Do i tell my children i am adopted?

(84 Posts)
Sam1973 Tue 27-Sep-11 23:31:40

Does anyone think it is necessary for me to tell my children I was adopted? They are 8 and 4 which is prob a little young any way. I cant decide if they need to know or not.....

nilequeen Tue 27-Sep-11 23:50:54

If it was me I'd def. tell them and ASAP. If you tell them when they're young then they'll always know and it won't be a big deal. It can be something really simple..."When I was a little girl I had a mummy and daddy, but they couldn't look after me, so a new mummy and daddy came along who loved me so much".

My husband's family is a bit complicated in terms of half brothers and sisters. Although my daughter is only 3, she already knows the basic gist.

Did you always know you were adopted?

wheredidmyoldlifego Tue 27-Sep-11 23:57:39

Hi Sam1973,
I'm also adopted and have a 6yo son who I have told 'mummy is adopted' over and over (not all the time, just as and when we talk about families).

And I've also tentatively described his Grandad and Granny as 'mummy's adoptive parents who I adore and brought me up. Need to do the prep as we may meet my natural mother at some point, so don't want to freak him out.

But I've found the more times he hears adopted, adopt, etc, he will understand without it being an emotive issue later in life.
Good luck

Kewcumber Wed 28-Sep-11 01:06:51

yes

8 and 4 is not too young.

8 is nearly too old IMVHO.

Ittybittysmum Wed 28-Sep-11 04:49:32

I always knew my mum was adopted, so I must have been told when very young. It's actually terribly important information to have when it comes to medical issues later on in life, so they'll have to find out some day. I think it would be harder to tell a teen!
FWIW, I'm glad I always knew.

hairypotter Wed 28-Sep-11 05:18:53

This is something I have considered myself. I am adopted, my dd's are 12 and 8 and don't know. My parents both died before dd's were born and it just didn't occur to me to tell them. My parents were my parents, I will never look for the women who gave birth to me because I simply am not interested.

Do my children need to know? I really don't know. I think because I have never said anything before now, there is no point. Subconsciously I think I am betraying my mum and dad which is silly but I can't change how I feel.

I can't see me telling them, it wouldn't benefit them (wrt medical history, as I don't forsee contact, I won't have any details) and tbh, I get fairly emotional when I do talk about it. It's not something they would stumble across either as I have no other family members who could spill the beans as it were.

Lilka Wed 28-Sep-11 07:32:31

I think it's best they are told, and I think 8 is definitely not too young. The thing is, they well might find out later on anyway, if they do any family history research they might try getting hold of their parents documents. I have both my parents birth certificates, and its a bit of a giveaway if you search and there is no birth certificate for one of your parents. And if they then thought to try adoption certiifcates, they'd probably find it. And might feel unhappy they wern't told. And of course, if some hereditary illness shows its face, its not such a good idea to be passing of the wrong medical history as your own. Its far better to be able to say 'I'm sorry I don't know my medical history' than to say something that isn't true

I doubt it will bother them hugely Sam. They'll probably just absorb it maybe with a couple of questions

Bubbaluv Wed 28-Sep-11 07:53:16

It wont bother the little one at all. The eight yo will probably be full of questions, but so long as you don't present it as a major issue then I doubt it will be one.

On the other hand if you don't tell them until they are older they may well feel a bit deceived. If you don't tell them at all then they may feel angry.

Imagine your sitting in the GPs with your teen and the doctors says to you - "is there any history of X is your family?"

BastardDog Wed 28-Sep-11 08:04:13

I am not adopted, but my children are. They are 11 & 10. They have always known they are adopted, but it didn't 'mean' anything to them until they were about 9. They just didn't have the cognitive ability to understand what it meant until then. 9 & 10 were an age of lots of questions as they grappled with understanding.

I think you should tell them by dropping the odd comment here and there. I wouldnt expect any understanding of what you are telling from the 4 year old. It might be confusing for the 8 year old. Old enough to understand the words, but not grasp the meaning iyswim.

Also bare in mind that for some young children the concept of adoption can be very unsettling. They may think they could be moved from you to a new family, in a sort of 'well if it happened to mum it could happen to me' way.

