“I’m due soon, and I just found out that I’m having a boy. How will the adoptive parents tell my child about me when he’s older? How will they tell him that he was adopted? I love my son so much already, and I don’t want him to grow up thinking I’m an evil person who just gave him up.”
As you think about adoption, you probably have lots of questions about your child’s understanding of their adoption. You may also have questions about how the parents will tell your child about you.
Right now, you may be wondering:
- How will the adoptive parents refer to me when explaining about the adoption?
- How and when will my child know they were adopted?
- Will I be able to talk to my child about their adoption?
In the past, people kept adoption a family secret. It was typical for children to grow up unaware that they were adopted and learn about their biological family much later in life. Fortunately, this isn’t the case anymore.
With today’s modern adoptions, adoptive parents tell children their adoption stories and about their birth parents from the beginning. Open adoptions are “the new norm,” as 95% of adoptions are open in some way. From the moment the parents you selected bring your baby home, they’re encouraged to speak positively of their adoption story and of you.
Since the adoptive parents see adoption as a part of their family’s story, it will always be a normal part of your child’s life. That means your child will always know about their adoption, so it won’t shock or surprise them.
You might have fears, like, “Will my child hate me for placing them for adoption?” and “Will they understand why I chose adoption?” These are all normal concerns. Since you love your baby unconditionally, you want to make sure that they will know that and feel comfortable with their adoption and with you. In this video, you’ll hear from Alexa, whose biological parents placed her for adoption at birth:
Lifetime Adoption has helped thousands of birth parents make an adoption plan through our agency, most through open adoptions. We understand how important it is for children to grow up knowing how amazing adoption is and how courageous their birth parents are.
We can help you create a strong, positive open adoption relationship, so you’ll always know that your child understands your adoption decision and appreciates you.
Do Adopted Children Know They Were Adopted?
Most adopted children grow up knowing they were adopted. Today, 95% of adoptions are open, meaning children and their adoptive parents keep in touch with their birth families. Open adoption has been proven to benefit all involved, most importantly, the adopted child. Children placed through open adoption benefit from a stronger sense of identity, surrounded by love from their adoptive parents and birth parents. Plus, they won’t have to wonder where they came from.
Adoptive families celebrate their child’s adoption story with them from early on, which helps the child as they form their identity. Most adopted children also learn about their biological family from a young age. This knowledge helps them feel connected to their birth family.
At Lifetime, we understand how important openness is to adoptive families, birth parents, and adoptees alike. While it is your decision about what kind of relationship you want with your baby and the adoptive family, Lifetime Adoption requires that each of our adoptive families be open to contact with you after placement.
Our adoption professionals provide adoptive families with education and support to ensure that they tell their child that they were adopted from the beginning. Your child will grow up understanding their adoption story. Since you’re in complete control of the parents you choose for your baby and can get to know them during your pregnancy, you can be confident that they will talk about adoption the way you wish.
What Adoptive Parents Will Tell Your Child About You
If you don’t want to stay in contact with the adoptive family after the adoption, your child will still learn about you from their parents to whatever extent the adoptive parents know about you. Your child will know whatever facts about you that you would like them to know. They will know that you love them and chose adoption because of that love.
If you choose an open adoption, you’ll be able to tell your child yourself about why you chose adoption. This option lets you and your child get to know one another directly. Many birth mothers keep a relationship with their child and the adoptive parents, which can feel much like an extended family.
Discuss With the Adoptive Parents
Once you choose adoptive parents for your baby and decide to match with them, you can ask them how they plan to tell your child that he was adopted. You can also ask what they’ll tell your child about you.
You can talk with your child’s future parents about how they’ll talk to your child about adoption. Together, you can discuss how your child’s adoption story will be a part of their life and how you’d like them to tell that story.
If you’d feel more comfortable having your Adoption Coordinator discuss it with the family for you, let her know. She will share your needs with the adoptive couple. And she’ll be able to give them ideas on how they can talk with your child about adoption and about you.
Make a Keepsake for Your Baby
You can share with the adoptive parents what you want your baby to know about you. For example, some birth mothers have created a scrapbook, booklet, or similar keepsake for their child.
Inside, the birth mother writes a letter to her baby and shares things like her hobbies, life, and why she decided on adoption.
If you make a booklet like this, you can also include photos of you, your family, and your baby’s father. You can create an actual booklet or scrapbook, or you can make a digital one through a service like ScrapGirls.com or MyMemories.com.
Once your child grows older, their adoptive parents can give this keepsake to him. Feel free to get as creative as you’d like! This keepsake allows you to tell your child about your love for him and share your history, personality, and reasons for choosing adoption.
The father of your baby can add to your keepsake book too. Or, he could write a letter. You might even invite your family to add to the book, share photos, or write a letter to your baby.
The adoptive parents will treasure the information you’ve provided and share it with your child at an appropriate age. In the homes of Lifetime adoptive parents, the word “adoption” is in their child’s vocabulary early on, and they celebrate adoption.
Talking About Adoption
Whether you choose an open or closed adoption, the adoptive parents will have gratitude and appreciation for you all the same. Your baby will grow up knowing they are loved by both their birth family and adoptive family.
Adopted children today understand what adoption means and how it works. They also understand that adoption was a decision their birth parents made out of unconditional love for them.
If you’d like to learn more about how the adoptive parents will talk to your child about adoption or get answers to any other questions, call or text Lifetime at 1-800-923-6784.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on May 12, 2018, and has since been updated.
Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P., is nationally recognized as an expert on open adoption. A Certiﬁed Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P.), Caldwell is the founder of Lifetime Adoption Center, established in 1986. She has assisted in over 2,000 successful adoptions and was one of the ﬁrst adoption professionals on the Internet.
Caldwell’s life work is dedicated to educating and helping birth parents find the right adoptive parents for their child. She spreads the word about modern adoption through speaking appearances, webinars, online resources, and as a podcast show host.
She has written several award-winning books, including So I Was Thinking About Adoption, the first book of its kind. There are many reasons women choose adoption, and this short book is a comprehensive resource to make the best plan for you and your baby. Caldwell wrote So I Was Thinking About Adoption as a handy guide to the details of the adoption process.
Caldwell has made over 150 media appearances, including ABC News, CBS News, Larry King Live, CNN Headline News, NBC’s The Today Show, CNN’s The Campbell Brown Show, NBC News, KGO Newstalk Radio, CNN’s Black in America II, MSNBC, Fox, PBS, BBC, and Dr. Laura.