Step Parent Adoption - Brackenridge,PA

Updated on July 30, 2010
A.P. asks from Pittsburgh, PA
24 answers

Hi everyone. I'm in a little predicament here and I really need some advice. My son is 4 1/2 years old. His biological father is not in the picture at all. My husband has raised him since he was a baby. Right now we are in the process of step parent adoption. The problem is, our lawyer wants us to tell our son that he is adopted. The thought of this literally makes me cry. My husband is the only daddy my son has ever known, and I just don't think he needs to know anything right now. We will eventually tell him, but I want it to be on our own terms. I don't want to feel forced. So my question is, does our son really need to know that my husband isn't his bilogocal father? What age should we tell him? And does anyone have any suggestions on books or what we should tell him? Please help me because this is really tearing me apart. Thank you so much for any advice.

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So What Happened?

Thanks so much for all your advice!! It has been really helpful and inspiring. And thank you aleisha I. You totally got where I was coming from where as other people didn't. I am not sad in any way shape or form that my husband wants to adopt my son. I am more than grateful that I found such a wonderful man to love me and my son. I'm just sad when it comes to telling my son the truth. I don't want him to be confused or to think any differently of his daddy. I guess right now I'm thinking what he doesn't know won't hurt him. But deep down inside I know he needs to know one day. But only when I think he can understand. It won't be when he's 18, I've heard of how traumatizing that can be and I definately don't want that. And as for our lawyer telling us to tell our son, I think its because her daughter is also adopted and she only deals with adoptions at her lawfirm. Our lawyer is wonderful. I felt comfortable with her from the first time I talked to her. Well plus the bio father is contesting(which is also why I'm stressed bc I'm trying to do what's best for my son and it can't be easy) so my son will have a guardian ad litem (kind of like his own lawyer) and our lawyer says that if the guardian ad litem finds out that our son doesn't know she might say its not in his best interest to be adopted. Which doesn't quite make sense to me. So that's why I'm feeling sad and stressed bc I'm feeling pressured to tell him now when I'm not emotionally ready. And I'm sorry if I offended anyone from my post. I think adoption is a great thing and I have nothing bad to say about it at all. So I don't know how I was offensive, I just spoke about how I feel about telling him. I'm not ashamed at all. I just don't want to turn his perfect little world upside down. What's wrong with that? Also my hubby and I have a daughter together. And as for our son, he looks exactly like my husband. Strangers (even old friends) say how he looks more like my hubby than me! I just smile and think to myself, ha if you only knew. :)

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answers from Dallas on

Well, my daughter called my b/f Don until we got engaged when she was 2. Then we said that she could call him Daddy if she wanted. She did. She was adopted by him when she was 4, almost 5 and we had been married for 2 years. We told her that Daddy loved her so much that he wanted to give her his last name and adopt her. She thought it was awesome and never asked questions. She has since (she's 9) but never was devastated about anything. She knows Don as the only daddy she's ever had, and she knows that he loves her. No biggie. No need for a big sit-down right now, just tell him that daddy is adopting him. He is 4. He won't have a ton of questions yet, but it'll prep him for later when he does. Good luck! And congrats!!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I am adopted. I don't know when my parents told me BECAUSE they told me so early in my life. I agree with the lawyer that you need to tell him. This should be a wonderful, happy process. He is getting a real father! It can only be a positive experience if you make it so and that begins by telling the truth.

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Chicago on

Here's my take on it -- why is it so sad that your hubby isn't a biological dad? Why is it sad to you that your son is half adopted? Why all the sadness over adoption? Adoption is a great, loving thing and there is no need to be sad about it! If that were the case, then I should be sad that my adopted daughter knows she's adopted and who her birthmom is, etc. But I'm not. I'm all for honesty, and actually it's a little offensive to me, as an adoptive mom, that someone would have so much angst over telling a child the truth -- that he's adopted. It's not a bad word or a bad thing for goodness sake!

I also was adopted by my step dad when I was little. It is a wonderful thing to be loved by someone who adopts you. It is the same kind of love that bio-parents/kids feel. I also have a biological daughter in addition to my adopted daughter, and I can tell you the love I feel for her and my adopted daughter is exactly the same.

