When is the right time to tell your kid he/she is adopted?

Philippines
March 14, 2007 2:56am CST
Or will you opt to keep it a secret? For people who have been adopted and for parents who have adopted children, when do you think the kid should learn that he or she is adopted? Should you wait until you were asked? Should it be while the kid is young or when already grown-up? Is it really an issue that you really have to tell the kid that he's adopted? We have one in the family and she's already 11. And we haven't told her yet. Now I'm imagining what would be the consequences.
4 people like this
27 responses
• Romania
14 Mar 07
i wouldn't tell her/him that he/she was adopted... why should i do that, to cause her/him pain? unless I HAVE TO for some reason...
2 people like this
@Foxxee (3653)
• United States
14 Mar 07
I agree with this. Why bother, unless you really have to?
@patgalca (14378)
• Orangeville, Ontario
15 Mar 07
I will go into more description in my response but I do agree with this as I am in this situation with my daughter. Her father is not her biological father and we have not told her. We have debated over this but have yet to come up with an answer. More in my post.
@joyce959 (1562)
• Philippines
14 Mar 07
In my opinion, its best that the child know that he/she is adopted because sooner or later that adopted child would also find the truth, might come from neighbors or other persons not from the adopting family and the adopted child would just hold grudge against the adopting family. If you can sense that the child has a high level of maturity to understand the reasons why he/she was adopted then you can tell. There are children who can't seem to understand some situation even at ages 12 up, but there are children who are matured enough at their early age. The adopting family can notice that, and it is up to them to decide. At age 11, you can begin to tell little by little to your adopted sister about the truth but I guess, but dont tell it directly or astraight-forward. You can begin by asking ... what if a friend of you is adopted and she doesnt know it, what will you think her reaction if she found out the truth? You can sense something from her answer whether she's ready to hear the truth.
@patgalca (14378)
• Orangeville, Ontario
15 Mar 07
I agree with that more tactful approach.
• Philippines
15 Mar 07
yeah, it's like testing the waters. thanks! :)
14 Mar 07
I think it is a tough one but at the end of the day the longer you leave it, the older they get and the more likely they are to have a huge reaction that when they are little. i've always believed that it's best to tell a child they are adopted quite early in their life,and to do so at intervals as they develop! That way they will understand and they won't hate you for not telling them sooner etc!!! Good luck. In south africa, I studied a social work degree and we were taught that parents are now encouraged to tell the child he/she is adopted by the time they are 8 years old, and are encouraged to learn to say it when the child is stilltoo little to understand, just to get used to sayingit and hearing yourself say it to them!!
• Philippines
15 Mar 07
thanks for that insight. i think the idea of being adopted from a child's point of view doesn't hit home if told only once. and the parents can't explain it also in one sitting. :)
@beaniegdi (1966)
14 Mar 07
I think it is best to tell as soon as possible as I think it is easier for the children if they have just grown up always knowing it. I don't know what the best way to tell her now would be but I would just tell her how much you love her and that you chose her specially as you loved her so much. I would think she would be curious about her birth parents and might be upset about it. However I have never been in this position but I do think honesty is important. I hope she takes it well.
2 people like this
• Philippines
15 Mar 07
i'm for honesty as well. and i really do hope she takes it well enough too. as to when, i don't know. thanks!
• United States
14 Mar 07
I think a child should be brought up knowing that she or he is adopted. Let the child know that they're loved, and very special. Make them feel like part of the family.
• Philippines
15 Mar 07
thanks for the upfront style of handling it. :)
• Philippines
14 Mar 07
I think we better reveal the truth to our adopted child when they get to the stage that he will understand carefully what the real situation, Its better if we will explain him evrything as early as possible so that it would not be so difficult for both parents and the child to accept it. We dont have to wait like till the child turns 18 or much older than that coz even a 11years old kid will fully understand that though he will have lots of questions in his mind, it's normal... We need to open it to the child that he is adopted as early as we know that he will understand and please tell them everything, explain them that even they are adopted, they are still your child and you really love them... Dont make them feel that after you reveal the truth, everything will be change too... Make them feel that they are important and you really love them as your biological child...
• Philippines
15 Mar 07
thanks! revealing that she's adopted really shouldn't make a difference or change things as they are. after all, nobody has ever treated her differently.
@Rexy_leigh (1189)
• Philippines
14 Mar 07
This is usually the dilemma of parents who fear their adopted child would soon know that they are adopted. I believe it is but right for the parents to tell their adopted child the truth before he'll know it from other people or by any sort of accident. Well, I guess it basically depends on the child's level of understanding..you know your child best, I mean you get to see him everyday so at least you could figure out how he's gonna react to things like this. If you feel that he's already capable of understanding these things and wouldn't take the truth as something bad, then go tell him as early as possible. It's still worth the try, at least by then your child would know the reality and you would free yourself from the fear that he would someday soon find the truth out and could even lead him to hating you for hiding his true identity for ages. Godbless!
• Philippines
15 Mar 07
yes, i agree. better learn it from the people who adopted you rather than strangers. :) thanks!
