Talking to Your Tween about Adoption (page 2)

Talking to Your Tween about Adoption

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Updated on May 21, 2014

Discussions about birth parents should be presented to children in this age group using a positive approach, or at least a neutral one. Preteens are just beginning to develop a personal identity, and judgmental comments about birth parents, even if true, may lead the child to construct negative views about herself.

Most background information can be shared with your child at this point. Birth parent letters, pictures, and birth certificates are ideal items to give to your preteen. Telling age-appropriate stories about her birth parents will help your child fill in the missing pieces of her birth history. Providing these facts will help your child form a complete picture of her biological parents and the circumstances surrounding her birth. It will also reduce the likelihood of filling in gaps with information from her imagination.

On the other hand, there are times when avoiding conversations about adoption is in the best interest of everyone. For example, never make adoption-related comments when angry or arguing. Comments made during this time could further complicate any underlying problems. Likewise, adoption discussions during a crisis or a major life event should be delayed until full attention can be given to the child’s questions and concerns.

Discussions don’t always work out as planned or on the timetable expected. Some adoptees start asking questions earlier than others, some do not talk at all, and others may have an intense curiosity that can only be answered with specific and detailed information. Parents know their child better than anyone else. Ultimately, each parent has to use her own judgment on what is best for her child and the family when talking about adoption.

Danea Gorbett holds an MS in special education. She currently teaches secondary students with emotional impairments. She is also the author of Adopted Teens Only: A Survival Guide to Adolescence.

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