Ask AF: Limited Information About Birth Family

What do you do when kids have questions about birth parents that you can't answer? The AF expert explains.


Q: My 5-year-old has been asking a lot about her birth father recently (I assume it’s because I’m a single mom), but I only have information about her birth mother. And, as far as I know, her birth parents aren’t together, but my daughter assumes they are. What should I say to my daughter and should I show her a photo of her birth mom?

A: Answer your daughter with basic, honest information. Tell her simply that she has a birth mother and a birth father, but that you know a lot more about her birth mother. You don’t need to raise the question of whether her birth parents are together. If she brings it up, tell her you don’t know for sure.

It’s O.K. to share photos of birth family with children of any age. If she wants to see the photograph of her birth mother, let her decide what she wants to do with it. She may ask to take it to school to show to her teacher and friends, or she may want to put it in a special place in her photo album. –Ronny Diamond, Adoption Resource Center, Spence-Chapin, New York City

A: One of the most difficult parts of adoption is not having answers to some of the questions your child asks.

You are probably correct about why your daughter is more curious about her birth father than her birth mother. Be honest. Tell her that you wish you had a picture of her birth father, too, but you don’t.

Try to get some trusted male family members or friends involved in your daughter’s life, if you haven’t already. She is aware that some of her friends have a dad, and she might greatly benefit from a relationship with someone who can fill that role. –Vicki Peterson

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