Ask AF: Difficult Details

Sometimes, our children's stories include painful topics, like rape or abuse. When — and how — should we tell?

Q: We adopted domestically, and we were told that our child was conceived via rape. When and how should we share this with him?


A: The best time to share any difficult adoption information (rape, abandonment, incarceration) is about age eight, when a child is mature enough to understand it but has plenty of time to process it before adolescence. Keep in mind, however, that rape or date rape is frequently a face-saving explanation for an unwanted pregnancy.

Unless rape was verified via court records or another reliable source, your child is better served by a more open-ended explanation. If you verify this information, share it with your child in language that is as free of value judgment as possible, in an open, caring way.