How to Normalize Talking About Your Family’s Adoption Story Within the Family and in the Community

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How to Normalize Talking About Your Family's Adoption Story Within the Family and in the Community

Talking about your own or your adopted child’s adoption story at home and with family and friends can feel a bit taboo. Is it okay? How do you broach the topic?

Start at Home

In some circles, adoption is kept a secret from the child adopted. But when you adopt children through the foster care system it is pretty rare that a child is young enough to not remember life with another family. Creating open space to talk with your adopted child(ren) and family about your child(ren)’s story is a great way to embrace your adopted child’s whole story.

Looking for help on how to get the conversation started?

  • First, know it’s totally okay and normal to feel uneasy and nervous. I felt unprepared, too.
  • When you broach the topic and how you get the conversation started doesn’t have to be complicated. If your child likes board games, try playing a game together and asking them, “How does it feel to be adopted?” or encouraging your child, “I want you to know it’s safe to talk about your adoption story with Dad and me.”
  • Is your adopted child(ren) already working with a therapist? Ask for their help. My husband and I had a few sessions with our children’s play therapist to practice appropriate language and conversation boundaries. 

These 5 tips are also great resources for adoptive parents wanting to talk to their children about adoption.

Beyond the Home

My kids began elementary school as their adoptions were finalized so many classmates were unaware they were adopted. I remember being upset when the teacher asked for a baby photo for a class project. I didn’t have those. Should I say something to the teacher? Would it hurt her feelings?

Talking about your family’s adoption story outside your home is not always black and white. Sometimes what’s best for your family is to not speak up. Sometimes speaking up is what is best.

With websites like LoveWhatMatters and organizations like the Dave Thomas Foundation devoted to sharing adoption stories, the thought of sharing your own might make you both excited and uneasy. And that’s okay.

How to Gauge When/If It’s Appropriate to Share About Your Family’s Adoption Story

  • Ask your significant other for their thoughts.
  • Ask for input from the child(ren) who were adopted.
  • Ask others that you live with for their opinion.
  • Set up boundaries on what is okay to share and what isn’t. Are photos okay? Which photos? Are there certain details that aren’t appropriate for people outside your home to know?

Defining what’s okay and not okay to share as a family unit helps build trust and respect. Different seasons might come with different preferences. Those are okay, too. The important thing is to create a safe place to have the conversation.

Author's Bio

Marcy Bursac is an adoptive mom of a biological sibling pair and is passionate about finding and coaching forever families for the remaining 115,000 U.S. children who are waiting to be adopted through foster care. To learn more about Marcy, you can follow her on LinkedIn and Instagram.