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.

A teen adoptee sees a therapist after her parents' divorce.

When Parents Divorce

When Parents Divorce

The breakup of a family can be especially hard for adopted teens. Here's why.

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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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Adoption Experts answer your questions.

Ask AF: How Do We Tell Our Teen Tough Information?

Our daughter’s birth mother committed suicide several years ago. We’ve never told our daughter, who’s now 13 and in a rebellious phase. I just read something that said you should tell your children whatever you know about their adoptions before the teen years, but we can’t go back in time to do so. Should we tell her now, or wait until she’s older?

troubled birth parent

Keeping an Adoption Open Despite Challenges

Five moms candidly reveal how they’re honoring their commitment to openness when their child’s birth parent struggles with substance abuse, mental illness, or is experiencing crisis.

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father and daughter talking about adoption outside

Adoptees and the Seven Core Issues of Adoption

Adopted persons tend to experience seven core issues related to their adoption. Discussions of adoption over the years have often overlooked the pain and struggles of adoptees, but identifying these core issues and helping children integrate them as they grow validates their experiences, decreasing feelings of being different and isolated.

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Adoption Experts answer your questions.

Ask AF: Sharing Negative Information

My nine-year-old daughter was adopted as an infant. She's been asking me about her birth parents, so I searched. I was devastated by the information I found, and have no idea when and how to reveal the details. Her birth mother died from complications due to alcoholism; her birth father has done time in prison and is now AWOL.

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