Ask AF: Telling Children About a Birth Child

How do you tell your child he has a biological sibling he never knew about?

Q: I placed a child for adoption before starting my present family. How do I explain to my 6-year-old that he has a biological sibling living in another state?


A: Ideally, a child grows up knowing about a sibling from the earliest age. When you tell your child about his sibling, remember that children are literal, and avoid phrases such as “give up for adoption.”

Reassure your child that while placing his sibling for adoption was the best decision for him, you will be his parent forever. This is important, as many children wonder if they will also be placed.

Your child may also need reassurance that his sibling is OK, or go through a period in which he wishes that he lived with the sibling.

Whenever possible, a real relationship between siblings should be supported. It’s best to focus on all the children affected by an adoption, not just the child who was placed.

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