Don't be sad about adoption! Embrace it! Let your son know he was loved so much by his step dad that he wanted to make it permanent. (My dad didn't HAVE to be my parent, he WANTED to be, and he was there for me my entire life. We had a special bond because of that. I'm so glad I knew the truth.)

I understand you're torn apart, but you shouldn't be. The truth about our heritage and our life and who we really are is our right as humans.

And it's so much easier (and honest) to tell kids from the start, rather than let them figure it out on their own as some have suggested here. Your son has a great, happy-ending story here! Talk to him about it now, and it will just be a normal story to him. Trust me, it gets harder as they get older to "spring" something like this on them.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

Go with your gut! I have never met my biological father, and was adopted by my "step-dad" (feels weird to call him that!) at age 3. I don't remember a specific conversation about him not being my biological father- but it was somewhere around 8th grade when I finally realized I didn't really get my blue eyes from him like everyone said! Lol! I was never traumatized by any of it. I always have had the best dad a girl could have- shared DNA or not!!!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

The sooner the better I think. How would you feel if you were 8, or 10, or whatever, and you found out than that your parents had been lying to you your entire life? In my experience nothing good ever comes from lying.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Your lawyer can suggest whatever he wants in the end it is your decision. Definitly down the line when you feel your son is ready you tell him. But if you strongly feel this is not the time.....then it's not!!! How lucky that you and your little boy have your husband in your lives. I wish you all the best.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Harrisburg on

I think it's absolutely none of your lawyer's business on whether or not you tell your son if Dad is his biological or not. This is completely up to you. I think there's pros and cons. You'd be surprised how well a 4 year old can understand and accept. I think it may be easier now than if he's 10. If you tell him in a way that is positive and exciting that "Dad" will be his offical "Dad" you can celebrate.

K. B
mom to 5 including triplets
(oldest son adopted by husband)
events and chat within 2 hour radius

1 mom found this helpful


answers from York on

We are the parents of 4 adopted jewels. I read many years ago a book about a girl who didn't learn that she was adopted until she was nearly 18. Her mother was going to wait until she was 18, but she someway found out via her friends and she nearly went off her rockers. From the very beginning we have let our children know how much we had prayed and longed for a family and God sent them in answer to our many yearnings and prayers. Little by little the real meaning of it is sinking in as they grow (our oldest is 12). I feel that they should always know and if we present it in a positive, loving way, they will not feel rejection.
Another story I heard is of 2 little girls playing on the front porch and their conversation was overheard. One said to the other in scorn, "You're adopted!" The other quickly retorted, "My parents CHOSE me, but yours had to take just what they got!"



answers from Los Angeles on

Ashley, Many yrs ago, almost 40 yrs ago, my huband adopted my 2 children. they were 7 and 8..he had been "their dad since 3 and 2.....there was no problem...Then one day my daughter's friend came over, was looking at family pictures and said how much my daughter looked like her daughter said, well, not really he adopted me....The friend looked at her and said...What this isn't your REAL dad? To which my daughter said, well, of course he is real, he is the only dad we've had.....snd they did know when it was happening.



answers from State College on

I haven't read the rest of the responses, so if I repeat anything already said, I'm sorry.
My 16 year old was adopted by my husband when she was 5 1/2. He had been taking care of her since she was about 9 months. Her bio-dad was in the picture up until the adoption, however he didn't see her regularly or pay for her.
She knows she's adopted. She knew from the get-go.

With your son, he does deserve to know, but I honestly don't see any point right now. If he hasn't had a relationship with his bio-dad, then I see no reason to even bring it up right now.

I will warn you down the road, at least this has been our experience, my husband is NOT considered my daughter's dad...basically by anyone. We are doing family therapy, not b/c of her being adopted but other reasons, and they call him her ADOPTED dad. Anytime things need discussed ppl want to deal with ME and not him b/c he's the "adopted dad."
I will say she gets really angry at ppl when they call him her adopted dad. She says he's her DAD, that he's taken care of her more than her bio-dad. Maybe it's just what we've run in to around here. In one of the forms for her therapy they actually listed her as having an absentee parent (re: her bio-dad). He's been an "absentee" parent almost all her life....
Anyway, I've rambled. You'll want to tell him before someone else does. I wouldn't even consider doing it now. Maybe when he's 8 or 10 and can understand a little better. But I think you really NEED to tell him, though. You don't want him to find out on his own when he's older and be upset with you for NOT telling him.

