17 answers

How and When to Tell My Child She's Adopted

I adopted my little girl at the age of 2, she's now 6yrs old. Last year she came home from school very excited that her teacher was having a baby. Every day she would tell me how big her teacher's tummy was. Then her question was, did i come out your tummy mama?
My answer was no you came out of my heart. My question is at what age should i tell her about the adoption and her biological family?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I would like to thank everyone for their advice on telling my daughter about her adoption. It went well, I know she didn't really understand but with time she will. The only thing she wanted to know was her bi-mother's name, I'm preparing myself now for the BIGGER QUESTIONS. Thanks again

Featured Answers

Hi V.,

My mother got pregnant with me and married at a young age. The marriage didn't last, but she did remarry and the man she married adopted me. This didn't happen until second grade. I didn't quite understand and remember asking my mother if she was my real mother. It was very confusing. I think if you are going to tell her, talk to her about it all the time. I was too young to understand fully then, so they told me again when I was in seventh grade (12 or 13 maybe).
I was really disappointed that they had kept this from me and I was missing out on a relationship with my grandparents. They had been sending me birthday cards and such all those years.
Sometimes the truth is hard, but if you share it with her she will appreciate it.
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Don't put it off for another second. It would have been best to tell her the day you brought her home and talked about it over the years as she got older. The times children have huge problems with being adopted is when they haven't been told all their life and it comes as a total shock when they are older. If you talk about it from the time they are small, that is the only thing they will know. They will not get older and remember in detail that one day they were told they were adopted. And so, it won't be a shock to them. Please talk to her ASAP. Just my advice. You don't have to take it, as it is my opinion, but it is what I believe 100% in my heart.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

Ideally she would have always known. Even as a toddler you can talk about adoption. But if that is not the case, please start talking about it now. The last thing you want is for the information to come as a shock leaving your child wondering "what else hasn't my mom told me?" Don't think of it as one big talk, rather as something that is a very natural part of your lives. It should come up in conversation from time to time - sometimes she will have lots of questions, others not so many. But when she asks about preg ladies is a perfect time to say, "I remember how excited I was when you came to be my daughter." Tell her the story like it is the best thing that ever happened to you (because it is!). Don't be embarassed or think that being adopted will hurt your child emotionally - she will take her lead from you. If you think adoption is awesome and special, so will she.

No need to tell her more than she is ready to hear. IF the details about bio family are not so great, a simple "they loved you but couldn't take care of you." will work. Older children will be ready for more info about why. If you are having a hard time getting the story going, there are now many children's books about adoption. Go to amazon and search for children's adoption - lots of stories about bringing a new child into the home. It doesn't have to be exactly like your story, but would help to get the conversation started.

Good luck - please start talking now.

2 moms found this helpful

I agree, the earlier you tell her the better. You can make it a lovely story. Instead of saying, "Your birthday mother gave you away," it is better to say "She placed you with us because she loved you so much and wanted better for you than she was able to give you." Or something to that effect. There are some good books out there for children, so I'd go to Borders or Barnes and Noble and look over what is available to see which book is a good fit for your daughter's and your circumstances. It is important to be honest but keep it simple. If you don't know the answer to a question, you can always say, "That is a great question, let me think about how to answer that and I'll get back with you on that." This works for any sensitive questions such as sex questions that inevitably come up. I do like that you told her she grew in your heart. Enjoy your sweet daughter!

1 mom found this helpful

I am the adoptive mother of one son, now 23 years old. I studied how and when to tell him and, like you, agonized about it.

It is considered best to make the adoption just a matter of fact "I chose you" story from early childhood rather than having the big sit down "guess what" story later. I always made comments to others about how special he was because he was chosen and adopted. When he began asking the usual questions about growing in my tummy, my story was that I wanted him very much but no matter how I tried, I couldn't grow him. However, I prayed to God and begged God and one day God found someone who would grow my son for me.

When my son became 18, I gave him contact information for his birth mother and for his four biological siblings. An interesting side story to this is that his oldest bio sibling, a sister, is a single Mom to one. Her little girl calls me Grandma.

I know a lot of people who were adopted. They never forget that the parents who raised them are Mom and Dad and that the woman who gave birth to them was just their birth mother.

My son is currently on what I hope is a temporary voyage of discovery. He has been trying to move in with his birth mother and has stopped contacting me. Although it hurts, I feel that he needs to do this in order to find out about himself.

1 mom found this helpful

We have two kiddos from Guatemala. I don't think I could hide their adoptions even if I wanted to...they look quite different from me! We have always been very honest and matter of fact about it. Our son is still not old enough to ask questions but our daughter (5) goes through periods where she asks. I just answer what I can and if I don't know, I tell her that too. I show her pictures from her life before me (those I have) and tell her how long we waited to bring her home. So far that has gone well...I guess time will tell! I rarely bring it up with her; I wait for her to ask me. And she will. I do pray sometimes at night, specifically thanking God that she is in our family, thanking Him for her birthmother, thanking Him for His plan to bring her to us...

