How to Talk About and Explain Adoption


Sample language, conversation guidelines, and other expert advice to help you explain adoption to your child, and answer questions from family, friends, and others.

A woman writes an adoption memoir

Once Upon a Time: Writing Your Adoption Stories

Once Upon a Time: Writing Your Adoption Stories

Many parents are putting their adoption stories in writing. Whether you publish or not, here's how to create a moving, quality memoir.

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Author Karen Hindhede and her daughter through domestic open adoption

“‘Trashy’ Parents?”

At a recent gathering, an acquaintance made a comment based on the astonishingly misguided and downright vulgar assumption that my child’s birth parents are unworthy or subpar. Here’s how I responded.

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a mother on talking with her African-American daughter about racism in the U.S.

The Talk: Revealing the Realities of Racism to My African-American Child

Growing up in Trinidad, I didn’t use the word black to describe myself. But as the mother of two black children in the U.S., I walk the fine line of raising them to believe they are capable and worthy while understanding that everyone in this country has been taught to discount their value.

Adoption Experts answer your questions.

Ask AF: How to Share Sad News About a Birth Parent?

“When my daughter was in her teens, we sent a letter to her birth mother via our adoption agency, but never heard back. Yesterday, I got a social media message from her birth mother’s sister, which shared sad news. How do I break this news to my daughter?”

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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Adoptive parents share the adoption misconceptions they've encountered

“I Can’t Believe She Just Said That!” – Biggest Adoption Misconceptions

Parents share the biggest false beliefs about adoption that they've encountered, from 'love heals all' to 'your child is lucky' to 'now you'll get pregnant!'

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A phone call cemented a mother and daughter bond.

“This Is For Real”

An unexpected emergency tests the strength of a mother-daughter bond.

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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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Adoption Experts answer your questions.

Ask AF: When a Child Questions Adoption vs. Biology

“Recently, my 12-year-old has been questioning whether an adoptive mother can really love her children as she would biological children. She’ll say things like, ‘You think you love us, but you would love a child you gave birth to more. How should I talk with her about this?”

How do adoptive parents respond when told, "Your child looks just like you!"

Parent-to-Parent: “Your Child Looks Just Like You!”

We asked our readers how they respond when someone comments that their child "looks just like" them. Read the answers.

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Two girls work together on a project during adoption classes.

Adoption Workshops: A Place Where Kids Can Share

Sometimes our children learn from one another. Adoption classes offer them a special environment to do just that.

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A young refugee, sponsored by a family

“You Have Thousands of Angels Around You”

How one young woman lost her family, survived a war, escaped two continents, and through the kindness of strangers found a lifelong home in Atlanta.

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