Talking About Adoption - Explaining Difficult Details


Children need to know all the aspects of their adoption stories, but parents may not know how to explain some details. Below, find expert advice on talking about tough adoption topics, such as poverty, criminal behavior, abandonment, abuse or neglect.

Adoption Experts answer your questions.

Ask AF: How to Tell My Son That I Can’t Adopt His Biological Sister?

Ask AF: How to Tell My Son That I Can’t Adopt His Biological Sister?

An adoptive mother explores adopting her son’s biological sister, but realizes she wouldn’t be able to meet the child’s medical needs. She seeks advice on how to tell her son.

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?”

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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family watches an adoption movie they'll use to start adoption conversations at home

Adoption at the Movies

Films with adoption or foster care storylines, or with themes of separation, identity, or belonging, can spark tough, must-have conversations with your children. Ready to start watching—and talking? Start with one of these recommendations.

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A mother comforting a child who was exposed to violence

8 Ways to Help Your Kids Deal with Violence

When children are exposed to violence—in their first home, at school, or in the media—it's our job as parents to help them process it. Here's how.

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Dealing with the loss of a grandparent

Dealing with Loss of a Grandparent

Often, the loss of a grandparent will be your child's first experience with death. If a child is close to her grandparent, the loss will be that much harder.

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Kids need to piece together their adoption stories

Sharing Difficult Details with Your Child

Experts offer talking tips and sample language for discussing neglect, abuse, abandonment, and other painful parts of your child's adoption story.

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A daughter curious about her birth parents

“Googling Her Birth Parents”

Would it really be possible to fill out my daughter's hazy memories by typing names into a search engine?

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Talking about birth parents' drug or alcohol abuse can be tough

Explaining a Birth Parent’s Drug or Alcohol Abuse

"How can we explain birth family's drinking or drug use?" Older child adoption expert Gregory Keck, Ph.D. answers a reader's question.

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A mother explaining her teen's adoption story

Answering Tough Questions

As your teen's thinking becomes more sophisticated, she'll want to know more about her adoption.

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Talking about adoption to your adopted child

Telling the Tough Stuff

Here's how to tell your child the difficult facts about his adoption in positive, age-appropriate ways...and how to keep the conversation going.

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