|Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on September 7, 2018 at 11:40 AM|
Experts recommend that adoptive parents begin to talk to their child about adoption from infancy. This helps the adoptive family to become familiar with using positive adoption language, practice sharing the child’s adoption story and create adoption to be a normal, household term. By talking about adoption from an early age, the child will grow up always being aware of the concept, making adoption a natural experience and way to create a family.
During infancy, parents can demonstrate a positive association with the word adoption during this time, similar to the phrase “I love you.” This can be done while cuddling and caring for your baby and saying statements like “We are so happy we adopted you and that we are a family.” Also, parents can share positive adoption language information with their family and friends. This will further create an environment that is supportive and nurturing to your child. Download our Positive Adoption Language handout.
Key concepts during early childhood:
Parent’s discussions about adoption and responses to their child’s questions should be age/developmentally appropriate. At this age (3-6 years old), a child is curious and is starting to use cognitive and language skills to explore the world around them. They often have short attention spans, therefore he/she may be satisfied with simple, direct responses to questions they ask.
During these years, parents should teach their child basic concepts about family types and the various ways families can be created, highlighting the creation of a family through adoption. This can be done by telling the child the following:
- “Every baby is born to a man and a woman.”
- “Families are made in many ways - Babies can live with the family they were born in, and babies can live with the family that adopts them.”
- “Sometimes a woman can’t have a baby, so she adopts a baby.”
- “Sometimes a mom and a dad can’t take care of a baby who is born to them, so they find another family to raise their child.”
- “Sometimes families adopt children from far away.”
- Use tangible objects - Young children are best able to understand more complex concepts when they can use one (or more) of their 5 senses: see, hear, touch, taste, or smell. Parents can use this approach with their child in the following ways:
- Read children’s books together that have a focus on adoption stories, family types, and diversity. Visit our website for a list of children's books we recommend.
- Pictures - Share with your child Birthparent/family photos, photos from initial contact/match period with birthparents, photos from hospital stay, photos from visits with birthparents, etc.
- Drawing pictures - This can be helpful if there is not availability to pictures of the birthparents and child wants to imagine what they look like.
- Create a Lifebook or Personalized Adoption Story Book- The best story in the whole world to a young child is “The Story of How You Got Me.”
- When talking with your child, Reflect and Repeat what your child says. Paraphrasing your child’s words demonstrates that you are paying attention and are interested.
- Discuss and offer your child concrete ways of expressing feelings. This can be done in the following ways:
- Teach your child about feelings and how to express them.
- Read children’s books with your child that teach feelings/emotions, healthy ways to express anger, and positive self-esteem. Download our recommended reading list.
- Suggest to your child to write a letter to a birthparent to send or to put in a special place.
- Have child draw a picture for the birthparent and send or put in a special place.
- Use dolls or puppets to act out feelings or to ask questions.
- Direct contact with Birthparents makes adoption concrete and real.
Creating a open and honest space for your child that allows him/her to freely explore, ask questions, and understand their adoption story will strengthen family bonds and relationships as well as allow your child to develop a secure, healthy identity. The discussion of adoption and your child’s story is not a one time conversation, rather ongoing discussions and your child’s understanding will continue to evolve as your child ages. We encourage families educate themselves through books, podcasts, community resources, and seeking the guidance of an qualified adoption professional/counselor.
We offer support sessions for adoptive families during the adoption process as well as counseling for adoptive parents and children post-adoption. Visit our website for additional information or contact us today. Email: email@example.com or Phone: (813) 658-8071.