How do you respond to your child asking, "What's the truth about my birth parents?"

How do you respond to your child asking, "What's the truth about my birth parents?" 

Answers

  • Talking to your child about his birth parents may seem like an incredibly difficult task to overcome, but it really shouldn't be that hard. Hopefully your child has always known about the adoption and didn't uncover a family secret. It is completely normal for an adopted child to ask questions about who and where they came from. It's natural to want to know those things. When the time ends comes to have that talk it should be done in passing not as a sit-down event.

    Adoptions all have varying amounts of skeletons. Your child could be the product of an unmarried couple or even a rape. The way you answer his questions will affect the way he handles the information. Starting from when the subject is first broached, you should give as honest of an answer as the age of the child will allow. As the child grows up and reaches different levels of maturity and understanding, you may give additional details. As for a sexual assault, the choice will be yours whether or not to disclose all of the facts.

    If life has shown me anything though, in all my years it's that the truth always comes out eventually. As parents we want to protect our children from everything. This is their story though. We should teach them that despite their past or start in life, they choose what their life becomes.

    However you choose to approach the conversation, it's best done over time. In an emotional situation such as adoption our minds need time to process information before we can start to see things positively. If you give your child news that is upsetting you must allow some time and space for him to deal with it in his own way. Remind him that the past is just the past and now he makes the future.

  • This question is one of the reasons why I love having an open adoption so much. We have a very open adoption with our son’s birthmom, allowing for an open dialog about his birth parents. We know a lot about his birth mom and unfortunately, nothing about his birth dad. So when the time comes, and he understands better, we will tell him his story.  For more information about open adoptions, check out openadoptions.com.

    We have already talked to him about being adopted, but of course, he is too young at this point to know what that really means. Other than he knows he did not grow in my belly but in that of another. But in each stage of life, we will tell it to him differently. He is not going to understand the concept of a “one night stand” at this point in his life. But at some point, he will.

    I also see no harm in telling our son the truth. Not every child was created in a beautiful situation, and especially in adoptions. But I feel they deserve to know the truth of how they were created. We will also tell him, he simply was created to be ours.  For more tips/help on adoption, check out Adoptionmagazines.com.






  • edited April 28
    Great question! It is easy to kind of "forget" the fact that our children will one day be old enough to ask these kinds of questions and to expect answers. Tonight, I sat with my 2 year old daughter whom we adopted at 4 months of age and read her the book, "Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born." It is one of many great children's adoption books, but it is my favorite right now because it meets my daughter where she is at in her understanding of adoption. She simply knows the word "adopted." However, as she grows, the story will begin to mean something to her. She will know from the book and from my story her origin story. 

    As she grows, I know the questions will get harder. The question will move from the what ("What does it mean that I am adopted?"), to the how ("How did I come to live with you?") to the why (Why did they place me/why didn't they want me?"). I am so not ready for the "why", though I have to begin to prepare myself for the sake of my child. Any adoptive parent does. 

    To answer the question at hand, you have to meet you child where they are and understand what they are asking. If I told my two year old daughter the full "truth" of her story and not some sugary bedtime story, she would look at me like I had lost my mind. Around age 6, I still won't be able to explain the full story, but maybe more of the "how." For instance, this is how we came to know your birth parents and these are the steps we took to adopt you. Around age 10-13, this is when they "why" might come and be appropriately answered. The "truth" about their birth parents will vary based on their situation. It is ok to protect your child to an extent without leaving too much undisclosed. Only you know what is appropriate for your child and what they can understand. However, if they are asking a specific question, they are most likely ready for the answer. You as their parent can help them work through any emotion they might experience. If you have not yet told your child they are adopted, here is a great resource to help you do just that. 
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