Ask AF: Talking About and Getting to Know Birth Siblings

An adoptive parent asked our expert how (and if) she should tell her son about his birth siblings.

Q: My 11-year-old has two younger birth siblings who were adopted by another family. That family recently moved into our community. My son often asks if he has siblings. I have not told him yes or no yet, and now it’s so late. (I do not believe the siblings know they have a brother, either.) Do I tell him that he has siblings—and that they live about a mile away?

A: No matter what the other family chooses to do, you need to tell your son the truth. You can say, “I know you have been asking and, yes, you do have at least two birth siblings. I was waiting because I thought you were not old enough to understand [or whatever your reason was].” My therapeutic workbook, The Confusing World of Brothers, Sisters and Adoption, might help him process his feelings.Have you spoken with the other family? They may be open to visiting. If they are, you should meet them. It is always good to have more people in your life.

Do not wait one more day to tell your son about his siblings; there will be no “perfect time.” If you don’t tell, the kids could meet on their own at school, at church, at baseball practice, at Scouts, and so on, and figure out their connection. And if your son finds out that you knew and did not tell him, it will be a major breach of trust.

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