Explaining Child Adoption to the Adopted Child
Even as an adoption expert working with adoptive families for decades, it is still not easy to find a stock, cook-book answer to your question of what to tell an adopted child. But I might recommend the following: "People become families in different ways ... Dad and I married, and we became a family that way. Some children are born to their parents and come into families that way. And some children are adopted and come to families that way.
I can also offer a few specific suggestions about what not to tell an adopted child:
- I would not tell your son that he was chosen because the flip side of chosen is abandoned/rejected, and children understand that.
- I would not tell your son that you adopted him because he was special, because special means different, and children—especially teens—want to fit in and be like all the other kids.
- I would not tell your son that his birth parents loved him because that positive emotion then would be connected in his mind with "abandonment," "loss" and "rejection."
Each of the above phrases incidentally, has been recommended for all ages, as the best way to explain reasons for child adoption.