Ask AF: When Pets Need a New Home

Pet adoption may confuse your adopted child. Our expert goes over how to explain it to them.

Q: We haven’t been able to give our dogs the proper amount of time and attention since adopting, so we’ve made the difficult decision to find a better home for them. How do we tell our daughters that the pets will no longer be a part of our family? We don’t want them to think this could happen to them.


A: You can start by saying that all dogs need to live with a family that can give them the right care. List several specific things dogs need, like going for walks, getting exercise, having someone to feed them and pet them, and then tell the girls that your family isn’t able to do this for your dogs.

Assure your daughters that the dogs have done nothing wrong, that you made the decision that seemed best for them. To help your daughters say goodbye to the dogs, you can take pictures of them playing together, and help the girls write down a few things they’d like to remember about the dogs.

In a separate conversation about adoption vs. pet adoption, you should tell your daughters that dogs are and can be moved, but that children stay with their adoptive families forever.