Adoption can be a tricky subject. Parents sometimes worry that they may harm their children by approaching it in the wrong way. In most cases, the only wrong way to discuss adoption is to not discuss it at all.
Explaining Adoption to the Pre-School Age Child
A young child cannot understand abstract concepts like adoption. Instead of trying to explain the reasons behind the adoption, simply make the word a part of your child’s life. Talk about adoption in a positive way. Point out movie or cartoon characters who have been adopted and relate them to your child. Repeat how happy you are that you were able to adopt your child.
Young children may have questions about the word and what it means. The most important thing you can do, as a parent, is be honest. Explain that some mothers have their own children and others adopt. Offer honest answers if your child asks you why you chose to adopt. However, you should use simple language so its easier to understand.
The more you talk about adoption, the more comfortable your child will be with the idea that he or she was not born to you but is your child just the same.
Talking About Adoption with School Age Children
By the time a child reaches school, he or she should already have a firm grasp on the idea of adoption. Through open adoptions, the child has likely already met or at least communicated with the birth mother. This is a time that children may ask not why you chose to adopt, but why the birth mother chose adoption. Again, it is important to be honest and clear. Be sure your child knows that the birth mother would not have been able to raise any child at that time in her life.
School age children may begin to worry that you will place them for adoption as well. Explain permanence to your child. Let him or her know the amount of work and effort that went into adoption proceedings. Show photographs of your first meetings. Explain to your child that you are family forever and that a biological connection has very little to do with a family relationship.
Children understand well with examples. Talk about the different ways families are formed other than adoption. Talk about stepparents, foster systems, cohabitation and any other examples you can find. Watch television shows and movies with positive adoption stories. Find examples of celebrities who have adopted or were themselves adopted. Over time, your child will feel special to have been chosen by you.
The best thing you can do for your child is to always have an open channel to discuss adoption. Do not keep anything hidden and, above all, do not tell even little white lies. Honesty and openness are the best ways to forge and keep a strong relationship with your child.