Talking About Birth Parents

Things for adoptive parents to consider.


Every adoption begins when a birth mother makes that most difficult of decisions. And no matter what path you choose to adopt your child — whether through an open domestic infant adoption or through an international adoption with little to no information about where your child came from — birth parents will be a presence in your child’s life because they are part of your child’s story. As you consider welcoming a child into your family, also take some time to consider your child’s birth parents, how you will talk about them with your child, and how you will honor the role they played in your adoption story.

Here are a few thoughts to start with:

In almost every case, birth parents choose adoption because they are unable to parent, not because they don’t love or care about their child. Choosing adoption is often the greatest act of sacrifice and love a person can make.—| Whether they are known or unknown, birth parents will be a part of your child’s life and who they are.

— Whether they share their feelings or not, adopted children do think of their birth parents and do have questions. It’s important to create space so kids feel safe to ask questions and for you to answer their questions as honestly as is age appropriate.

— It is okay to not have all the answers, and important to accept that you may never have answers to all of your child’s questions.

— As parents, we tend to try to fix things. But when your child is grieving, it’s important to let them experience sadness and to convey that these are very normal feelings to have. If you convey that your child should be happy now because they have wonderful adoptive parents, they will likely bottle up their feelings of sadness.

— The most important thing you can do is to support your child, to give them space and time to express their thoughts and emotions, and to let them grieve the loss of their birth parents.

— When your child reaches an age when they can begin a search for their birth family, you can initiate the conversation, but it’s important to let your child take the lead on how they want to move forward.

— Talking with your child about their birth parents may be uncomfortable. But to truly be present for your child, you will need to process and come to terms with the role your child’s birth parents played — and continue to play — in your child’s life. Embrace the discomfort, for the sake of yourself, your child and your child’s birth parents.

For more thoughts on birth parents, check out the five-part series “The Forgotten Voice of Adoption” at holtinternational.org/pas/newsletter

3 Comments

  1. Judith Golden says:

    I am originally Yang, Jung-Min. I have been adopted 30 years ago. I remember first 5 years of my life, I knew that I was an orphan and Ilsan was my temporary home for few of those years. I’m now 36 years old, I have been married twice, my name now is Judith Jung-Min Umberger Golden. I would like to get in contact with Molly, Koi-Nea the house-mother and my birth mother of whom I do not know her name. I also would like to know my real birth date if that is possible.

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