Growing Up Adopted - Parenting Through Developmental Ages & Stages


As children grow, their behavior and understanding of adoption changes. Below, find parenting advice for different developmental ages and stages.

author Gary Matloff with his sons, after adoption and now, as teens

“The Fine Line Between Letting Go and Being Let Go”

“The Fine Line Between Letting Go and Being Let Go”

I adopted my son as he was entering his teen years, and now, too soon, I have seen him off to college. How will his still tenuous attachment play out when I’m no longer a constant, physical presence in his life?

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author Billy Cuchens with his transracially adopted teenage son

“Home Safe Every Night”

Isaac is 14 years old, but he’s six feet tall and almost two hundred pounds. He’s also black. He hasn’t been a discipline problem since the day he came home, but someone who doesn’t know him could see him as a threat. So what was I to do on a recent evening when he asked to bike home alone in the dark?

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three friends sitting on grass, talking about adoption

Parents Share: What My Child’s Friends Want to Know About Adoption

Parents share the questions their children have been asked by friends and classmates over the years, from being in an orphanage to whether they know their "real" parents.

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an adoptive father looks back on his socialy awkward school days, in contrast to his sociable, outgoing son (as his school mascot)

“Life of the Party”

Adoption kismet paired my moody, socially awkward self with an upbeat, sociable son who volunteers to wear his school mascot costume, runs for student council, and is unfazed by the thought of speaking in front of his whole school. Every day I am awed (and exhausted).

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Author Louis De Lauro with his family on their adoption trip and now, with his teenage daughter

“From Then to Now”

I don’t think about adoption on a daily basis; I am just a dad, after all. But when I do, it’s these moments that rise to the surface, indicative of so much else along the way.

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Two preschool children learn about categories.

Celebrating Sameness in Your Family

Help your preschooler process the world around him by pointing out the ways you are alike.

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A transracially adopted boy joking with a friend in class

“But How Did He Know About My Mama?”

When my transracially adopted son was teased about adoption at school, he came home upset—and also bewildered about how his friend could have known. When I heard this (and when it came out that he wasn't wholly innocent in the exchange), was it wrong that my reaction turned from anger to laughter?

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an adoptive mother committed to saying yes and parenting her teenage son with positivity

Just Say “Yes” to Positive Parenting

If you’re parenting an oppositional child or teen, you probably say “no” a lot. You may say it so often that it’s become your default response, or you may be stuck in the perception that “no” is the healthier option. How can you bring positivity back into your parent-child relationship?

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an adoptive mother listens to and learns from her child

Lessons I’ve Learned from My Children

Over decades as a foster and adoptive parent and an adoption social worker, I have mothered and supported hundreds of children. Each one has taught me more than I passed along to them. Here is just some of that wisdom.

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An adoptive mother hugs her preteen daughter after a good talk about adoption

What Do Preteens Think About Adoption?

Before the moody teen years, pre-adolescence can present its own challenges for parents. How should you respond to tweens’ questions about adoption or initiate conversation with a preteen who doesn’t seem eager to talk?

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An adopted teen looks into the distance

Your Job as Consultant and Coach

By talking through possible actions and consequences, you can help your child develop decision-making and long-range thinking skills.

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father's hand placing missing piece in wooden heart tangram puzzle, representing healing after older child adoption

“One of the Missing Pieces”

When older children argue and act out, it’s often connected to events from their past. How could any child move through 14 foster placements unscathed? But last night, another clash, followed by a heart-to-heart, brought us one piece closer to feeling like a solid family.

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A teen adoptee graduates from high school before going to college

3 Tasks for College-Bound Adoptees

"Going to college provides the time and distance for young adult adoptees to experiment with and sort out their own interests and self-expectations."

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Explaining Adoption to Classmates and Teachers

Share Your Story: Adoption & School

We asked our readers: How did you decide whether to introduce the topic of adoption at your child's school? What actions did you take, if any, to start explaining adoption to classmates or teachers? What advice do you have for other parents about how to best interact with your child's teachers?

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