Dear Therapist: 'Can you tell children they're adopted'

Published: Wed 9 Jun 2021, 7:01 PM

Last updated: Thu 1 Jul 2021, 3:44 PM

I have been thinking of adopting a child and have come very close to it often. However, I wonder if an adopted child should be told that they aren’t biological offspring. Does it impact the way they see us as parents? — Name Withheld

By Prateeksha Shetty

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Dear Writer, I understand that you are concerned about an adopted child’s response to the news. I believe that if approached the correct way, it can foster the child’s sense of self and belonging. It’s best to make the story of adoption a part of conversations from a young age (some experts state as young as three years of age) rather than breaking the news in a single day, when they are much older. You could build it into play through games and stories or even have an adoption story covering important aspects of the journey. You must also recognise your own fears and anxieties that may prevent you from opening a dialogue on the same front.

Addressing questions from your child in a safe space, as they grow older, will instill a feeling of being chosen and wanted. The attachment that a parent has with a child is more important than how you became a parent.

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