Best wishes! It is hard/scary at times, but a natural step for adopted kids to want to know...

1 mom found this helpful

One of my best friends in school is adopted and she always knew it. I would say to tell your daughter now; she is old enough to understand. Let her know that God gives us all babies to love. Some come out of our tummies and some don't, but the love is still the same. She should know now instead of accidentally finding out from someone else later. Good luck.

J.

1 mom found this helpful

Don't put it off for another second. It would have been best to tell her the day you brought her home and talked about it over the years as she got older. The times children have huge problems with being adopted is when they haven't been told all their life and it comes as a total shock when they are older. If you talk about it from the time they are small, that is the only thing they will know. They will not get older and remember in detail that one day they were told they were adopted. And so, it won't be a shock to them. Please talk to her ASAP. Just my advice. You don't have to take it, as it is my opinion, but it is what I believe 100% in my heart.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi V.,

My mother got pregnant with me and married at a young age. The marriage didn't last, but she did remarry and the man she married adopted me. This didn't happen until second grade. I didn't quite understand and remember asking my mother if she was my real mother. It was very confusing. I think if you are going to tell her, talk to her about it all the time. I was too young to understand fully then, so they told me again when I was in seventh grade (12 or 13 maybe).
I was really disappointed that they had kept this from me and I was missing out on a relationship with my grandparents. They had been sending me birthday cards and such all those years.
Sometimes the truth is hard, but if you share it with her she will appreciate it.
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Honestly you should have started when you first adopted her since she was already 2 yrs old. Please look into some books for kids on adoption http://www.comeunity.com/adoption/books/0children-adoptio... has a good list. Don't worry about a lot of details until she gets comfortable with the idea that she is adopted. Make sure to not cast her birth family in a negative light and let her know that she is so loved by all.

My daughter was adopted at birth and when she started talking we just introduced the word adoption into her vocabulary. Then we told her she was adopted and when she was a little older I told her how she grew in her birth mom's tummy. We just progressed from there and always answer questions she may have but on an age appropriate level. It's no big deal to our daughter, just like you have aunts, uncles and cousins; she has a birthmom. We talk about how much we love her birth mom for making us a family.

Another helpful source for other adoptive parents is www.adoption.com They even have forums for parents who adopt from a relative or from the foster care system.

Good luck and just always be honest without putting down her birth family. It's best to leave out the bad details until she is older and can process what might have happened to her.

1 mom found this helpful

As every has said, tell her about it in a age appropriate way. Make it a normal part of your family and vocabulary. NO big deal. My daughter is adopted ( she is now 8) like your duaghter had no real questions tell we had a biological child of our own and she started school. So each time we explained how we became a family with her and how families are created in different ways. DON"T WAIT till she is and adult or teenager. I know a family who waited til child was a teenager. It was devastating to the child, he felt lied to and as something was wrong with him and adoption.

1 mom found this helpful

I think you should have already told her. I was adopted as a baby. My bedtime stories were about a little baby who was waiting for a mommy and a daddy. A nice man and woman found out about the little baby and went to the hospital and picked her up. I was always aware that "I was picked over all the other children when my parents fell in love with me at first site." It was never a secret to be revealed. I always knew I had been chosen. I was told about the nice lady who wanted me to have a good life and gave me to my parents because she knew they loved me so much. You can't tell her how big your tummy grew, but you can tell her everything you did to prepare for her. Tell her how you cried because you wanted her so much and it wasn't time for her to join your family yet. She was meant to be in your family--she just took a detour to get there. Make sure she understands that she is "yours".

1 mom found this helpful

My husband was told he was adopted at 3yrs. old.

That being said I strongly reccomend the book "growing up again". It talks about the emotional needs of children as they move through different developmental stages. Adopted children have different emotional needs, I was quite surprised to find out.

However after learning about this difference in needs and how often these needs aren't met because people simply don't know they need to meet them, it explained alot about my husbands and his family's behaviors and has helped me to be more understanding and know what I need to do to be there for him, to help him through a difficult situations.

I think this book would help you to understand when and how you should tell your daughter based on her own development.

Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Hello. I also have adopted children, 6 in fact! Before entering this lifestyle, I read many books and talked with many adoptees from various ages, backgrounds, and stories. My suggestion is to NOT lie. Silence is easiest on us parents, but can foster a sense of being lied to as the child grows older. I have found that if I use an attitude of acceptace and relaxation, my children mimick that attitude and we are able to have open conversations about their 'previous life' frequently. They do not need to hide their feelings from me, and I am able to help love on them through their experiences. My elementary age children remember well life before my home. The babies (age 12 and 26 months) do not have any prior memories, but I still tell them their story of joining our family at least once a week as a bedtime story. The 2 year old loves to hear the story about when I met him at a McDonald's.