Good luck!



answers from San Francisco on

There are several questions:
- to tell or not to tell?
- if yes, when to tell?

The odds that your son never discovers he was adopted are very low. So, I would go with telling him. As far as when, I believe it is easier now, as some other moms below who have "always" known. Don't make it a big deal. His daddy loves him so much that he adopts him.
If, how and when you tell hi, however is your decision and not the lawyer's business. What a strange professional advice!



answers from Detroit on

You don't have to tell him now, and I wouldn't recommend it, he isn't old enough to really understand all of it. I would wait until he is at least eight or nine. You don't have to share blood to be a family; my step father offered to adopt me when he and mom got married (I was your son's age) but because mom's ex-husband was still involved, she chose not to have my step-dad adopt me. Then, right before I turned 15, he called my mom to let her know he was going to drive to MI from NJ and let me know that he didn't think I was his. (He's full blooded Chinese and I had blond hair and blue eyes; I've since dyed my hair red). It devastated me, and this time, when my step-dad offered to adopt me, I was the one that had to make the decision because in the court's eyes, I was old enough to understand what was going on and I agreed to it. The point is, that Lenny (my dad) never treated me that much different then he did my brother (except for giving him more freedom because he was a boy, even if my brother is almost six years younger than I am.), he cared for me, loves me, treats my children like they are his biological grandchildren and has acted more like a father than my mom's ex-husband did, even when he was in the picture. I wish you luck.



answers from Tucson on

my question is WHY? would a lwyer tell you to do that? that sounds odd to me! it shouldnt matter , especially at 4 whether he is "adopted" or not! the important thing here is that he has a dad that wants him and loves him, and thats all he needs. and yes as he gets older he will figure it out and it can be explained to him then, but at 4? not only will he not understand fully, but if you have to explain it to him in so much detail that he does somewhat get it, it will be sad for him, there is no need!

as for the people that are "offended by this " im sure she is not sad about the adoption part.. no it is not a sad thing to be adopted, the sad part of this is that he will have to understand that his "biological father" is not around. she is looking for support as to should she tell a 4 year old the truth? will he understand it? etc



answers from Williamsport on

My short answer is: get a new lawyer. Whether or not you tell your son about his biological father is not a legal issue. If the adoption is not being contested, it's none of the lawyer's business.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Does your baby's bio-father pay any support? My husband and I are looking into him adopting my 14yr old but, who he has raised since was 2yr old. My ex has nothing to do with her but pays child support. He hasn't seen or talked to her in 2 years and 8 months. Do you know if their is a time limit for adoptions? I haven't been able to find out any info from the courts except that he has to petition the courts to give up his rights, which he hasn't done or even seems like he is going to do. Do you know of anyway to get his rights stripped? Wish I could offer some advice but, as you see I have more questions than answers.



answers from Chicago on

Hi, kinda went through this with my daughter. She is now 9. My hubby has been with me since I was 5 mos. preg. He raised my daughter w/ me. She has only seen bio-dad once, when she was 4 mos. old. He has never made any effort since. My hubby adopted her when she was 4. We told her about it when she was 7. I didn't go into great detail, just the basics of a family is all those that love you and diff. types of families. I also have 2 other children with my hubby. My daughter was fine with it, she asked daddy to take her to the park when we were done. I didn't want to wait too long to explain because I didn't want ther to resent us for not telling her. As she gets older and has questions, I will be more than happy to answer them, but as of now, she knows that daddy isn't the one that she was "made" by, but he is her father no matter what. Hope this helps.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi Ashley. This is a delicate issue and ultimately you must do what you feel is best but personally, I would suggest stick with honesty being the best policy and do it now. I am 45 now but when I was 16 my parents felt it was the right time to tell me that my mother was 10 years older than I always thought and that my dad was married to someone before my mom. I was crushed! I know it might sound silly to you, but to me, I "lost" 10 years with my mom and they lied to me. That is the risk that you are taking in "protecting" your son. My parents were (I lost my dad last year) fantastic. Loved me completely, tried to do everything they could for me, went to every activity that I participated in and always showed me love and affection, but they also made me question their love by holding back the truth and made me feel like I couldn't be trusted. I realize that your situation is more sensitive than mine, but that is exactly my point. You and your son are so extremely lucky to have a wonderful man step in and step up as a father in every sense of the word. Celebrate that! What a confidence booster for your son that man is choosing him to be his son. Almost anybody can create a life but to love someone enough to legally take action to adopt is one of the best gifts your son can receive! Don't make him question that later in his teens or young adult years when he is questioning who he is already and compounding the issue. Good luck!



