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How to help your child respond to insensitive questions about adoption

November 4, 2013

kids-at-play-1152328-m“Who is your real mom?” Every adoptive mother and child has heard these questions and cringed. Unfortunately it’s not the only insensitive question about adoption you or your child will face. Children can be rude and at times even cruel. Even when they aren’t intending to be cruel, a child’s curious questions may be uncomfortable for your child. As parents, it is our job to prepare our children for these situations.

You can do many things to prepare you children for questions about adoption. Here are a few pointers to help:

–          Be open to discussing their adoption with your children. If it is an open and comfortable subject at home, children more than likely will not attach a negative or “wrong” stigma to the subject. For young children who love story time, you could create their adoption into a story that is uniquely theirs.

–          Stay relaxed and matter of fact when discussing adoption or your child’s personal adoption story. If you have an attitude that emanates acceptance and comfort about adoption, then when asked questions, your children will respond with a similar attitude.

–          Create an ally in your child’s teacher. Discuss some of the words to use around your child like instead of saying “real mother” use “birth mother.” Also, encourage the teacher to include adoption in some of his or her lessons or offer to be a guest speaker one day. The more children know about adoption, the more they will understand.

–          Plan ahead with your children. By creating scenarios of questions that could be asked and role playing with your children, they will feel more prepared for the questions inquisitive children at school will ask. Also, explain to your children that although many questions come across as rude or insensitive, most children are simply curious.  When questions like “Who is your real mom?” arise, your children will already have an answer like, “My mom is my real mom, but my birth mother is from Poland. She still lives there.”

–          Let your child know that it is okay to not answer some questions. Help her or him come up with some sentences to use when uncomfortable questions arise. For example, “That is personal” or “I do not want to discuss that right now” are good options. Understand that every child is different. While some children may feel perfectly comfortable discussing their adoption, others may not.

Although it is impossible to prepare your child for every situation they will encounter, these helpful tips can prevent many hurtful and uncomfortable situations for them. Be sure to create a place of acceptance and security with you.

If you have any questions on this topic, please contact us.  Also, if you have any tips of your own, please share them! We would love to learn more from you.