How to Talk to Kids about Adoption

If your child learns that a friend or classmate was adopted, she'll probably have a lot of questions. She'll want to know what adoption means and how it comes about, or he might even be anxious about the permanence of his own family.

If you're unsure of how to begin the discussion, just start talking. Adoption is not shameful, nor is it secret. Adoptive families talk openly about adoption from the time their children are very young. Take the lead by making it clear that adoption is a wonderful and normal way to build your family, and your children will follow your cues.

Explaining adoption to young children
Tell your child that families can be formed in many ways. Children can live with the family that they were born into, like your family, or with a family that adopts them, like her friend's family. Let your child know that, sometimes, a mother isn't able to raise a child she gave birth to, so she looks for another family to take care of him. That family adopts the child and becomes his family forever.

Even if you know the specific circumstances of your child's friend, steer the conversation to a more general discussion of adoption. Although adoption isn't a secret, each child's story is personal. Some children are comfortable talking to friends and classmates about their adoption situation. Others prefer not to discuss it outside their own family.

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