Ask AF: Assuming Friends Were Adopted

An AF reader wants to know how to start explaining adoption to a five-year-old. Our expert answers.

Q: When my five-year-old plays with his friends, he talks about his birth mom and asks them who their birth moms are. Why is he asking this? What should we say?


A: Your son’s assumption that all children were adopted is typical of young children’s egocentric perspective – if he was adopted, all children must be adopted. But five-year-olds can begin to understand that families are formed in different ways. Talk about this, using his friends’ families as examples: “All children are born. Then some are adopted, like you, and some live with their birth parents, like your friend, Dave.”

If you’re worried about your child’s conversations with his friends, remember that his statements are over their heads. As your son gets older, he will become more aware of what he is saying, to whom, how they react, and how he wants to deal with that.

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