answers from Sharon on

I know families who have adopted young children have been encouraged to open with the child from the beginning so that they can accept it better. It seems it is much easier to accept these things when they are young rather than when they are older.

I knew one family that didn't tell their son till he was 8 and he cried and sobbed for days! I also don't know how they told him either.

The family that I knew that was open from the beginning, as encouraged by their case worker. They told their children that they were the luckiest children in the world becuase they got to choose which child they wanted and they chose them! They told them that their mummy and daddy couldn't take care of them so God made a way for them to still have parents.

These children never had issues about being adopted. My best friend growing up was also adopted and they were open from the beginning too. The truth is we become less flexible emotionally as we get older. I would think really carefully about it and think of all the positive ways you could help your child with this information.



answers from Charlotte on

My son is 7, and my husband has raised him from the time he was 18 months old. We have always been very open and honest with our son. He knows that my husband is not his biological father. I think the sooner your son knows the better. Your son deserves to know. It will be easier to tell him when he is younger, because it will be something that he has always known with no shame or stigma attached. By not telling him, you are lying to him. Is that the kind of example you want to set for your child. That lying is ok if it keeps you happy? IIf he finds out on his own, or when he is older he is going to be very upset with you. We are not in 1950 anymore, and there is absolutely nothing shameful about a mixed family. If your husband has raised him, do you really think that your son is not going to consider him his dad??? This seems very selfish to me, and I really don't understand how you can not tell your son. Get out of your fantasy world and back down to reality. Raise a child with some honesty and integrity. Sorry to be so harsh, but your child definitely deserves to know! If you wait too long, he is going to wonder what is so bad about that that you waited so long to tell him and he is going to fight some real issues.



answers from Reno on

I was adopted by my step dad when I was 5 and under similar circumstances. I've always known he wasn't my biological dad, but it has never made one bit of difference to me. My dad ( and he is my dad) is the greatest man I have ever known and I am so glad he chose me. I think if you let your son know that someone else made the baby, but his DAD is the one who raised him he will get it no problem. He knows who loves him. I think when you're little it's easier to absorb than when you get older and then you'd feel like it was some big secret hidden from you and there is something wrong with it.


answers from Allentown on

Hi, Ashley:

I guess the real question is: "Why is this tearing you up?"

What are your fears?

Just want to know. D.



answers from Tulsa on

At some point in the future, sooner or later, that father may grow up and realize what he is missing or someone from that family is going to stop your son on the sidewalk and say something like "isn't *** your mom? Then you must be my grandson", or nephew, or etc... It will come up eventually.



answers from Philadelphia on

My best friend was in the same predicament and was never told to "tell her child that they are adopted". That is your choice of when and how to tell your son. Don't let anyone, not even your attorney, tell you when or how to tell your son. That is a very personal matter and only you and your husband should decide when to tell him.

Lots of luck and stick to your beliefs. As long as your husband loves him like his there even a necessity to tell him?



answers from Philadelphia on

Whether you should tell your son now, and what the lawyer "wants," are two different questions. You have gotten some good feedback here about telling your son or not, but it still should be on your terms and not your lawyer's. How has the lawyer said this? "In my experience with my other clients, telling children while they're young is best," is different from, "If you don't tell him I won't proceed."

I think your first decision isn't about telling your son, it's about whether you want to keep paying for services from an attorney who doesn't respect your wishes.

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