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Common Post-Adoption Issues: Talking about Adoption

Kathryn Patricelli, MA

A second class of issues to be addressed involves deciding what to say about the adoption to family, friends, co-workers, and the child him or herself. Who should be told that the adoption has occurred, when they should be told, and what each person should be told about the adoption all need to be worked out. The amount of information that families choose to share varies widely depending on how comfortable they are with sharing details of their private life. It is okay for adoptive parents not to discuss details of their adoption if they choose not to do so. No one should ever feel pressured to share more than feels comfortable.

Many adoptive families decide to tell extended family members and friends about the adoption early on in the process, so that they can gain the support of others as they apply and wait for a child. Other families wait to tell others about their adoption plans until just before a placement occurs. Still others wait until the adoption is completely finalized before they feel safe enough to talk about it.

There are people in the family’s life that should be told about the adoption, however. This includes the pediatrician or family doctor, so that they are aware of a different medical history for the child than that of the adoptive parents. It may be appropriate to tell the child’s teacher when there may be learning or behavioral issues that will have to be dealt with in the classroom. It may also help prepare the teacher for times when the child may mention the adoption such as when talking about their family tree or other family related projects.