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How to Tell Your Children Their Birth Parents Weren’t Perfect

January 20, 2015

Each adoption is unique. For some, the relationship with the birthparents is open, loving, and beautiful. Others experience a closed adoption for various reasons, some of which could be issues with drugs or a situation involving rape or assault. As adults, we understand that not every person or situation is perfect, but how do you explain that to your children, especially when discussing their biological parents?


We know this is a difficult discussion to have with your children. Just as every adoption is unique, every child is equally as unique. Take that into consideration when deciding when or what to tell your kids about their birth parents.


-Age and Emotional Maturity: Each child grows -mentally and physically- at different rates. Before embarking on a very difficult discussion about their past, consider their ability to cope with that information.


-Consider the questions: Remember that you are speaking with a child. Tom Velie offers this example, “A child walks up to her mother and asks “What’s sex?” The mother responds with an in depth explanation about the birds and the bees to which the child responds, “So do I mark male or female?” Not every question means what you think it means. Don’t answer questions that haven’t been asked. Instead, clarify what they want to know by asking what they think about the question.


-Is it Beneficial: Will this information hurt or benefit my child? Your child doesn’t have to know everything right away and some information he or she may never really need to know. Ask yourself if the information about his or her past will be beneficial at this point in her or his life.


-Don’t speak in anger: We know how hard parenting can be. Children get angry (especially those pesky teenagers), then parents get angry. Often things are said that shouldn’t be repeated. Remember that once something is said, you cannot take it back. Be careful what you reveal in a moment of elevated emotions. “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20

Being open with your child about their adoption is extremely important. (Check out our blog explaining why.) They have a right to know their story before coming to their forever family, but you don’t have to tell them everything about that story at one time. Whether you decide to tell your children everything about their birth parents or if you decide to go in a different direction, we hope this article helps you with this important decision. For more information on sharing your child’s adoption story with them and the rest of the world, read our blog. If you need further help, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 662-842-6752.