Just as parents may use a friend or family members pregnancy to teach their children about reproduction, parents who adopt often find that their experiences become the example by which their friends or family teach their children about adoption.
While this can be good because it gets people talking about adoption and helping others to understand there is a fine line between keeping your child’s information private and keeping it secret. Children who have been adopted have the right to privacy – this means sharing personal information with only people who need to know. This is particularly important if your child is a bit older. If someone asks you why your child’s birth parents placed them for adoption, you should direct them back to your child saying something like ” That’s something that Susie would need to tell you.” You can however use that moment as a teaching opportunity and follow up with a general explanation of why some women choose adoption.
By not revealing personal details about a child’s adoption you are not keeping secrets, you are protecting your child’s privacy. A secret is something that you keep from someone who the information relates to. Secrets in adoption are not a good thing, but keeping someone’s confidential information private and letting them reveal what they are comfortable revealing is different.
When discussing adoption with children always give explanations according to their age. You don’t need to go into a big long story about birth parents etc if the child is young – they probably won’t follow the conversation and just want to know why you may not look alike or something. Explain that adoption is just one of many ways people form families. This may lead other children to question whether they are adopted so you may need to address this. Children can also be told that some children who are adopted know their birth parents and some don’t. Neither is right or wrong its just the way it is sometimes.