How Do I Tell My Son He's Adopted?

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Parents

My son is adopted. I’m not sure when, or how, to tell him. I don’t know if I even should! Is there a certain age when I should tell him? And is there a way to break the news so that it won't be traumatic for him?
Juanita

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends telling children that they're adopted as soon as they're able to understand — usually between ages 2 and 4. The concept of adoption still may be beyond them, but it's important to introduce the word to their vocabulary.

Let your son know that he can ask you any questions he has. Bringing the topic up early on will allow both you and your child to become more comfortable discussing what it means to be adopted.

To help tell the story of how your family came to be, consider keeping a scrapbook of pictures and items from when your son was born and when you adopted him. Such details and mementos can help convey your joy at having him in your life. You also might get your son one of the many books written for young kids about being adopted.

Most important, try to make adoption something that is openly discussed, rather than a secret with a negative connotation.

Your pediatrician can be a good source of other tips about discussing adoption.

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: October 2012

Have a question? Email us.

Although we can't reply personally, you may see your question posted to this page in the future. If you're looking for medical advice, a diagnosis, or treatment, consult your doctor or other qualified medical professional. If this is an emergency, contact emergency services in your area.



Related Resources

OrganizationAmerican Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.
Web SiteAdoption.com This site examines all aspects of adoption and the adoptive process.
Web SiteAdopt: Assistance, Information, Support This is an online community for families who want to adopt or have already adopted, adoptees, and birth families.
Web SiteChild Welfare Information Gateway This site offers information on many aspects of adoption.


Related Articles

Medical Issues in Adoption If you're considering adoption, here are some things to know about the health and medical care of an adopted child, before, during, and after the adoption.




Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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