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New Report Provides Recommendations about Discussing Adoption with Children

New Report Provides Recommendations about Discussing Adoption with Children
January 9, 2013 James Greenier

Adoptive parents frequently have questions about what information to communicate with adoptive children about their adoption status, as well as the best manner to communicate such information.  While our Kansas based adoption law firm handles the legal aspects of adoption, we understand the importance of such issues for adoptive parents and work closely with mental health and child development experts.  Our Wichita adoption law firm tries to provide access to the resources our clients need to smoothly merge their new family.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers some interesting new insights on whether, when and how to communicate with children about the adoption process.  The organization recommends that parents inform children that they are adopted and that pediatricians assist adoptive parents with the special challenges that can be involved in raising an adopted child.

According to the report produced by the organization, adoptive parents should be candid about a child’s adoptive status and the nature of the adoption.  While the authors of the report did not expressly indicate the appropriate age to communicate this information, they suggest that it is generally accepted that children do not understand the distinction between an adoptive and biological family before they are at least three-years-old.

The AAP report also provides some specific recommendations about terminology when communicating with adoptive children:

  • Avoid use of the term “natural parents” because of the implication that adoption is unnatural
  • Discourage the impression that a child was “unwanted” by indicating that the biological parents developed an “adoption plan” rather than “gave you up for adoption”
  • Avoid referring to an adoptive child solely based on their adoptive status, birth in a foreign country, or race
  • Refer to siblings in the adoptive family as “real siblings”

The authors of the report suggest that pediatricians should be particularly aware of potential emotional and psychological challenges that face adoptive children when they start school.  The curriculum of many schools may include family trees, tracing of genetic traits and other family history based projects that can be uncomfortable for adoptive children.

Although only two percent of all children are adopted, this percentage is likely to increase with more same sex couples adopting children.  Wichita, KS adoption attorney Thomas C. McDowell has been practicing law for over two decades.  We provide legal representation in agency, foreign and step-parent adoption. So please call us today at 316-633-4322 or submit an online case evaluation form.