Telling child that s/he is adopted is anxiety-provoking task. As a result most parents avoid or delay disclosing the fact about adoption. However, at some point adopted children need to be told about their origins, ideally even before middle childhood. In Indian context, it was realized that the ideal time for telling children about their adoption appears to be between the ages of 7 to 9 years. By the time children are 7 years old, they usually feel established enough in their family not to feel threatened by learning about adoption. Children below 7 years have fears about the loss of their parents, their love, have low self-confidence and have strong emotional reaction. Therefore, disclosing them about adoption can be risky. In addition, there is some question about whether a child under 7 years of age can understand the meaning of adoption and be able cognitively to work through the losses implied by learning that he was born into a different family.
When adopted children are between the ages of seven to nine years, they have better understanding of being adopted as they develop. Children ask specific questions about his/her biological parents, in a sense to construct a more accurate "memory" of his/her original family, and how he came to be adopted.
Tips for disclosure:
• Take professional help. If you are worried, consult psychologist/counselor. Disclosure at right time is important. Share your concerns and discuss alternatives to tell child that s/he is adopted.
• Familiarize child and family members with the word “adoption” using stories: Use the word "adoption" regularly. The word shouldn't become your primary focus, but say it when it feels natural. This way "adoption" never becomes taboo. Read books about adoption, such as Adoption in India: Policies and Experiences, by Vinita Bhargava, The Penguin Guide to Adoption in India, by Dr. Alooma Lobe and Jayapriya Vasudevan, The Day We Met You, by Phoebe Koehler, and Let's Talk About It: Adoption, by Fred Rogers. Weave your own tale how a child was adopted and introduce the concept of adoption.
• Create a memory book. Children love seeing what they looked like as babies and learning about their own history, even if they don't understand every aspect. Keep photos of the day they brought her home, snapshot of the adoption agency, friends at adoption agency etc.
• Observe child: After disclosure, observe how child is reacting. Every child reacts differently. Some child express anger becomes sad or fear being adopted or become curious to know more about biological parents. Be considerate and patient. Be loving and caring. Answer child’s every questions and confusion.
• Manage unintended disclosure: Sometimes child come to know about his/her status from finding adoption documents, photos, or outside family member outbreak the status. Child may react with anger, fear or mixed emotions. Sometimes child ask such questions that that parents are not prepared to answer. Questions such as "Did I grow in your tummy?" “how did I come on the earth,” “my friend said, “your parents are not real. You are adopted.” Is this right? Be prepared to answer these questions. It is recommended to provide honest answer.
• Be patient. While your child is informed about adoption, s/he might not acknowledge the fact that s/he is adopted. Be patient. It may take time to accept the reality. It's perfectly natural for her to ask questions—sometimes even the same ones over and over again. Answer them patiently. Provide love and care.
Thanks for reading this. Hope this is helpful. Kindly share your feedback and experience related to this.