Telling Children The Truth

Dear Sara,

I adopted a baby girl when she was six months old. She has always known that she was adopted. She is now twelve and wants to know about her birth parents. It’s not a pretty story. The birth mother was about fifteen, running the streets, prostituting herself and ended up in juvenile court for breaking into houses and stealing things. She didn’t know who the father of her baby was and didn’t want a baby. I feel fortunate to have this beautiful daughter and love her very much. How do I tell her about this background?

Dear Whitney,

You first have to decide how much she is ready to hear. In this day and age twelve year olds aren’t really naive as they used to be. If she has seen movies like “Precious” then she might be able to understand that not everyone has a perfect home and do their best just to survive. If you think she will understand and not be upset then go on and tell her the truth.

On the other hand if you think she will be upset and think less of herself, you might want to minimize the truth and wait awhile for the whole truth. Don’t lie to her because she will eventually find out. Just answer questions that she asks as well as you can. Let her know how much you love her and how glad you were when she came into your life.

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