Good luck.

TheFowlAndThePussycat Wed 28-Sep-11 08:12:24

My mum grew up in a children's home, although her parents were part of her (& later my) life. It was all talked about fairly matter-of-factly when I was a child which I think was very important to me as I know that I processed the information and it's implications throughout my childhood, in small pieces, if you see what I mean. In her teens she was fostered by her much older sister, so my aunt was also like my grandmother in some ways.

We are currently wondering if we should tell dd1 who is 4 about my dh's dad who died when he was very young. She has been close to asking a few times (in that I think she is beginning to understand that she has an extra set of relatives!) so the question is do we wait to be asked or do we offer the information?

Tis all very complicated.

ForYourDreamsAreChina Wed 28-Sep-11 08:17:13

Yes, tell them soon, and make it a normal part of who you are, and who they are.

My Dad was adopted, and I was told when I was 16 by my grandmother,and I was very hurt that I hadn't been told before.

My Dad's biological parents mean nothing to him, he has never had any desire to know anything about them, and consequently I feel the same. But it was a bit shocking to find out at 16. The saddest thing (momentarily) was thinking my beloved grandparents weren't really my grandparents. But I soon realised that they were. Like they were my dad's parents. DNA means nothing. It's the people who love you and care for you who matter.

Gay40 Wed 28-Sep-11 08:17:13

I'm usually of the opinion that children should be told the truth about such things, in an age appropriate way.

hester Wed 28-Sep-11 08:17:54

I would tell them. They probably won't be very interested, but it is better if these things are never a secret.

badgerhead Wed 28-Sep-11 11:38:42

I'm also adopted & my dd's have been aware from very early on that I am. They adore my half of the family & it doesn't worry them one bit that I'm not biologically related to Nanny & their Uncle. Also for me they are (& were, my father passed on 2 years ago) my family & although I know my biological parents names I have no real inclination to try & meet my father, (I know my mother died) as was adopted as a baby & have no idea if he ever remarried or whether I have any siblings.

Maryz Wed 28-Sep-11 11:53:27

There is a thread on her with somone who found out when she was a young adult and it really affected her relationship with her grandparents (her mother's adoptive parents). She no longer felt part of the family, and iirc her cousins all knew before she did, and she felt rejected and left out. I'll try and find the thread.

My opinion is that being honest is always best, and telling earlier is better than later. That way the children don't remember being told, they just know.

There is a lot of negative coverage of adoption in news/books/films and it is important that children have a sense of adoption as being "a good thing" before they realise that other people don't always see it that way, if that makes sense.

GooseyLoosey Wed 28-Sep-11 13:09:36

DH is adopted and we discussed whether we should tell the dcs.

I have a friend whose father was adopted and she did not discover this until her late 20s. It shook her sense of who she was and caused her feel her parent had been keeping a huge secret from her.

As a result, we decided to tell the dcs early on so it is always part of their lives and is never a big revelation. I slipped it into a conversation as not a big deal. They were curious and talked about it for a few days. It has seldom come up since and is just part of their lives.

Yourefired Wed 28-Sep-11 13:14:28

I am adopted and told my children very early, when it came up in conversation at ages 4 and 5. The only upset was to my mum, who didn't want them to know. I only found this out after the event. I wish I had discussed it with her before, not to change what I did, but to understand her feelings better.

auntevil Wed 28-Sep-11 15:09:11

I am adopted and have recently mad contact with my BM. We used this as a springboard for the 'adoption' conversation with my children as I have been given photos of my birth family.
My 4 year old didn't register much - but may recognise the word if it is brought up again.
My 6 year old just said 'oh' - very matter of fact.
My 8 year old told me that he knew what adoption was as he had adopted a puffle on club penguin. He then asked how much grandma had paid for me! grin
From questions he's asked, the 8 year old has a genuine understanding of what an adoption is. The others at least won't find it a shock if and when they meet my BM.
I grew up always knowing that i was adopted, but i can honestly say that there was never one point where i remember being told. I think it's the best way personally - as questions about families often are raised in later life and then people feel cheated, or kept out of the loop if they have no prior knowledge - however basic.

harrietthespook Wed 28-Sep-11 17:10:50

I'm adopted and haven't decided what to tell my nearly 7 year old DD. Younger dd is 3.

