Q: My 6-year-old son was conceived from sexual abuse, and we are struggling with how to handle information about his birth father. He hasn’t asked questions yet, but he will. We want him to know the truth, but what can we say to a child his age and how can we tell him?
A: There are other adoptive families with difficult birth father situations, so you are by no means alone.
Most 6-year-olds don’t ask about birth fathers, as they don’t yet understand the role of men in reproduction. Still, introduce the topic now. You can tell your son that someone close to his birth mother didn’t always know how to express love nicely.
Later, as he approaches adolescence, you can explain that his birth father thought it was okay to have sexual relations with his birth mother, even though she said “No.” Emphasize that what his birth father did was wrong. But remind your son that something wonderful came out of the situation — him.
A: Handle the conversation in a casual, matter-of-fact manner. You don’t need a therapist to do this. You are his parents, and he’ll be more comfortable hearing the story from you than from a stranger.
Also, the involvement of a third party suggests that “This problem is so big, even my parents can’t handle it.” He needs to feel that you trust him with this difficult information and that he can trust you to always share the truth with him — even when it’s not good news.