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 mom answers her kids questions about adoption

“An Adoption Game Show”

“An Adoption Game Show”

Conversations about adoption are rarely planned, so parents have to be ready with details at a moment's notice. On a recent evening with my kids, I experienced that times three.

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A mom feeds her son

“How We’re Different, and How We’re The Same”

When talk turns to family traits—who got grandma's curly hair or daddy's big blue eyes—how does our child find her place in the conversation?

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A woman writes an adoption memoir

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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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?”

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