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Talking To Your Kids about the Baby That Was Put Up For Adoption

baby that was put up for adoptionDo you have children and need to talk with them about the baby that was put up for adoption?  Or maybe the adopted baby came first, and now you want to tell the children who came later about the baby?

In either case, you need to be gentle and loving with your kids.  Learning that a sibling will not grow up with you can be difficult for a young child to understand.  When your adult kids learn that they have a sibling out in the world, that can be hard too.  his article focuses on when and how to have these conversations with your kids about the baby that was put up for adoption.

Should  you tell your kids that you plan to put your baby up for adoption?

Your kids have probably noticed you’re pregnant even if you’re hiding it.  It could be very destabilizing for them to see you no longer pregnant and wonder what happened to the baby.  They will almost certainly wonder why you aren’t telling them.  This can be scary.  If you aren’t being honest about your plan to put your baby up for adoption, your kids will know something is being kept from them.  Kids tend to imagine things that are much worse than the truth.

There are also advantages to telling your kids about the adoption plan.  Eventually, they will learn the truth and you want that truth to come from you.  You will have no control over the message and how your kids receive it if they hear it from someone else.

siblings might want to know about the baby that was put up for adoption

Try to  be as honest as you can be with your kids about your pregnancy and your adoption plan.  Hearing the truth can be hard, but it can also be empowering.  Here are some ideas about how to talk with your kids about your adoption plan.

How to talk with your young kids about your adoption plan.

First, you must consider the age of your kids.  For very little ones, it can be enough to say that you won’t be this baby’s mommy, that another mommy and daddy will be taking the baby home to adopt it and to take care of it.  If your child asks why, you might say that you are giving them this new baby because they can’t have a baby.  It’s important to answer your child’s questions so she knows her feelings about the baby and the adoption are important.  Be a good listener.  Look for clues about what might be concerning your child.  Be sure to address these concerns.

Older children will be better able to understand your choice.  Be honest about why you are choosing adoption for this baby.  There’s a very good chance your older children will understand why it would be difficult to add a baby to your family and will be supportive of you.  Many kids will understand why baby that was put up for adoption.  Frequently, older children will want to know that they can meet the adoptive parents, perhaps even help choose them.  Some will want to know that they can see pictures of the baby in the future and that they can stay in touch.  Involving them in the process can be really helpful and reassuring for older kids.

When talking with your kids remember to:

  • Take control of the situation by addressing it head on and being honest.
  • Keep the message simple for really small children.
  • Be a good listener and let your kids express their feelings.
  • Answer their questions as honestly as you can.
  • Involve older kids in the process.
  • Keep the conversation going.  Your kids will likely have questions after they’ve  had time to process.


Should you tell your older or adult children about the baby you put up for adoption?

It’s probably a good idea to tell your older children about the baby that was put up for adoption.  Secrets tend to come out.  I think many people are frequently surprised to hear that their closely held and most painful secrets are common knowledge to their friends and family.  They have all just been really good at pretending they don’t know!  Deciding to tell your kids about their adopted sibling can be incredibly difficult, especially if  you’ve been holding on to it for so long.  Here are some things to think about.

Are you obligated to tell your children about their sibling?

Most would say that you are not obligated to tell your children about the baby you put up for adoption.  Adoption is a private matter, and it is entirely up to you whether you want to share this with anyone.  However, keep in mind that  your children might feel differently.  Some may argue that they have a right to know about the baby that was put up for adoption.  In fact, many biological siblings are finding each other anyway through DNA testing and social media.  Your kids might prefer to hear this information from you rather than stumbling upon it.

Ask yourself:  What are you afraid of?

Many birth parents are afraid of judgment, either by their children or their children’s spouses or partners.  We live in an age of information, (it’s nearly impossible to keep anything private these days), and information that was shocking decades ago isn’t necessarily a big deal today.  There’s a very good chance your fear of being judged is unfounded.  Sharing the pain of what  you went through is a gift to your children.  When and how you choose to  share your story with them is up to you.  Remember this as you talk with them, and remember too, that you will almost certainly feel relieved when you tell them.  Unload the burden and allow your loved ones to support you.  Don’t let fear hold you back

How to tell your children about the baby that was put up for adoption.

talking-with-adult-children-about-sibling-put-up-adoptionBe as honest as you comfortably can be.  Tell your kids your story, what you were going through and why you made the choice to put your baby up for adoption.  Tell them about your plans, your hopes and dreams.  Remind them that if  you had chosen to parent, they likely wouldn’t be here today listening to your story.  You might also explain, honestly, why you chose this moment in time to tell them.  Maybe you just couldn’t hold onto the secret anymore.  Or maybe you wanted them to hear it from you before they hear it from someone else.  Whatever the case may be, it’s important to be as honest as you can.

I told my daughters when they were eight and nine years old.  They listened respectfully to my story as I told them that adoption was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  I told them that I cried and couldn’t leave my bed for two weeks after he was born.  I told them about all the times, before they were born, that people forgot I was a mother.  They know all about the grief and loss and, most important, that I have never had any regrets.  I told them how much I loved them and how proud I am to be their mother.  They understand now that I believe the adoption has made me a better mother.

When talking with older and adult kids remember:

  • Be proud.  You have nothing to be ashamed of.  Sharing your story is a gift.
  • Be as honest as you comfortably can be.  Tell them your  whole story if you can.
  • Give your kids lots of space to ask questions.
  • Keep the dialogue going.  Questions will almost certainly come up in the days to come.

Do you want your kids to  meet the baby that was put up for adoption?

Do you want your children to meet baby the that was put up for adoption?  There’s a good chance that your kids will want to see pictures, if possible, and meet their sibling.  Don’t be surprised if each feels differently.  Before you talk with your kids about why you put your baby up for adoption, think about how you will respond if they want to make contact.  Talk with your spouse or partner and make sure they are on board as well.  Consider bringing in an expert counselor to help you all decide as a family how you want to pursue this, if at all.

I hope this article was helpful.  Feel free to reach out if you have any questions, need a counseling referral, or need help putting a baby up for adoption.

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You can send me your questions about adoption or ask me to send you more information.  Your communication with me is always confidential, and you’re never under any obligation to do an adoption.  I’m here to help, not to pressure you or tell you what to do.

Sincerely,

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Megan Cohen, Birth Attorney

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