Ask AF: Contacting Birth Siblings

When is your child old enough to be introduced to the idea of birth siblings?

Q: Our 10-year-old daughter recently asked if she has any brothers or sisters. She does have birth siblings, but we didn’t know how to answer her. Is she old enough to know about them, or to meet them?


A: Adopted children usually enjoy having relationships with their birth siblings, and they frequently refer to them as “my sister” or “my brother” It will be OK for your daughter to use these terms because this is how she will think of them. Children can’t have too many people in their lives who love them!

Ten is actually a good age to talk with your daughter about her birth family and for her to have direct contact with them. It’s best to share any information related to adoption with a child before her adolescence.

Meeting the birth family in person or having other direct contact helps, because children always fare better with concrete information than with abstract concepts (which is what the terms “birth mother” and “birth siblings” are if the child has no people to attach to those words).

My book, Children of Open Adoption, describes many cases of adoptive parents initiating direct contact between the child and his or her birth family around this age.


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