Because I do not personally know the kiddos bio-family, I allow the big kids to share their memories with the younger kids. Some stories are happy, others heart-wrenching -- but that is what they remember. I hug them and we pray for their bio-family together. I tell them how much I admire them for their strength to walk this difficult road. I LISTEN for hours. And I hug lots! Open communication is the key.

The facts is you will have to deal with this eventually. The younger this is presented, the less negative reaction you will probably experience. A 6 year old is old enough to understand love, loss, lies, and also forgiveness.

My advice is to tell her a bedtime story about a young princess who you met and fell in love with, and who is the light of your life! No need to focus on the horror of the tale, but the love from you. Start with the story of your lives together (meeting and adoption). Tales of the bio-family will come soon. Tell her when you can sit with her and allow her time to process this without having to run-off to something else... Friday night before a quiet weekend at home maybe.

I will be praying for you as you enter a new relationship with your daughter. Remember, it doesn't HAVE to be a scary story filled with hate, drugs & loss -- it can be a beautiful love story too!

1 mom found this helpful

I am one of 5 adopted children. We were all told from the very beginning that we were adopted. I don't even remember an age when I "found out." I think my parents talked about it from the time we were babies and through our lives.

I think it is very important that you tell your daughter immediately. She will not want to find out later, from someone else, and hold it against you that you didn't tell her. Also, any information you have about her biological parents should be told, at some point. Maybe not at this age, but later. I don't know the circumstances, so it really depends, but someday she may want to know about her birth mother/father.

I have read many books about the adoption triangle (birth parents/adoptive parents/adoptee). Even when adoptees say they are not curious about their b-parents, they probably are. You need to prepare yourself (mentally) in case she ever wants to find them. Of course, she would have to be at least 18, and this is assuming that one or both birth parents are alive. But I know adoptees who don't ever want to meet their b-parents. It just all depends on the person.

Since she was 2 years old when she was adopted, it seems like there were probably bad circumstances with the b-mom or b-dad. If that is the case, I would treat her adoption as a "need to know" basis. Right now, just tell her that you wanted to be her mom very badly, and her own mom couldn't take care of her.

If you ever need to ask me any questions about adoption, please e-mail me. I have a huge story and not enough room to write about it on here. God bless you for being a good mom!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi V.,

What a perfect response to her question! We adopted our son at birth and he has always known he is adopted. It is an open adoption and he has contact with his birth families. I'd say just answer her questions the way you are...that you carried her in your heart. When she asks specifically what that means I'd suggest that you be honest and say that she was born to another mommy but it was you that God chose for her to live with. Our son started questioning adoption around the same age as your daughter. We simply told him that his birth mommy and daddy loved him so much that they gave him to us to raise because they were so young and didn't know how to raise a child. That seemed to apease his curiosity until he was older, maybe 9 or 10, and we could explain the whole situation.

Good luck,

W. Q

1 mom found this helpful

I'd do it as soon as possible. Don't make a huge deal out of it, and explain it in simple terms. As with anything, more details come as they get old enough for them. But of course be very positive and open about it, and encourage her emphatically to ask any questions whenever she feels like it. Then, in the weeks to follow, demonstrate your openness and positive attitude toward adoption and talking about it by bringing it up once or twice, for example, referring to some other kids whom you know are adopted. You can ask your daughter questions, too, to generate discussion.

You should also be able to refer to the adoption agency's social worker for guidance.

1 mom found this helpful

We adopted my son at birth. The books I've read and talking to other adoptive parents all say talk about it as soon as they understand and before. As soon as you are comfortable with saying the words - they will be too. My son is 4. I talk about him being a chosen child from time to time and there are some good book you can read to her about being adopted at Barnes & Noble. I tell me son God answered our prayers by bringing him to our family. I know several teenage kids who were adopted young and they say they remember always knowing they were adopted and it's no big deal. One girl told me when she was little, if a kids teased her, she would say, "Well my parents chose me, your parents got stuck with you". I love your answer that she came from your heart because it's the truth. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi, I was in the same boat as you. I got my two little angels at the age of three and two and adopted them when they were four and five. I told mine as soon as i thought they would understand. They are now six and five and I now the six year old understands totally but my five year old doesn't really get it. I went to the library, the children's section has great books about adoption. I went by myself at first and read through them and found the ones that best fit my story as i am single as well and didn't get mine from birth. I read them to them and then told the story of how they came to me. There are tons and not all of them will fit your situation so find the ones that go with your situation. I then bought a few and they can read them any time they want. Make sure you think about what you are going to say before having the talk with her as you don't want her to take it the wrong way. I would join cafemom and join the foster/adoptive group, they can give you great ideas on how they told there children and what books they read. I will try and find a few that i did since out situation is simular and come back and post them. It won't be for a few days though...

1 mom found this helpful

Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.