supportive. How you speak is just as important as what you say. Your child will pick up on your attitude and tone of voice.
- Be comfortable telling the story of your child’s adoption. From the time that he comes to live with you, your child should know that he was adopted. You can help your child to know that you are comfortable with his adoption by using phrases such as “when you joined our family” rather than “when you were born.” This will help to encourage discussion.
- If your child asks questions, answer them directly. Young children need short and simple answers. They can always get more detailed or complex explanations later, when needed.
- When your child asks questions, try to figure out what she really wants to know. For example, if she says, “Did I grow in your tummy, mommy?” she probably wants to know whether she came from a woman’s womb, just as other children.
- If your child asks why he was placed for adoption, a simple answer is: “Your birthparents were unable to take care of any child born to them at that time”.
- Try not to make too much of your child’s adoption. If you or other family members keep reminding your child that she is adopted, you may cause her anxiety.
- Always be open to talking and communicating. If your child is not asking questions, it may be because he doesn’t want to upset you or hurt your feelings. It’s normal for him to be curious about where he comes from and to search for answers. It doesn’t mean that he doesn’t love you.
Making Sense of Adoption: A Parent’s Guide by Lois Melina. New York: HarperCollins, 1989.
The Family of Adoption by Joyce Maguire Pavao. Boston: Beacon Press, 1998.
“Talking to children about being adopted: When to start, what to say, what to expect” by Lois Melina. Adopted Child 2000;19:1-4.
Why? Children’s Questions What They Mean and How to Answer Them by R Formanek and A Gurian. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1980.
A Canadian Paediatric Society statement is also available, Understanding adoption: A developmental approach
Source: Developed by the CPS Community Paediatrics Committee. Published in Paediatrics & Child Health, May/June 2001