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When and How You Should Tell Your Adopted Child About His or Her Biological Parents

DiPietro Law Group, PLLC

Raising an adopted child may be a delight, but it comes with a unique set of challenges few biological parents face. Chief among these: dealing with difficult questions about your children’s birth parents.

Let Children Know Of Their Origins Early And Often

Adopted children deserve to know of their origins early on. As an adoptive parent, you should make it clear that you regard adoption as a positive. Early on, there’s no need to discuss specifics about birth parents. Simply let your children know that they are adopted and very, very loved. Some experts recommend introducing the term “adopted” at around 4 years, depending on maturity. Don’t avoid sharing this information until adolescence; Dr. Steven Nickman tells Parents that late discovery of adoption can harm teenagers’ self-esteem.

Getting Into Specifics

The age at which children learn the details about their birth parents will depend largely on the circumstances underlying each child’s adoption. Openly adopted children often enjoy strong relationships with both their adoptive and birth parents, so they may be aware of their adoption story from a young age. For other children, curiosity may be sparked by racial differences between them and their adopted parents.

If the story underlying adoption is not particularly sensitive and the adopted child is ready, you can begin exploring specifics once he or she becomes a preteen. Children with self-esteem issues or complicated adoption stories may not be prepared for this information until they’re older.

If Your Child Initiates the Conversation

Don’t be offended if your child launches a search for his or her biological parents. Curiosity is only natural. Wait to discuss the situation until you’re in a calm and private environment. Share pictures if they’re available, or admit if you know little about the birth parents, as is often the case in international adoptions. Be empathetic if your child unexpectedly lashes out; many experience feelings of grief or abandonment upon learning the circumstances surrounding their adoption.

Depending on your child’s age and the whereabouts of his or her birth parents, you both may benefit from conducting further research together. If your child exhibits little interest (a surprisingly common phenomenon), don’t push the topic until he or she is ready to learn more.

Sensitivity and empathy can make all the difference as your adopted child explores his or her background.

DiPietro Law Group has experienced Maryland family law attorneys who can prove a valuable resource whether you intend to expand your family through adoption or provide such an opportunity for another family. Call now for adoption lawyers.

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