• Philippines
14 Mar 07
I've seen this talk show where they talked about adopted kids. Their guests were kids of different ages who were all adopted and they all said that they feel it's best for the adopted kids to know about it as early as possible.
1 person likes this
• Philippines
14 Mar 07
thanks. i appreciate your reference to a live discussion/show. but how early should it be? is 11 already late?
• India
14 Mar 07
According to me , it is better to tell the kids that they were adopted. This can be told when the parent thinks that the child is matured enough to tolerate the shock... My advise would b to tell it at the age of 20 or more... Because at that age, the kid is no more a kid .... but an individual who can understand and act wisely....
• Philippines
15 Mar 07
thanks. i do agree that the kid should be matured enough to understand why.
@Foxxee (3653)
• United States
14 Mar 07
That is your choice and nobody can make it for you. I think you can go either route. I never adopted a child, but I do have a daughter who's biological father walked out on us when I was pregnant. When my daughter was 5 months old, I met my husband and he adopted her by the time she was 2, but she has always called him daddy and knows no different. We are always talking about what we should do and if we should ever tell her or not. My family has told me that they think I shouldn't even bother with it. Why tell her? She doesn't really have to know. I think it might do more damage in the long run and this I know because when I was 14 years old, my mother told me that my father wasn't my real father and I felt lost. I felt like no one loved me and I just always wondered who my father was. My sister was adopted and she has known since day one, but she has also been down a road just wondering who she really is and doesn't feel she belongs. So I feel that if you know these things, it just opens up doors you really don't need opened. Get my point? I could be wrong, but this is my opinion. And I have seen lots of talk show on this and most of the kids that know, feel lost or something is off. I don't think you have to tell the child they are adopted. It wont hurt them. But that is a choice only you can make. Good luck!
1 person likes this
@patgalca (14378)
• Orangeville, Ontario
15 Mar 07
You just told my story! LOL! We have yet to tell our daughter who will be 14 in April. It will open up a can of worms, like how her mother slept with two different men in one week! And the number of other kids her bio dad abandoned who are her half-sisters. It really is a tough call.
• Philippines
15 Mar 07
thanks! i guess if or when the child learns the truth of her adoption, we have limited information to give as to her biological parents. as much as possible, we don't want her to feel lost or unloved.
• United States
14 Mar 07
Being that I know some folks who were adopted, it was easier on them growing up knowing they were adopted because they always knew but didn't love their parents any less. Now, I know someone who was told when she was almost 20 and it took a toll on her. She had tons of questions, but felt like she'd been lied to her whole life. She had no clue at all that her parents weren't her birth parents and she ended up in counseling. I'm not saying that would happen to your daughter, but I think as soon as possible is best.
1 person likes this
@Foxxee (3653)
• United States
14 Mar 07
Or never at all.
• United States
14 Mar 07
Hopefully, in that case they'd never accidentally find out somehow or find out from someone else.
• Philippines
15 Mar 07
I believe I would let my kid know if she was adopted when they are already old enough to understand. I would explain every detail to her and let her know how much important she is to us and how we accept and believe she is our daughter..Tell her how we don't want to hide this from her and be honest and if she wants to look for her real parents nothing will change and I will support her in her decisions. Sometimes though people opt not to tell their kids because they are scared of the consequences..but with proper deliverance I believe she will understand.
1 person likes this
• Philippines
15 Mar 07
yes, i agree with the "delivery" thing. how it was said can create an impact to the situation. thanks!
@pinklilly (3446)
• Australia
15 Mar 07
Depends on the stuation but I would prefer to tell them young so as they know the truth from the start it is alot harder to deal with it in their teens because that is when all there emotions are running wild and problems can occur. I have known a few people that are adopted and from my experience with them I feel it is to be honest with them earlier or keep it a life long secret....
1 person likes this
• Philippines
15 Mar 07
yeah, we're having a dillema because of the fact that she's nearing her teens and i agree this is a difficult enough stage for a kid, much more to learn about being adopted. thanks!
@ElicBxn (60884)
• United States
15 Mar 07
I worked for a registry to match adoptees to their birth parents so I got to talk to a lot of adoptees over the years I worked there. I found that people that knew from the beginning have had less problems than those that discover later. I think 11 is late. But its never too late so long as when you explain to the child (or adult child) that they were chosen. That because you (or whoever the parent is) couldn't have children & and you wanted one to love so badly, you chose to adopt. That their birthmother didn't abandon them, they just knew that they couldn't provide a good life for them at that time and chose to let a loving family that wanted a child to have them. Make sure that the child understand that they were not a 2nd choice, that if you could've had a child, you would hope that they were just like the one you do have. That your child is the one of your dreams. Now, when that child wonders about their birth parent - and they will, be supportive. Keep telling them that their birth mother just wasn't able to raise them like she thought they deserved and wanted better for them than she could provide. Finally, when the child gets to be old enough and really wants to search for info or for their birth mother, do not fell hurt or abandoned. You raised a caring, loving child and now they just want to know more. I've seen people satisfied with just the background info that agencies must now supply on the birthparents. I've seen people that have made contact and, once they meet, either on the phone or in person, have satisfied their curiousity. And I've heard about people have practially joined their adoptive family and birth family. I think the craziest case I ever heard was a guy who was adopted discovered as an adult that he grew up in the same nieghborhood as his bio-family & his best friend was actually a cousin. There's another story, but I don't know if its true, about 2 girls that were twins but seperated - even to different cities. But one family later moved to the same city & the girls meet in high school, became best friends, & everyone was telling them how much they looked like each other.
