How to teach your non-adopted child about adoption

One sunny afternoon I walked our boys to the playground. They started climbing a jungle gym with two children they didn’t know, and they fell easily into conversation.
“Are you Chinese?” the older child—a girl—asked them. The conversation jumped to adoption, how families are formed, and on and on and on. Our sons fielded the questions, but they left a few for me to handle when they were tired of the conversation and ran off to play elsewhere.
It occurred to me yet again how important it is for my husband and me to prepare our children to answer these questions themselves—especially when they are direct and come from a peer. I can brush off questions from strangers (though it’s not my natural inclination, unless they make our children uncomfortable), but I still need to teach our children that it’s OK to decide whether they want to answer questions from their peers. The truth is, though, that the most difficult questions often come from people who are closest to us because you want to be honest, but not always open.

November is National Adoption Month, and I was thinking, how do parents of children who are not adopted explain adoption to their children? Here are a few pieces of information that might be helpful for those conversations.
  • Some children are raised by the parents who give birth to them, and some children are adopted into their families. Every family is different, but—no matter how they are created—all families are families.
  • Adoption lasts forever. When children are adopted, their parents are promising to love and raise them for the rest of their lives.
  • When parents give birth to a child, sometimes they are not able to raise that child, so they choose adoption. That would be a very big and difficult decision—and one made with love for the child.
  • Not everyone who has been adopted wants to talk about it—or maybe sometimes and not other times. Like with other personal topics, it might be best to wait for your friend to bring it up—and then understand if your friend doesn’t want to tell you everything.
  • A child who is adopted from another country as an infant or young child probably doesn’t speak the language of that country now.
  • The parents of an adopted child love that child so, so much—the same way you love your child.
What questions do you or your children have about adoption?

You might also enjoy:

Why did we decide to adopt?

Starting the adoption journey

Just a moment

Celebrating adoption: the day you meet your child for the first time

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.