Adoptive Families, the award-winning national adoption magazine, is the leading adoption information source for families before, during, and after adoption.


Get Talking!

Adoptive Families' guide to talking about adoption

No matter how old your child is, you can be sure that adoption is something he thinks about. And what about his classmates and friends?

We’ve compiled a list of our best resources that will help you talk to your child and other people about adoption—Clip-and-Save guides, advice on discussing sensitive details, answering your child's first questions, helping your adolescent open up, and more.

Plus: See our guide to talking to 6- to 8-year-olds.

Where to Start:

  • Talking With Children About Adoption, by Barbara Russell
    Is it what you say, how early you say it, or how often you say it that matters most to your child?
  • Talking Matters, by Lois Melina
    If you look like your child, you may be spared inquisitive glances or nosy questions about adoption from strangers. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to discuss the topic.
  • Birds, Bees, and Adoption, by Marybeth Lambe
    Explaining reproduction is tough for all parents, and itís even more complex for us. Hereís help.

Talking to Non-Adoptees:

  • Explaining Adoption to Classmates
    Distribute this handout to other parents at your child's school, or send it home with his classmates after an adoption presentation.
  • How I Explained Adoption to the First Grade, by Amy Klatzkin
    A downloadable PDF that includes a list of useful resources about adoption and school, and tips for talking about adoption in the classroom.
  • Talking Tips, by Carrie Krueger
    10 tips for talking about adoption and preparing your child to talk to others, especially in school.
  • "Why Do You Ask?"
    Adoptive parents and siblings recount intrusive questions they've been asked—and how they responded.

Talking to Kids Under Five

  • Budding Curiosity, by Joni S. Mantell, LCSW
    Between the ages of three and five, children love hearing the story of how you became a family, and begin to ask their first, simple questions about adoption.
  • How to Talk to Your Three-to-Five-Year-Old About Adoption
    The classic AF Clip-and-Save Guide offers strategies, a sample conversation, and some recommended reading.
  • Where Did You Get Those Dimples?
    AF readers share their tips for answering strangers' questions.
  • Let’s Play Adoption, by Susan Tompkins
    Fantasy play can be a comfortable way to explore adoption issues with your child.
  • Did I Come From Your Tummy?, by JoAnne Solchany, R.N., Ph.D.
    The dos and don'ts of answering your preschooler’s first adoption questions
  • Tummy Talk, by Carol Peacock
    Your three-year-old’s fascination with families is the perfect opportunity to talk about adoption.

As They Grow Up: Continuing the Discussion

  • The Big Questions, by JoAnne Solchany, Ph.D., ARNP
    Between the ages of six and eight, children begin to understand adoption in a more sophisticated way--and will pose some questions you may have a hard time answering.
  • Need to Know
    Six- to eight-year-olds have real questions about their birthparents. Here are seven tips to help parents answer them.
  • Talking to Your Six-to-Eight-Year-Old About Adoption
    Visit our online guide, then check out the classic AF Clip-and-Save Guide for some tips and affirming activities.
  • Talking About Adoption with Your Nine- to 12-Year-Old, by Susan Saidman
    How to keep the adoption conversation going during the preteen years.
  • A Growing Awareness, by Joni S. Mantell, LCSW
    Between the ages of nine and 12, children register the meaning of adoption--and this can bring harder questions and more complex emotions.
  • When Kids Deny Their Adoption, by Jayne Schooler
    When all your child wants to do is fit in with his peers, she may attempt to cover up the truth. Here are tips to help him through this phase.
  • Mommy, Where Did I Come From?, by Holly van Gulden and Lisa Bartels-Rabb
    Acknowledging your child’s ethnic heritage is not enough. It’s crucial that you talk to your six-to-eight-year-old about her birthparents.
  • Helping Teens Talk About Adoption Issues, by Frank Kunstal
    Your adolescent’s daily life is filled with enough challenges to security and self-esteem. It’s up to you to get communication flowing.
  • 6 Questions Every Adopted Teen Wants Answered, by Debbie Riley
    Adolescents demand fuller and more factual answers to their adoption questions. In this excerpt from Beneath the Mask, we take a look at what goes on in the minds of teens, and offer advice for talking with them.

Dealing with Sensitive Topics

  • Telling the Tough Stuff, by Lee Tobin McClain, Ph.D.
    Here’s how to tell your child the difficult facts about his adoption in positive, age-appropriate ways...and how to keep the conversation going.
  • Telling the Truth to Your Adopted or Foster Child, by Jayne Schooler
    Your adolescent’s daily life is filled with enough challenges to security and self-esteem. It’s up to you to get communication flowing.

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