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”I was so intrigued by the list that I made it a permanent part of my adoption workshops. ” But in the same breath I realized that just because a parent has all the answers does not necessarily mean they know how to comfortably approach delicate subjects with their children.

I recently met an adoptive mother who claimed she could provide all 30 answers to her child. In fact, having a lot of information might be just as challenging, at different stages in the child’s life, as having none.

I had never seen anyone get in trouble for asking about his or her birth family.

Yet I knew it did not feel right to bring up the subject.

Your child might be more outgoing, wanting to chat about adoption at every chance.

Respecting and honoring these differences will help your child take ownership of his or her story. You can’t be all things to your child at all times.



Of course my child knows and will always know he can to talk to me about his birth family.” One challenge of open adoption is to remember that even children who know and love their birthparents go through stages in their lives when issues of loyalty flair up.Some answers may be more appropriate coming directly from the birthparents. Birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and school projects (family trees, for example, or an assignment to bring baby pictures from home) are occasions that might be difficult for adopted children.Be alert to how your child is feeling and behaving.If you are struggling with a topic, it might be helpful to consult a therapist about the best way to approach the issue. If your child comes to you with a tough question, he or she has probably thought about it a long time before working up the nerve to ask. Different from a scrapbook, a lifestory book is your child’s adoption story told in words and pictures.


One resource for understanding age appropriateness is the article “Adoption and the Stages of Development,” published by the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse. A good rule of thumb is that if you think your child will say, “I remember the day my parents told me ____” about a particular adoption issue, you have waited too long. It helps the child and the parents talk about adoption and keep the facts straight. Several great resources can help you get started with lifestory books, including “Lifebooks: Creating a Treasure for the Adopted Child,” by Beth O’Malley, and workshops I lead through Adoption Mosaic. When possible, work as a team with your children’s birthparents, deciding together when and how to answer your child’s questions.Yet they also call into play some very emotionally loaded subjects.



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