The following was syndicated from Quora for The Fatherly Forum, a community of parents and influencers with insights about work, family, and life. If you’d like to join the Forum, drop us a line at [email protected].
What is the best time to tell your kids they’re adopted?
Well, considering that I’m adopted … my advice is that you should tell your child as soon as possible.
My mother told me when I was 5 years old. She sat me down and told me as much as you can reasonably explain to a 5-year-old child. She also used a tone that was somewhere between casual and grave. What helped the most was being young and unaware of the dramatization of adoption in popular media representations. I didn’t take it too seriously. I had my share of questions and my mother answered them to the best of her capacity.
When I was finally exposed to media depictions of the identity crisis that adopted children go through … I was a little baffled and wasn’t sure if I should make a big deal out of it or not. (I think this was in my pre-teens.) I’d say treat it as normally and naturally as possible. Children tend to react to a situation in the manner that it is presented to them.
I still remember when I watched this particular episode of Friends where Chandler and Monica visit Phoebe’s friends to discuss adoption and Chandler accidentally tells the child that he is adopted. I was really annoyed and stopped watching the series for a while. I got over that eventually though.
Some people say that you should tell your children “over and over … retell the story … celebrate it as a small second birthday.” Although I absolutely agree that it’s nothing to be ashamed of, personally, I wouldn’t want to hear it again and again or have it celebrated. No disrespect intended to anybody else’s opinions. But you should be attuned to your child’s state of mind: whether they want to talk about it a lot or not too much, do they want to discuss it only with close friends and family or if they want to share it with everybody.
There will be issues. Children will lash out with the adoption card as teenagers. There will be awkward commentary when the extended family gets together. Maybe a friend who doesn’t know could make jokes about the topic. There may be insecurities and abandonment issues. Skewed portrayals on TV shows/movies.
The whole idea is to not let it be the central focus of your life, just one of the things that you’re made of.
Jhanvi Thakkar is a writer. Read more from Quora below: