Talking about adoption with your adopted child is a slow process and this may start as soon as possible - ideally, when the child is about three years old, and, certainly, before the child begins school - even though the child may not understand the full implications of the concept.  The story of her adoption and her life slowly unfolds to her just as she is beginning to understand reality.

The word adoption should be used around the house frequently and non-hesitantly so that the child finds nothing unusual about it and sees it as synonymous to being loved and wanted.

What you say is not as important as how you say it.   If the child senses tension and anxiety in your tone, she may not want to hear about it anymore. An appropriate thing will be to give the child a big hug and kiss when you are happy with something she has done and say, “We are so glad that we adopted you”.

It is very important that adoptive parents yourselves explain the fact of adoption to their child - through stories or examples. For a child to learn this personal information from an outsider can be quite traumatic. The child may find it difficult to trust you any longer.

A child cannot really begin to understand adoption until she learns that a baby come from mother’s tummy. As she keeps learning about both the process of birth and adoption (probably between the ages of three and six), she starts asking questions like “If all babies come from mother’s tummy, which mother’s tummy did I come from?”  It is important to give simple and truthful answers to questions that your child asks, no matter how painful it is. The child must be helped to understand that the woman whose tummy she was in gave her birth and, then, for some unavoidable problems of her own, could not look after her and wanted her to have a happy home, and that you are her ‘real’ mother now and for ever and that now she is part of your family. In this way, she will develop and maintain a sense of belonging to you as her parents.  You should never make negative comments about the birth parents or suggest that they abandoned her easily.  Some adopted children may suffer from a sense of insecurity if they feel that their ‘birth’ parents did not love them enough.