How do I tell my son who his birth parents are?

Brandi - posted on 10/01/2009 ( 15 moms have responded )

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My son is almost a year old and I know he is too young to understand but I can't stop thinking about it. We adopted him at birth from my husbands cousin. We are a very close family so the birth parents are very involved in his life. We know we want him to grow up knowing he was adopted but not sure we want him to know who his biological parents are for fear of it interferring with our relationship with him. He calls his birthparents by aunt and uncle but I am so afraid that is goig to confuse him or crush him when he finally does find out who they are. Is there anyone out there in this situation or anyone gone throught this before? How did you handle it?

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[deleted account]

We started talking to our kids about their adoption from the very beginning. We found reading books extremely helpful. There are several on the market for children, such as one by Mr. Rogers that is so sweet. There are also several for parents to read that can help you choose the right words. Check Perspective Press for titles.

Stephanie - posted on 01/09/2010

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I was adopted my parents used to tell me the story as a bed time story I was always very well accepting of this fact maybe you could try that? I have always loved my adoptive parents and they are my mom and dad no matter who gave me the dna I do have a relationship with my biological mother I was adopted within the family so she is my aunt now and I know that I can always lean on her for support but my mom is still my mom and my biological mom is my aunt to me

Wendy - posted on 01/06/2010

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Hi Brandi~Congratulations on your adoption first of all. My husband and I have been blessed to have formed our family through adoption also. We have 4 children, our oldest son joined our family at birth via a family members friend (he's now 16), our oldest daughter joined us at 4 months via an open adoption where the birth mother selected us (she's now 14), our youngest daughter was 5 (now 13) and her biological brother was 3 (now 11) when they finished out the family. From day one we began talking about adoption with our kids, obviously at birth they haven't got an idea what your saying but more so as a rehersal for us as life progressed. We became comfortable with using the words adoption, birth mom/dad, and just how we would share the story of how each of them came to us. Our kids were so familiar with the words probably long before they ever really understood what the meaning of them were. It seems to me that sometimes we tend to give more information then we have to. Kids will ask a question and we feel the need to explain in detail and give all the info we know when all we have to do is answer the question and move on..KISS (keep it simple silly)!! As time goes on you are comfortable and the kids are comfortable and if they want to know more they will ask...I think all you have to share at the beginning is that they are adopted, you love them and so did their birth parents but they just weren't/aren't ready to be parents. And you are so luck to have them and they are also lucky to have you in their lives. As time goes on and they begin to ask questions then answer them honestly, they will have more respect for you and feel comfortable enough to ask futher questions if THEY feel the need. Any thoughts or questions I'd love to hear from you. Good luck:)
Wendy

[deleted account]

Everyone is different, but I have been reading adoption books to my 5 year old son since he was a baby. He knows he was in Natalie's tummy and that her family is his family, but I am not sure he really "gets it" yet. When my 7 month old son (also adopted) was born, I think things started to fall into place a little bit because he knows that the baby was not in my tummy, it was in someone else's. He has seen pregnant woman, including friends and family, but it doesn't seem to phase him one way or another because we have been talking about it for so long.



At the end of the day, it is your choice how to tell your child, but eventually he will find out (especially since this is a familial adoption). You might be surpried how non-confusing the information would be for a young child since they tend to accept things at face value.

Cindy - posted on 01/02/2010

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I do not have much to add, except the more natural you are about how your family was made, the more your child will be. My two daughters are adopted, and 3 of the 4 birthparents are facebook friends of mine. I NEVER thought that would happen when I first heard of open adoption 13 years ago when we first started the process. I have a close friend who's 10 year old son's birthmother regularly attends all his big events, as well as soccer games, etc. He calls her by her first name, but is very clear that she is his birthmother. The moment he heard she was expecting a baby, he cheered, "Now I will have a sister!" He does not treat the baby like he treats his brother. He does not have the relationship with his birthmother that he has with his mom... he understands the difference, feels loved and is very, very much a part of his family.

