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 boy walks outside and thinks about adoption issues in adolescence.

Talking with Your Teen

Talking with Your Teen

Stumped by your teen's silences and questions? Here's how to tackle them.

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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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hourglass and calendar to measure how long it takes to adopt, how to respond when people ask

How Do You Respond to “How Long Did It Take You to Adopt?”

We asked our readers: How do you respond when someone asks you how long it takes to adopt? Read the answers from adoptive parents.

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Teens Speak Out About Open Adoption

Teens Speak Out About Open Adoption

Three adolescents share their experiences with open adoption, and how they feel about their relationships with their birth family.

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"What 'Gotcha Day' Means to My Family"

“What ‘Gotcha’ Means to My Family”

While I acknowledge that the word carries only a hint of the day's complicated meaning, to me, "Gotcha" says it all.

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