On Telling My Son He’s Adopted

Xavier and me crawlingI’ve told the world that my son is adopted. But now that the legal aspect of bringing him into our family grows more distant, I don’t think about the adoption anymore. He’s my son, end of story.

Except it isn’t the end. Our son has to know he’s adopted too.

Getting out that truth can be a struggle for some parents. And I certainly understand the difficulty, especially as a child gets older. You don’t know what to say. You feel you’ve waited too long. You think the news will irrevocably hurt them. My wife and I have two key parts to sharing the news with our son.

  1. Make sure it’s smothered in love. Here is the narrative: His birth mother loved him. She wanted us to take care of him. We wanted him more than anything and love love love him.
  2. Make it a part of our lives. We have an ‘Adoption Book’ ready for him. It’s a monthly log of his first year with us, and includes pictures of him in the hospital, all of us with the judge who finalized the adoption, as well as his milestones.

That's the plan, anyway, and I'm certain we will stick to it. There's no way we would keep it a secret from him. We've heard horror stories about the adult who discovers the truth at a funeral or some other family gathering. Hopefully our son will still feel secure and know he’s loved. There are always bumps in raising a child, but hopefully sharing with him that he's adopted won't be one of them.

How did you explain to your child he or she was adopted?

Image via Angela Johnson Meadows

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nonmember avatar lindsey

I am 29 years old and I was adopted by my parents when I was 7 weeks old. I asked them when they first told me and my Mom said "It was something you always knew because we started telling you on the way home." They also have done their best to answer every question all throughout my life. I know that your son will always be curious about many things but in the end, he will always feel loved and will always feel like he is yours.

Jay Souza

I don't have children, either natural or adopted.


But I think as soon as he is able to process that you can start talking about the adoption and explaining little by little, respecting his ability to understand things. And then a little more as he grows a little older.


Good luck. :)

nonmember avatar Nicole

My friend's aunt and uncle told her cousin that his birth mommy (and daddy) grew him in her tummy but mommy and daddy) grew him in their heart. He has a picture of all four of them together and they receive yearly updates.

LadyM... LadyMinni

I still haven't gotten a plan in order, but I can't help but wonder if my kids will just sort of figure it out. The twins look nothing like me, not at all. They and my fiance both have really dark brown hair, but their eyes are brown while his are hazel. They are half Italian, so unlike us pale Irish folk, they have some color to them. Some of my friends will say "James your kids are so cute, but who's the mother?"


I can't just never speak about it and hope they figure it out though. That would be wrong. Plus, there is an open invite for their birth mom to show up and be a part of their lives.


Does anyone have an opinion about what a good age might be for telling kids they're adopted? My twins aren't even a year old yet, so I figure I have a little time.

Coles... Coles_mom

I've always been told that you simply tell them all the time. Every day- so it's just something the know, but it always been a part of their history.

MrsRo... MrsRoberts413

I've worked with students who were adopted, and like mentioned, it is something they have grown up knowing.  I've even known a 3 year-old, who, on his birthday, will tell you the story of how he was "born in Russia in Mommy's heart," and they celebrate both his birthday and his "Gotcha Day" (the anniversary of the day they got him), and tell him the story every year.  Celebrating "Gotcha Day" is a great way to explain it to your kid, when they ask "What are we celebrating?" 

Felly... FellyScarlett

Two of my siblings were adopted, but they were 5 and 9 at the time so we didn't have to tell them.

PonyC... PonyChaser

Both my ex and his sister were adopted at birth. They were very much wanted, and my in-laws never made an issue of it. They always knew. At family gatherings, it used to be tradition for my FIL to bring out the slide projector and go through family pics - this was something they did from their childhood, as well - and in those shows were photos from the days they brought the kids home. It was always just a natural part of their upbringing, much like my story of how I grew up with my birth parents.


I love the ideas of the "gotcha day" and "being born in Mommy's/Daddy's heart", but however it's done, I think treating it like the natural thing it is, and not like it's a big deal (I know it is, but it's no more a big deal than a "regular" birth, if you understand my meaning), is the most important thing. "We wanted you, we got you, and we've loved you every minute through it." Honesty is best.


Don't stress and keep it simple.

nonmember avatar IslandMomOf4

My parents started telling me I was adopted from a very early age. Around 8 it really clicked what that meant. They never talked down about my birth mother, nor did they volunteer lots of info. I was very curious about her. I tracked her down when I was 17. If I could do it over, I would've left it a mystery & never went looking for any of them!

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