Tell Me About Adoption!

When your child's classmates have questions, you can provide the answers.

What is adoption? A mother and daughter discuss it on a couch

It’s the start of a new school year, and you’re chatting with another parent in your child’s class. Suddenly, she says, “Oh, by the way. My daughter tells me that Maria was adopted—but she doesn’t know what that means. What should I tell her?” How do you respond?

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Grade-school children are naturally curious, so a topic like adoption might pique their interest. (Up to this age, many kids have probably assumed that being born into a family is the only way to get there.) To help your child’s classmates learn about adoption, you’ll need to phrase things in ways they’ll understand.

Here are a few common questions a grade-schooler might ask, and suggestions as to how you—or another adult—can respond.

Q: What is adoption?
A: There are many different ways to become a family. Children may live with the family they were born into, for instance, or with a family who adopts them. Sometimes a birth mother is too young to raise a child, or she needs to work and doesn’t have anyone to take care of him. So she finds a family who will take care of her baby forever. This is called adoption.

Q: Why did you adopt Maria?
Maria’s father and I (or I alone) wanted to have a family, and adopting a child is one way to do it. We will be together forever. We love Maria as much as your family loves you.

Q: What did Maria do so that her real mother didn’t want to keep her?
A: I think you are talking about Maria’s birth mother, the woman who gave birth to her. Maria’s father and I are her real parents. Maria didn’t do anything wrong—adoption is never a child’s fault. It is a decision made by grownups when they don’t feel able or ready to be parents.

Q: Will Maria ever get to meet her real mother?
A: Do you mean her birth mother? Thats a hard question to answer, because I don’t know. Sometimes adopted kids meet their birth parents, and sometimes they don’t.

Q: How come Maria doesn’t look like you or her dad?
A: Maria was born in Guatemala to a family who looks more like her. That family couldn’t take care of Maria (or any baby) when she was born.

Q: Do you think Maria’s real mother misses her?
A: I think her birth mother probably does.

Q: Maria has a younger brother, Matthew. Is he her real brother?
A: Yes, Maria and Matthew are brother and sister, because they are part of the same family.

Q: Is it OK for me to ask Maria questions about being adopted?
Our family has talked openly about adoption from the time Maria was very young. There is nothing to be embarrassed about. But Maria’s story is personal, so it is hers to share. She may decide to answer some of your questions, but not others. That will be her choice to make.

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