However, that being said, it is very important that you get permission from the birthparents on what and when you tell your son. One of our "birthparents" does not want their children to know, so we have not told that child she has birth siblings. I respect her wishes, she is the one who made the sacrifice. This is especially since they are a part of your family circle.

Becky - posted on 12/30/2009

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Good for you for pre-thinking! We have adopted a sibling group of 6... ages 11 to 1. While the big kids understand more than I do most the time, the little ones are as clueless as babies should be. We tell the little ones they are adopted, grew in mom-R's tummy because my belly is broken, and are so glad they get to live with us and be our babies too! While they don't understand, they are hearing it and know they can talk about it at any time! Even the 2 year old proudly says, "Me dopped!" He's close!!!

Your son grew in Aunt D's tummy. I'd tell your son you are thankful for letting him grow safely in her belly and then be your son. The simpler you state it, the less confusing it'll be. Make no mistake, he WILL find out eventually. If you hide it, he might resent you for lying (by ommission) to him.

I'd keep your information positive and age-appropriate. I'd start telling your son the story NOW. The more often you tell him, the more relaxed you'll become. He won't remember what you say at this age, but you will became more comfortable with the subject.

Best of luck!

Gidgit - posted on 12/30/2009

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Quoting Leeanne:

I told my daughter when she was about 3yrs old........I had a friend that was pregnant at the time and that started the conversation on being adopted from that!
On the way home I said to her " so whos belly do you think you were made in? "
she came up with many friends names she even said grandma! so funny
Then I just said Nope you were made in "Jordans belly" & when you were born you came home to live with mummy and daddy!
It was so easy! she is now 5 yrs old and has no problem what so ever on being adopted.
she likes to tell people she was made in Jordans belly because mummy's belly is broken; I was made in mummy's heart because thats where all the love is.
Keep it simple for their age and as they get older you can tell them more! he is very young at the moment and wouldnt understand so maybe wait a year. Books are great too!
Good luck



This is the theroy we are wanting to use with our daughter. My sister is her birthmom and my daughter has 5 half siblings. The only problem with our situation is that my sisters other children do not know about my daughter. They will be the ones most hurt by this because my sister does not want her other children or ex husband to know about the circumstances around the conception of my daughter.



So we will tell Niki that she grew in aunti Kris's tummy because mommy could not have a baby in her tummy.  Leeanne I love the "I was made in mummy's heart because that's where all the love is"! I may borrow that!



Good luck to you Brandi...Don't fear telling your little one. Also Check out www.adoption.com in the adoptionshop for books on how to tell a small child!

Leeanne - posted on 12/29/2009

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I told my daughter when she was about 3yrs old........I had a friend that was pregnant at the time and that started the conversation on being adopted from that!
On the way home I said to her " so whos belly do you think you were made in? "
she came up with many friends names she even said grandma! so funny
Then I just said Nope you were made in "Jordans belly" & when you were born you came home to live with mummy and daddy!
It was so easy! she is now 5 yrs old and has no problem what so ever on being adopted.
she likes to tell people she was made in Jordans belly because mummy's belly is broken; I was made in mummy's heart because thats where all the love is.
Keep it simple for their age and as they get older you can tell them more! he is very young at the moment and wouldnt understand so maybe wait a year. Books are great too!
Good luck

Mischelle - posted on 11/20/2009

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i have many friends and family that adopted siblings children and i have to tell you that if you are honest from the beginning with age appropriate information from the beginning then you are less likely to have problems. just answer honestly and with love and although it will seem difficult at the time to you to the child they will love you and come to you with their questions not the street or anyone else nor will they doubt your answers or love for them. please read all you can for the books do help in how best to phrase answers and how to set up your first discussions. i adopted my children from birth and the books helped me alot. my children and i talk about everything now which is a good thing when they have questions. good luck!

