Ask AF: Sharing Difficult Birth Parent Information

The urge to protect our children can incline us to withhold difficult birth parent information until adulthood — but most experts and adoptees agree this isn't the best route.

Q: My 20-year-old daughter often asks me about her birth mother. The information I have is bleak, and I’m reluctant to share it until my daughter completes college. What should I do?


A: I understand your wish to protect your daughter. However, this can backfire, and your daughter may not forgive you for withholding information about her birth mother. Your daughter is an adult, and she deserves all of the information that you have. I recommend that all information be shared with children before they reach the teenage years. I think it’s important to tell your daughter what you know now.

I appreciate your worry about the birth mother’s possible instability or other problems. But, in fact, it’s easier for children to understand their birth mother’s adoption decision if they know about her problems. Your daughter is old enough to understand what you share with her. She knows who her mom is — you!


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