Ask AF: Relative Adoption

How should you explain relative adoption to your adopted child?

Adoption Experts answer your questions.

Q: How and when can I explain what adoption means to a child who was adopted from a relative? This relative remains a vital member of our family and has a relationship with my daughter as her “aunt.” And should I explain her connection to her aunt when we explain adoption?


A: Talk about adoption as you would if the child had not been adopted from a relative. Start the conversation with something like, “I (we) wanted a baby, but couldn’t have one. Your birth mother was growing a baby in her womb but wasn’t able to be a mommy at that time. She found us and now you are our baby forever.”

Soon after you explain the adoption story, you should let her know that her “aunt” is her birth mother. The longer you wait to tell, the harder it gets to figure out the “right time” to do so. If you wait and she finds out elsewhere, she may feel foolish for not knowing the truth sooner and reluctant to trust you again for a while.


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