Sherrie - posted on 11/10/2009

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I have heard of couples adopting through their family. I think that is a wonderful idea, especially because you know the medical history. Within a family, these things have a way of coming out. It will hurt him more if he finds out later, by accident through another family member, than through you and your husband. I think you should be honest with him about being adopted and even who his birthparents are. I don't think I would hit him with everything at once. They say around 4 yrs old is a good time to talk with your child about being adopted. Also reassure him that both his birthparents and you and your husband love him very much. I know they have books out on the subject of how to tell your child they're adopted. I haven't read any yet, my daughter is still a little too young to understand. He probably won't have a lot of questions at that age. However, as he gets older and he has more questions, just answer them the best you can. Just be honest.
Everyone in the family knows my daughter who is 19 months old is adopted. We use the word adoption frequently, for we want her to know she's adopted. We feel it's better to be honest with her so she knows that honesty is not a bad thing. We can't expect her to be honest with us, if we lie to her. However, we did not adopt through our family. But, I know someone that did, and there daughter found out at 16 yrs old, that not only was her aunt her birthmother, that her cousins were half siblings. This devestated her and it took her a long time to get over it. She found out by accident at a family get together when someone slipped, and made a comment about how you can tell they're siblings.

Heather - posted on 11/07/2009

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Hi Brandi, I'm not personally in your situation either. My sister got married to her husband when her son was two. He is not his biological dad. They have since had two more kids together. The two younger boys look a lot like their dad who is Hispanic. Her oldest looks like her and his bio dad, blonde blue eyes.... He's 10 now and I don't think she meant to keep it from him but the "right time" never came up. Meanwhile, the rest of the family has not been allowed to talk to him about it. She finally told him a few mos ago and we are still not allowed to talk to him about it. She does not want him to have any details about his biological dad. I think the secrecy gives the situation a bad taste. It is what it is and nothing can change the facts. But trying to sweep it under the rug just makes it look like a bad thing. So far he has taken it pretty well as far as we know but I don't know what will happen when he becomes a teenager and is forming his identity. My husband and I adopted our kids and we are very open about it. It is so nice to not have to watch what we say around the kids to other people. My youngest is 3 and he knows he was adopted because "We needed a little boy to love and watch grow, and your biological mom couldn't take care of you." I don't know how much he gets about it, but he does ask. And he'll be able to process it as he needs to. I think it's beautiful that your son had family to take care of him when his biological parents couldn't. Focus on the positive and leave the rest as facts. He'll have a whole family to support him as he grows up and has questions. Don't worry, just be his mommy. :o)

Jessica - posted on 11/03/2009

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I would definitely not keep it from him. He may find out when he older and then feel betrayed. We see our birth mom often at church, and our son is too young (18 mos.) right now, but he will know who she was and why she is a special person to all of us as he grows. I want every aspect to be open to him so that there are no secrets/surprises that are traumatizing to him later. Good luck!

Rachel - posted on 10/10/2009

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I believe you should start telling your son as soon as possible who his birth parents are. There are books that tell about open adoption stories (http://www.mycreationsbooks.com/) or you can make one of your own through something like snapfish. That is what we are doing for our son.

From everything that I've heard about open adoptions is that the only people who get confused by it is the grownups. Adoption can be difficult no matter what, but I think honesty is the best policy, and it is best that he always knows his story rather than be shocked by it when he's old enough to understand.

Good luck!

Cowcntry - posted on 10/02/2009

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I haven't gone through that situation, but we adopted our son through a private adoption agency. It was an open adoption. From the time he was around 2 we talked to him about being adopted. He is now 6 and understands he came from another ladys tummy because mommy couldn't have any babies. All I know is I feel better that he knows he is adopted. You would be surprised. Maybe if you explain why he was adopted and all this was done in love, he is still going to call you mommy. I wish you the best of luck. Sorry I couldn't help you out.

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