I posted on that other thread. My situation is very complicated as I know it would upset my mother and we also don't live in the same country and don't want my DCs growing up thinking that my parents are not her 'real grandparents.' I could handle this better if we were living in the smae country and they saw them more often. When I was growing up my parents were open about this and I have always known I was adopted. However, bizarrely my mother, who moved to another location 15 years ago and made very close frends there, stopped telling them that I was adopted. So, she obviously has some sort of issue with it now. My mother has also recently lost HER mother and has been going through treatment for various illnesses.

I guess I don't quite agree that finding out a parent was adopted is the same thing as finding out that YOU YOURSELF were adopted and never told. The person that got upset about it on the other thread had other issues around the situation. I think it does depend on under what circumstnaces you find out. I am trying to reflect on what the right thing to do is and the timing, which is sensitive for us. DD1 is also old enough to wonder if she could be 'adopted out' which is why I think you ahve to be very very careful about using language like: My mother/parents couldn't take care of me. DD is seriously just the sort to go: "There's a recession on...what if you can't look after me."

harrietthespook Wed 28-Sep-11 17:13:57

Also the medical history stuff - what would you REALLY do differently? if you knew. My mother's problems, for example, have nothing to do with hereditary factors. This happens to loads of people and the fact of being adopted shouldn't affect how you look after yourself. That medical history thing is a red herring in most cases. It also relies on the agency having complete records, which they often don't. I was adopted forty years ago and plenty of problems could have come up in the intervening years. I happen to know my grandmother died of some form of cancer and my BM's brother died of a heart attack at 60 and all that is on my file from the agency is ashtma!

auntevil Wed 28-Sep-11 17:28:44

Harrietthespook - I agree that it is not the same if it is not you directly adopted, but I think it still matters to them. I have always found it difficult in Drs surgeries when they say 'do your family have 'x' as well' type questions in front of the children. I have always said that we do not know that side of the family - but of course the kids know we know that side of the family. I've also used the word 'adopted' in front of them at the same question. It wouldn't take many years before one of them asked 'why does no-one else in the family have 'x' as well.
There is nothing in my adoption file to suggest any genetic conditions - she was very young and probably didn't know much. Having found her, and asked her, it has been very enlightening - and answered a few major questions.
I would also say that some cancers can be genetical more likely - such as breast cancer. It is often found in close relatives of each generation. BMs may not have had much knowledge of the prevalence in their families until they are much older. Would you not like to know this if it meant that you might be able to protect your own children better - let alone yourself?

harrietthespook Wed 28-Sep-11 17:32:36

NO, because I would go for mammograms anyway. There is no breast cancer history in my mom's family and she has it. You should do all those screenings regardless.

harrietthespook Wed 28-Sep-11 17:36:32

What you are talking about as well, to fill in the gaps, involves a level of searching to get more ifnormation, potentially, that not all people feel willing and able to do and you may find that the birth parents are unresponsive to overtures even if it's ONLY to do with medical history. Or they may no longer be alive, or not contactable, etc. You could drive yourself mad then 'not knowing' - to take care of yourself health wise involves lots of things, not only knowing your family's genetic history.

auntevil Wed 28-Sep-11 17:40:06

For me it was another piece of the jigsaw that I can give to my DSs consultant - that might help. It is my dearest wish that my DS do not go through years and years of tests like I did.
I had just meant that if I had breast cancer in the family, i would have most definitely made sure that they were aware at an early age to check, have any lump checked whatever their age.
But then maybe there should be a disclaimer in adoptions - any major illnesses need to be reported by the BP and placed on the file?

harrietthespook Wed 28-Sep-11 17:44:05

This is a bad example in one sense as I would tell my daughter to check for loads of things anyway regardless of what we know about our history. And how can it possibly hurt you healthwise to behave as if there is ahistory of heart disase in the family and live your life as healthily as possible, etc.

But then I am the sort to be the very first in the queue with them for the cervical cancer vacinne.

If YOU have a longstanding problem I can totally see your point though.

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