Adopting the Right Approach

A Therapists’ Suggestions for Discussing Adoption with Your Child 

 Adoption is a beautiful method to build a family, but it is not without its difficulties. One of the most difficult tasks for adoptive parents is discussing their adoption with their child. It is a delicate subject that necessitates a great deal of consideration and sensitivity, particularly when it comes to different age groups. To help you navigate this treacherous terrain, these are my tips based on research, and my own experience as an adoptive parent.  

GoodTherapy | Adoption

 Different Discussions for Different Age Groups

For Infants and Toddlers: Babies and toddlers do not yet comprehend what adoption entails. Nonetheless, it is essential to establish the groundwork for future discussions. When discussing adoption with young children, it is recommended that you use straightforward, positive language. For instance, you could say, “We adopted you because we desired to be your parents. We love you very much.” 

 For Preschoolers: Preschoolers are beginning to fathom the concept of adoption but may not fully comprehend its complexities. Experts suggest using age-appropriate language when explaining adoption to young children. You could say “When you were born, you grew in another mommy’s tummy. But then you came to live with us because we wanted to be your family forever.” 

 For Elementary School Students: Elementary school students have a deeper comprehension of the world, including adoption. They may begin to inquire more about their birth parents and the reasons for their adoption. Experts recommend being honest and open with your child while also respecting their boundaries and emotions. You could say “Your birth parents loved you very much, but they couldn’t take care of you at the time. That’s why they chose us to be your family. We want you to know that we love you just as much as they do.” 

 For Teenagers: Teenagers are navigating their own identities and may have more complicated adoption-related sentiments. They may experience feelings of loss or confusion regarding their birth family. Experts recommend being supportive and empathetic when listening to your teen’s emotions. You could say “We know that being adopted can be complicated, and we’re here to support you no matter what. We’re always open to discussing your adoption and your feelings about it.” 

GoodTherapy | Adoption Discussions

RELATED GOODTHERAPY BLOG: Adolescence and Adoption: How Adoptive Parents Can Support Teens

Use These Approaches to Discuss Adoption

Regardless of your child’s age, it is essential to approach the subject of adoption with affection, sensitivity, and candor. Here are a few additional considerations: 

 Be honest: It’s important to be truthful with your child about their adoption. Avoid keeping secrets or withholding information. 

 Be supportive: Your child may have a range of emotions about their adoption. Let them know that you’re there for them and that their feelings are valid. 

 Be open: Adoption is a lifelong journey, and your child may have questions or feelings at different stages of their life. Stay open to having ongoing conversations and being a supportive presence in their life. 

 Seek support: If you or your child are struggling with the emotional challenges of adoption, don’t be afraid to seek support from a therapist or adoption support group. 

 Adoption is a lifelong journey, and your child may have concerns or emotions at various stages of his or her development. Continue to be available for ongoing conversations and a positive presence in their life. 

Do not be afraid to seek assistance from a therapist or adoption support group if you or your child are struggling with the emotional challenges of adoption. 

RELATED GOODTHERAPY BLOG: Feeling Felt: The Importance of Adoption Support Groups

Enjoy the Adoption Journey

In conclusion, conversing with your child about their adoption can be a delicate and difficult subject, but it is crucial to do so. You can help your child navigate their adoption journey with confidence and pride by using age-appropriate language, being truthful and transparent, and providing support and love. Adoption is a beautiful way to establish a family, and you and your child can travel this path together. 

The GoodTherapy registry might be helpful for you. We have thousands of therapists listed with us who would love to walk with you on your journey. Find the support you need today.

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  • Sally

    June 1st, 2023 at 5:01 PM

    This straight forward and simple approach can relieve the complex and emotional waters of adoption. Thank you.
    With our mixed race adoption we found that approaching adoption as a process not an event. That process begins by celebrating the diversity in the family, in our friend group, and in out social networks. This includes all kinds of diversity – diversity of talents, capacities, personality. As we moved into the ‘telling’ stage, the adoption played a role in enhancing the diversity of the family. Over the years interesting situations of biases toward diversity have come up, but the groundwork laid early has held us all true to our love and acceptance of diversity.

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