Discussing Adoption With Children
Navigating the adoption process brings up a lot of questions. One of the first you may have is how to bring up the subject of adoption with your child. You need to handle it delicately but with honesty. You may be afraid of making your child feel different or in some way insecure.
The truth is, your child may be different because he or she is adopted. Being different is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, knowing that he or she is adopted can make your child feel special, unique and deeply wanted. You simply need to know how to approach adoption in the first place.
Adoption should be discussed as early in childhood as possible. Even as a toddler, your child should be aware of the term, though it is very possible he or she may not understand what it means. A simple way to explain adoption to a pre-schooler is that you and your spouse are greatly happy to be parents to such a wonderful child, and you are even happier because you were chosen by the woman who gave birth to this beautiful baby. The more you enforce this at a young age, the more accepting your child will be throughout the years.
A young child may ask questions. This is perfectly normal and natural. Allow your child to ask, and then answer as fully as you can. This open relationship helps to forge a deep respect from your child. Being always willing to listen and talk is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child. You should also encourage your child to pray to God, asking Him to look over the birth mother. Your child should be encouraged to thank God for the birth mother’s choice to pursue a Catholic open adoption.
As your child grows, so will the questions about adoption. Your child may ask why the birth mother chose adoption and what caused you to want to adopt. Some questions may be painful for both of you. Your child may ask if you wanted to have natural children and simply “settled” for an adopted child. He or she may even ask if you would prefer they went to live with their birth parent for a while.
As all Catholics know, the key to healthy relationships is honesty and faith in God. Be kind but open with your answers. If you pursued fertility treatments that did not work or if you had multiple miscarriages, tell your child. Don’t keep these things hidden out of fear that it will hurt to hear the truth. It is much more hurtful to a child to later learn that he or she has been deceived. Instead, explain that you had wanted a biological child, but that you also knew God had a plan. God’s plan for you was to adopt. Remind your child that you would not change that if you could.