Everyone involved in the adoption process can have difficulty understanding the situation. Despite whatever adoption triad member you are, somewhere down the line, this conversation will come to the surface. Particularly for birth parents, explaining adoption to their older children can be an emotionally trying and tough situation.
The exact age of your child and kind of relationship you have is important to keep in mind when deciding how to approach the conversation. Above all, being transparent with your child will be the most important element within the conversation. Assuring trust and honesty between your child and you will strengthen the relationship. It will also set an example to maintain transparency within the future. To help your conversation go smoother, consider the following:
Make it a point to explain the situation in its entirety to your child. Provide all of the details within the situation so that nothing seems unclear. Essentially, tell your child why. Despite whatever reason influenced your decision to place your new baby for adoption, your explanation should be immensely transparent. This transparency will reveal a level of realness you share with your child that will overpower any negative assumption they might have conducted otherwise.
Respond to Questions
There are situational factors that will determine how the conversation should be approached. Your child’s personality, age, etc., can affect their understanding of the situation. In other words, your child could either understand completely or be confused. However, the majority of the time, children will be in that in-between area, where they understand some things, but could still have questions. That area requires more explanation about the situation. Ensure that all of your child’s questions are answered. As a result, you will both be on the same page going forward.
After explaining the situation and answering your child’s questions, it’s important to prepare for the aftermath. You just dropped a huge news bomb on your child. They might develop new questions or want more explanations in the future. Preparing for the future will help maintain that smooth, transparent conversation flow that you both established. An example of demonstrating future transparency would be involving your child in the updates the adoptive family might share with you. This would only occur in an open adoption, but it’s important to note the honesty you would be exposing your child to.
Here to Help
Though this is a difficult situation, you are not alone. Social workers are always available to give advice. Amanda Aliberti, an adoption counselor, from AFTH, says, “We recommend the book, ‘Sam’s Sister’ by Juliet C. Bond. It does a great job of explaining to children what happens to the baby that was inside of mommy’s belly. We offer this as a resource to birthparents that are struggling with this topic. We always recommend being open/honest with ‘other children’ about the adoption plan, at age-appropriate levels. Kids are very smart and very quick to catch on. It is also very important that birth parents make their child, that they are parenting, still feel protected and safe. They do not want that child to feel that they too, will be placed for adoption. Using positive adoption language is another important key, in this discussion.”
Want to keep reading?
Check out more AFTH blog posts: