30 October 2023

Starting a Lifelong Conversation: Talking to Your Baby About Their Adoption

Long gone are the days when infant adoption was shrouded in secrecy and shame, hidden from the child and the surrounding community. Today we know that adoption deserves celebration and that open and honest communication forms the foundation of strong family bonds. But did you know that even with infant adoption it’s best to start talking to your baby about their adoption right away?

Experts recommend starting the adoption conversation as soon as your child enters their home, even as a newborn. Research has shown that waiting until a child is over three years old to tell them about their adoption can cause more emotional distress than if they know about it from the beginning. This means adoptive parents are encouraged to immediately integrate their child’s unique story into their daily lives, ensuring there is never a moment when the child doesn’t know their own story. Instead, their story will always have been a part of them. Here are some practical tips for accomplishing just that.

Use Positive Adoption Language

Whatever your child’s story, using positive adoption language is crucial. Words have a profound impact and help shape the narrative of your child’s story. Instead of saying, “Your real mom gave you up because she didn’t want you,” you can say, “Your birth mom loved you so much that she chose to place you with us.” Educating your friends and family on positive adoption language is also important to ensure a supportive environment.

Tell the Truth

Your baby doesn’t need to know every detail of their story at such a young age, especially if there are difficult truths to consider. Nevertheless, it is essential to be truthful, even in the simplified explanations you offer. Avoid telling your child, even as a baby, anything you will have to amend later on.

Share Their Story at Bedtime

Bedtime rituals provide a precious connection point at the end of the day. It’s the perfect time to share with your baby the story of how they became a part of your family. Discuss their birth parents, emphasizing the love they had for them and the selfless decision to place them in your care. Describe your anticipation of their arrival and the preparations made to welcome them home. Share your emotions when you first held them, and the emotions their birth parents expressed upon seeing them for the first time.

Make a Baby Book

Craft a picture book for your child that tells their adoption story. If you’re able, include pictures of when their birth mom was pregnant with them, and images of their birth parents, siblings, and/or grandparents. If possible, include pictures of the moment you all met at the hospital and held them for the first time. Make it a daily ritual to look through this book, reaffirming the profound love that all their parents hold for them and their shared desire for their well-being and happiness.

Explore Diverse Family Narratives

Expose your child to a rich assortment of children’s literature that depicts various family structures. Explore tales of kids living with aunts, uncles, grandparents, children who look different from their parents, those who are adopted, or those growing up with a single parent. Engage in discussions about the similarities and differences between the families portrayed in the stories and your own family. This not only acquaints your child with their own narrative but also fosters an appreciation for the diverse ways in which families come together.

By integrating these practices into your daily routine, you can ensure that your child’s adoption story is not just a part of their history but an integral component of their present and future, fostering a strong sense of belonging and understanding within your family. Embracing your child’s story is an act of profound love and respect, affirming their identity and place within your family’s narrative.

Here at Adoption Partners of Michigan, our dedicated caseworkers provide comprehensive training to our adoptive families, emphasizing the use of positive adoption language, the importance of honesty, and having the utmost respect for birth parents. Whether you’re considering adoption as a way to provide a loving home for a child or exploring the possibility of placing your child for adoption, you can trust Adoption Partners of Michigan to guide you through the process. As a local adoption agency, we are experts at Michigan adoption, and we eagerly await the opportunity to connect with you.

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