Talking About Adoption with Children


Children who joined their families through adoption need to know how adoption works, to feel free to ask questions (and get honest answers), and to learn any details you know about their birth families. Find talking tips below.

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

“One of the Missing Pieces”

“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?”

“Three Real Families”

When my granddaughter asked me if I was the “real” mother of her mom, whom I adopted as an infant, I found a way to help her explore her many real connections, through biology, law, and love.

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A father who adopted older children from foster care shares his story, likening parenting and filling in missing pieces to playing Jenga backward

“Parenting After Foster Adoption—Like Playing Jenga, Backward”

As a father who raised a child from birth and is now parenting older children adopted from foster care, I’ve come to see that the game and pieces may, indeed, be the same, but you have to play in an entirely different way.

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Talking about adoption can lead to some big questions

Answering Kids’ Big Questions About Birth Parents

Between the ages of six and eight, children begin to ask more sophisticated questions about adoption. Here are some ways to respond.

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Cover of I Love You Like Crazy Cakes

Book Review: I Love You Like Crazy Cakes

A seven-year-old adoptee from China shares her thoughts on an illustrated children's book about adoption.

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A mom answers the daddy question after single parent adoption

How to Talk About “Dad” in Single Mother Families

Single-parent homes are more common now, but kids still grapple with the daddy question.

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My son's interpretation of the family tree project for kids

“How We Created My Son’s Unique Family Tree”

The family tree project can be a particularly tricky one for kids who are adopted. Here's how one family tackled the assignment.

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A mother and her transracially adopted teen son share a moment of empathy and connection

Navigating the Teen Years, Part 2: Maintaining Your Emotional Connection

Teens don't tend to talk with their friends about their feelings about being adopted, being teased, or other tough topics. But if you have a healthy, trusting relationship, they'll open up to you. An adoption therapist advises on maintaining an empathic connection with your teen.

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