For some children, their adoption history may contain sensitive information that may be upsetting, like abuse or abandonment.
Many adoptive parents wonder when they should tell their child about information like this. Is it better to wait until they’re 18 years old? Or should you tell them as soon as possible?
You might be tempted to think 18 years old is the better option, now that they are legally an adult. But this can make it harder on the child to cope with the information you share with them. By waiting years to inform the child about the difficult parts of their history, they might feel mistrust toward you. They may feel that you withheld information that they had a right to know because it’s their background. This leaves the child with even more emotional struggles to sort through.
It’s also better to inform your child of their background before they reach their formative preteen years – around 12 to 13 years of age.
Once a child reaches this age, their teen years are dedicated to figuring out their place in the world, forming their identity and who they will be when they grow up. If a child has a chance to process the negative information of their past before this age, it helps them incorporate it into their future.
Even though it can be hard to wrap your head around sharing difficult information with your child about their history, it’s important that the child has this foundation of knowledge about themselves. If you wait too long without sharing the information, the child may struggle with even more negative feelings that they have to cope with. You want to demonstrate to your child that you are reliable, honest, and open with them so they can trust you as they navigate the more complicated parts of their history.
What did you think of this week’s All About Adoption episode? It’s never easy to bring up difficult or negative information about a child’s adoption history. But giving your child this knowledge about themselves grants them a better chance to cope in a healthy way, knowing you are someone who they can trust to keep them informed.
Do you have other adoption topics you’d like to learn about? We’d love to hear them! Just comment below and let us know!
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