Ask AF: When to Share Birth Family Information

Parents want to know, when is the right time to start telling a child about her birth mother? The AF expert replies.

Q: Recently, our five-year-old daughter has been asking lots of questions about her adoption. The latest is what was her “other mother’s” name? I would rather wait until she is a teenager to tell her, but my husband thinks we should answer her now. Your advice?

A: The earlier you begin these discussions with your daughter, the easier it will be, and the more time you will have to help her understand what it means to be adopted. Now is a good time to give her factual information about her birth family, especially if she’s asking. She is too young to make judgments about it. For a five-year-old, facts are just facts. If you wait until she is an adolescent, the information might seem “loaded.” Your task is to help your daughter understand that her birth mother is a real person (not a saint or a sinner). Giving her name, showing photographs, and so on, is the best way to communicate this idea. In short, by telling your daughter her birth mother’s name, you will give her the assurance that you are available to help her understand this and all other aspects of her life.

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