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November 2015Vol. 16, No. 8Talking to Adopted Children About Birth Families

The September 2015 issue of Adoption Advocate, a publication of the National Council for Adoption (NFCA), discusses the importance of talking with adopted children about their birth families and offers some suggestions for adoptive parents. The article, "Talking to Adopted Children About Birth Parents and Families of Origin: How to Answer the 'Hard Questions,'" recognizes that these conversations are not always easy; yet, regardless of how much or how little is known about a child's birth parents and adoption, it is important that adoptive parents initiate this dialogue. After all, an adopted child has two sets of parents; both are important.

Adoptive parents can help lessen the fear and anxiety associated with these discussions by starting them early, even at the time of the adoption, and making them an ongoing part of family life. Doing so lays a foundation of honesty; encourages openness, acceptance, and transparency; and can help build and strengthen the bond between adoptive parent and child.

Throughout the article, the author reiterates the need for sharing information about a child's past, birth parents or other family, and adoption at a developmentally appropriate level. Guidance and tips for adoptive parents are provided in the following areas:

  • Beginning the conversation
  • Talking about adoption and birth parents
  • When information is lacking
  • Discussing the "hard things"
  • Discussing birth families with adolescents
  • Looking for more information

"Talking to Adopted Children About Birth Parents and Families of Origin: How to Answer the 'Hard Questions,'" by Rhonda Jarema, is available on the NFCA website at