1 person likes this
• Philippines
15 Mar 07
thanks. this is really very helpful. i'm now having a hard time giving the "best response" mark as several of you provided quite a good opinion and excellent advise on the matter.
• United States
15 Mar 07
I think each indiviual case is differnet. I personally would not work over time to hide it. If the moment presented it's self, and the child was asking questions that led to it. I would tell the child the truth, when they started asking questions.
1 person likes this
• Philippines
15 Mar 07
thanks. it seems like this spares the worry of thinking of when to tell the child. :)
• United States
14 Mar 07
i personally think that the best time to tell is when they are at the age of 18. They are legal, and yet they are mature to understand the fact that they were adopted. And if they really want to find out who their real parents were, then they have all the rights to find them.
1 person likes this
• Philippines
15 Mar 07
thanks. although about the parents, there's very little information available even at the time. the biological mother wanted a clean break. and she did.
@CUTUABI (62)
• India
14 Mar 07
the right time is when a child is able to understand he real meaning of the sentence I AM ADOPTED(probably in teenage). but the thing that matters is the duty of the parents to make him/her realise that he/she has been loved and will be loved more than a real child so that the child may not feel the difference between a real and an adopted one....
• Philippines
15 Mar 07
yes, i agree. if the child is treated the same as other offsprings, why would it matter that she's adopted. thanks!
• Singapore
14 Mar 07
In my opinion, if your family tells her that she is adopted and she is still young, she may not grasp the gravity of the situation. I guess your family will have to be discerning as to when is the best time. She lives with your family hence your family will know the best time to break the news to her.
• Philippines
15 Mar 07
thanks. she has started to ask because the difference of her skin color from that of her cousins has been made apparent to her by other kids in the neighborhood.
• United States
14 Mar 07
Well, it is never easy to tell someone that they are adopted no matter what age the are. I remember when I found out that my step-father was NOT my real father and I kind of knew it all along. My mother told me when I was eight that my father was someone else. My step-father and I are nothing like each other. He is verbally abusive, he cannot control his anger, he will not go to councilling for his issues, he believes that he is always right, he thinks that he is in control of everything and everyone, and his house should be destroyed because it is so messy. I go to councilling for my problems and I do the best I can to keep my emotions in check, I know I am not always right and I appreciate it when people point it out, I believe everyone has their own mind and I do not want to control anyone, I just want to help them if they need it, and I do not like to be messy, I work hard to keep my house clean (fear of being called "white trash" is the reason for me wanting to always keep my house clean). Also, physical appearence, I am taller than he is and I have light brown eyes and light brown hair. He has light blonde hair and dark brown eyes. I have always worn glasses, he only began wearing glasses when he got to the age of 65. Believe it or not, children who are adopted can usually tell if they are adopted. You know what, ask questions? Ask your daughter what her favorite things are, and if she notices anything different about herself, and see if she notices that she is different from the rest of the family.
1 person likes this
@roniroxas (10576)
• Philippines
17 Mar 07
this is a very difficult question i may say. if you can hold on to the secret then i think just hold on it forever. but if someone else knows that this child is not yours or he/she is adopted i will tell her as soon as she can understand or as early as possible. i want the kid to find out from me not from other people or other members of the family. some relatives are really cruel and sometimes they are the one who is telling the kid not thinking if they will hurt someones feelings or not. i have a cousin and her eldest off-spring is a love child. now that she is married and have 4 more kids to her husband. her husband treats the eldest like his own daughter and my niece is not aware that, that person she calls dad is not her real father. and you know what, some heartless relative told her that her dad is not the one she calls daddy. dont let this happen to you because it might break your adopted childs heart. it is better for you to tell her/him for you can explain it properly. it is much complicated to explain once somebody else told her/him before you.
• Philippines
19 Mar 07
yes, quite difficult. parents should be allowed to be the one to give the information to the kid. kids learning about it from others, as many have said, might prove to be hurtful one way or the other. thanks roni! :)
@roniroxas (10576)
• Philippines
19 Mar 07
yes i read all the response and it is true, it is okay and alright for you to tell them than hearing in from other people.
@CUTUABI (62)
• India
16 Mar 07
to the child the word ADOPTION should only appear as a name and nothing more than that. he/she must not feel any differences among them and other children...
• Philippines
19 Mar 07
i agree. there should not be any difference in treatment nor in the love they give to other children. thanks cutuabi! :)