I often have conversations with adoptive parents who are struggling with when and how to tell their child he or she is adopted. Because Adoption Law Group completes lots of stepparent adoptions, many of these conversations are with moms wondering when and how and if they should tell their child that their “dad” is really their stepdad. My basic reply is always, “the sooner the better.” That’s been based both on anecdotal evidence and a quick review of articles out there on open adoption. Not to mention ancestry.com! Now, there’s strong research to support the idea that telling children that they are adopted before the age of three corelates to increased happiness and satisfaction for adoptees. A July 2019 article published in The Atlantic, discusses the recent findings of researcher Amanda Baden and her team, who conclude that “the disclosure of adoptee status after the age of 3 could have negative consequences on an adoptee’s future life satisfaction and mental health.” One possible reason posited comes from professor Denise Cuthbert, who the article quotes: “Late discovery adoptees report—amongst other things—high levels of grief and a sense of betrayal at what they perceive to be the ‘lie’ perpetrated against them.” This resonates with me on a personal level. My husband and I learned some troubling facts about my son’s adoption via email last year. I wanted to share it with him (after all, that’s what I tell everyone else to do), but wanted to be very intentional about it and was worried about the effect the disclosure might have on him. After speaking with a counselor, a few friends, and the Lord, about it, I shared the email with him. By this time, the email was about three months old. His reaction was generally positive and the only concern he expressed was when he saw the date on the initial email to me. “You’ve had this since February?!” Thankfully, he was gracious concerning my delay and chose to share his unfolding story shortly thereafter with the rest of our family.
For ideas about when and how to share your child’s adoption story, click here.
The full text of the Atlantic article can be accessed here: