Do i tell my children i am adopted?

(84 Posts)
Sam1973 Tue 27-Sep-11 23:31:40

Does anyone think it is necessary for me to tell my children I was adopted? They are 8 and 4 which is prob a little young any way. I cant decide if they need to know or not.....

nilequeen Tue 27-Sep-11 23:50:54

If it was me I'd def. tell them and ASAP. If you tell them when they're young then they'll always know and it won't be a big deal. It can be something really simple..."When I was a little girl I had a mummy and daddy, but they couldn't look after me, so a new mummy and daddy came along who loved me so much".

My husband's family is a bit complicated in terms of half brothers and sisters. Although my daughter is only 3, she already knows the basic gist.

Did you always know you were adopted?

wheredidmyoldlifego Tue 27-Sep-11 23:57:39

Hi Sam1973,
I'm also adopted and have a 6yo son who I have told 'mummy is adopted' over and over (not all the time, just as and when we talk about families).

And I've also tentatively described his Grandad and Granny as 'mummy's adoptive parents who I adore and brought me up. Need to do the prep as we may meet my natural mother at some point, so don't want to freak him out.

But I've found the more times he hears adopted, adopt, etc, he will understand without it being an emotive issue later in life.
Good luck

Kewcumber Wed 28-Sep-11 01:06:51


8 and 4 is not too young.

8 is nearly too old IMVHO.

Ittybittysmum Wed 28-Sep-11 04:49:32

I always knew my mum was adopted, so I must have been told when very young. It's actually terribly important information to have when it comes to medical issues later on in life, so they'll have to find out some day. I think it would be harder to tell a teen!
FWIW, I'm glad I always knew.

hairypotter Wed 28-Sep-11 05:18:53

This is something I have considered myself. I am adopted, my dd's are 12 and 8 and don't know. My parents both died before dd's were born and it just didn't occur to me to tell them. My parents were my parents, I will never look for the women who gave birth to me because I simply am not interested.

Do my children need to know? I really don't know. I think because I have never said anything before now, there is no point. Subconsciously I think I am betraying my mum and dad which is silly but I can't change how I feel.

I can't see me telling them, it wouldn't benefit them (wrt medical history, as I don't forsee contact, I won't have any details) and tbh, I get fairly emotional when I do talk about it. It's not something they would stumble across either as I have no other family members who could spill the beans as it were.

Lilka Wed 28-Sep-11 07:32:31

I think it's best they are told, and I think 8 is definitely not too young. The thing is, they well might find out later on anyway, if they do any family history research they might try getting hold of their parents documents. I have both my parents birth certificates, and its a bit of a giveaway if you search and there is no birth certificate for one of your parents. And if they then thought to try adoption certiifcates, they'd probably find it. And might feel unhappy they wern't told. And of course, if some hereditary illness shows its face, its not such a good idea to be passing of the wrong medical history as your own. Its far better to be able to say 'I'm sorry I don't know my medical history' than to say something that isn't true

I doubt it will bother them hugely Sam. They'll probably just absorb it maybe with a couple of questions

Bubbaluv Wed 28-Sep-11 07:53:16

It wont bother the little one at all. The eight yo will probably be full of questions, but so long as you don't present it as a major issue then I doubt it will be one.

On the other hand if you don't tell them until they are older they may well feel a bit deceived. If you don't tell them at all then they may feel angry.

Imagine your sitting in the GPs with your teen and the doctors says to you - "is there any history of X is your family?"

BastardDog Wed 28-Sep-11 08:04:13

I am not adopted, but my children are. They are 11 & 10. They have always known they are adopted, but it didn't 'mean' anything to them until they were about 9. They just didn't have the cognitive ability to understand what it meant until then. 9 & 10 were an age of lots of questions as they grappled with understanding.

I think you should tell them by dropping the odd comment here and there. I wouldnt expect any understanding of what you are telling from the 4 year old. It might be confusing for the 8 year old. Old enough to understand the words, but not grasp the meaning iyswim.

Also bare in mind that for some young children the concept of adoption can be very unsettling. They may think they could be moved from you to a new family, in a sort of 'well if it happened to mum it could happen to me' way.

Good luck.

TheFowlAndThePussycat Wed 28-Sep-11 08:12:24

My mum grew up in a children's home, although her parents were part of her (& later my) life. It was all talked about fairly matter-of-factly when I was a child which I think was very important to me as I know that I processed the information and it's implications throughout my childhood, in small pieces, if you see what I mean. In her teens she was fostered by her much older sister, so my aunt was also like my grandmother in some ways.

We are currently wondering if we should tell dd1 who is 4 about my dh's dad who died when he was very young. She has been close to asking a few times (in that I think she is beginning to understand that she has an extra set of relatives!) so the question is do we wait to be asked or do we offer the information?

Tis all very complicated.

ForYourDreamsAreChina Wed 28-Sep-11 08:17:13

Yes, tell them soon, and make it a normal part of who you are, and who they are.

My Dad was adopted, and I was told when I was 16 by my grandmother,and I was very hurt that I hadn't been told before.

My Dad's biological parents mean nothing to him, he has never had any desire to know anything about them, and consequently I feel the same. But it was a bit shocking to find out at 16. The saddest thing (momentarily) was thinking my beloved grandparents weren't really my grandparents. But I soon realised that they were. Like they were my dad's parents. DNA means nothing. It's the people who love you and care for you who matter.

Gay40 Wed 28-Sep-11 08:17:13

I'm usually of the opinion that children should be told the truth about such things, in an age appropriate way.

hester Wed 28-Sep-11 08:17:54

I would tell them. They probably won't be very interested, but it is better if these things are never a secret.

badgerhead Wed 28-Sep-11 11:38:42

I'm also adopted & my dd's have been aware from very early on that I am. They adore my half of the family & it doesn't worry them one bit that I'm not biologically related to Nanny & their Uncle. Also for me they are (& were, my father passed on 2 years ago) my family & although I know my biological parents names I have no real inclination to try & meet my father, (I know my mother died) as was adopted as a baby & have no idea if he ever remarried or whether I have any siblings.

Maryz Wed 28-Sep-11 11:53:27

There is a thread on her with somone who found out when she was a young adult and it really affected her relationship with her grandparents (her mother's adoptive parents). She no longer felt part of the family, and iirc her cousins all knew before she did, and she felt rejected and left out. I'll try and find the thread.

My opinion is that being honest is always best, and telling earlier is better than later. That way the children don't remember being told, they just know.

There is a lot of negative coverage of adoption in news/books/films and it is important that children have a sense of adoption as being "a good thing" before they realise that other people don't always see it that way, if that makes sense.

GooseyLoosey Wed 28-Sep-11 13:09:36

DH is adopted and we discussed whether we should tell the dcs.

I have a friend whose father was adopted and she did not discover this until her late 20s. It shook her sense of who she was and caused her feel her parent had been keeping a huge secret from her.

As a result, we decided to tell the dcs early on so it is always part of their lives and is never a big revelation. I slipped it into a conversation as not a big deal. They were curious and talked about it for a few days. It has seldom come up since and is just part of their lives.

Yourefired Wed 28-Sep-11 13:14:28

I am adopted and told my children very early, when it came up in conversation at ages 4 and 5. The only upset was to my mum, who didn't want them to know. I only found this out after the event. I wish I had discussed it with her before, not to change what I did, but to understand her feelings better.

auntevil Wed 28-Sep-11 15:09:11

I am adopted and have recently mad contact with my BM. We used this as a springboard for the 'adoption' conversation with my children as I have been given photos of my birth family.
My 4 year old didn't register much - but may recognise the word if it is brought up again.
My 6 year old just said 'oh' - very matter of fact.
My 8 year old told me that he knew what adoption was as he had adopted a puffle on club penguin. He then asked how much grandma had paid for me! grin
From questions he's asked, the 8 year old has a genuine understanding of what an adoption is. The others at least won't find it a shock if and when they meet my BM.
I grew up always knowing that i was adopted, but i can honestly say that there was never one point where i remember being told. I think it's the best way personally - as questions about families often are raised in later life and then people feel cheated, or kept out of the loop if they have no prior knowledge - however basic.

harrietthespook Wed 28-Sep-11 17:10:50

I'm adopted and haven't decided what to tell my nearly 7 year old DD. Younger dd is 3.

I posted on that other thread. My situation is very complicated as I know it would upset my mother and we also don't live in the same country and don't want my DCs growing up thinking that my parents are not her 'real grandparents.' I could handle this better if we were living in the smae country and they saw them more often. When I was growing up my parents were open about this and I have always known I was adopted. However, bizarrely my mother, who moved to another location 15 years ago and made very close frends there, stopped telling them that I was adopted. So, she obviously has some sort of issue with it now. My mother has also recently lost HER mother and has been going through treatment for various illnesses.

I guess I don't quite agree that finding out a parent was adopted is the same thing as finding out that YOU YOURSELF were adopted and never told. The person that got upset about it on the other thread had other issues around the situation. I think it does depend on under what circumstnaces you find out. I am trying to reflect on what the right thing to do is and the timing, which is sensitive for us. DD1 is also old enough to wonder if she could be 'adopted out' which is why I think you ahve to be very very careful about using language like: My mother/parents couldn't take care of me. DD is seriously just the sort to go: "There's a recession on...what if you can't look after me."

harrietthespook Wed 28-Sep-11 17:13:57

Also the medical history stuff - what would you REALLY do differently? if you knew. My mother's problems, for example, have nothing to do with hereditary factors. This happens to loads of people and the fact of being adopted shouldn't affect how you look after yourself. That medical history thing is a red herring in most cases. It also relies on the agency having complete records, which they often don't. I was adopted forty years ago and plenty of problems could have come up in the intervening years. I happen to know my grandmother died of some form of cancer and my BM's brother died of a heart attack at 60 and all that is on my file from the agency is ashtma!

auntevil Wed 28-Sep-11 17:28:44

Harrietthespook - I agree that it is not the same if it is not you directly adopted, but I think it still matters to them. I have always found it difficult in Drs surgeries when they say 'do your family have 'x' as well' type questions in front of the children. I have always said that we do not know that side of the family - but of course the kids know we know that side of the family. I've also used the word 'adopted' in front of them at the same question. It wouldn't take many years before one of them asked 'why does no-one else in the family have 'x' as well.
There is nothing in my adoption file to suggest any genetic conditions - she was very young and probably didn't know much. Having found her, and asked her, it has been very enlightening - and answered a few major questions.
I would also say that some cancers can be genetical more likely - such as breast cancer. It is often found in close relatives of each generation. BMs may not have had much knowledge of the prevalence in their families until they are much older. Would you not like to know this if it meant that you might be able to protect your own children better - let alone yourself?

harrietthespook Wed 28-Sep-11 17:32:36

NO, because I would go for mammograms anyway. There is no breast cancer history in my mom's family and she has it. You should do all those screenings regardless.

harrietthespook Wed 28-Sep-11 17:36:32

What you are talking about as well, to fill in the gaps, involves a level of searching to get more ifnormation, potentially, that not all people feel willing and able to do and you may find that the birth parents are unresponsive to overtures even if it's ONLY to do with medical history. Or they may no longer be alive, or not contactable, etc. You could drive yourself mad then 'not knowing' - to take care of yourself health wise involves lots of things, not only knowing your family's genetic history.

auntevil Wed 28-Sep-11 17:40:06

For me it was another piece of the jigsaw that I can give to my DSs consultant - that might help. It is my dearest wish that my DS do not go through years and years of tests like I did.
I had just meant that if I had breast cancer in the family, i would have most definitely made sure that they were aware at an early age to check, have any lump checked whatever their age.
But then maybe there should be a disclaimer in adoptions - any major illnesses need to be reported by the BP and placed on the file?

harrietthespook Wed 28-Sep-11 17:44:05

This is a bad example in one sense as I would tell my daughter to check for loads of things anyway regardless of what we know about our history. And how can it possibly hurt you healthwise to behave as if there is ahistory of heart disase in the family and live your life as healthily as possible, etc.

But then I am the sort to be the very first in the queue with them for the cervical cancer vacinne.

If YOU have a longstanding problem I can totally see your point though.

fudgesmummy Wed 28-Sep-11 17:57:30

I am adopted and told my dcs when they were 5 and 8.

I hadn't really thought about it until my ds was watching gmtv and Mr Motivator (shows how long ago it was!!!) was talking about tracing his birth mother. My ds (the 8 yr old) turned to me and said "that's silly- no one would give their baby away would they?" I said actually....!!

his first question? maybe Mr Motivators mum is your mum? (unlikely darling as we're very different colours!)

his second question? has any one told grandma? (my adopted mum!!!!)

they both took it very much in their stride and we only had 1 incident with my very stroppy dd telling my mum she couldn't tell her what to do as she wasn't her real grandma. my mums reply was i've got a piece of paper that says your mum is my daughter so that makes you my granddaughter so you will do what you are jolly well told!

To answer you original question op, yes I think you should tell them-no question

harrietthespook Wed 28-Sep-11 18:09:15

My mother would lose it if one my DDs did that. Get back on the plane to America and brood about it to no end. We would never hear the end of it.

fudgesmummy Wed 28-Sep-11 18:14:16

harrietthespook-actualy my mum and dd are very much a match for each other!!!

coincidently my dds name is Harriet!!! grin

harrietthespook Wed 28-Sep-11 18:19:14

Harriet's a good name. Mine's not Harriet though - moniker is after the book Harriet the Spy. But I guess that is a topic for another (current) thread!!

Kewcumber Wed 28-Sep-11 19:35:00

When you all (those of you who were adopted) met your now DH's - did you tell them Evetnaully that you were adopted? If so, why? Because they don't really need to know.

It isn't really about needing to know is it? Its still relatively unusual to have been adopted and if I discovered that my mother had been adopted, I think I would truly have felt she was keeping it from me and would be very hurt by that.

It shouldn;t be something that is kept as a secret - its nothing shameful. Why would you not tell tehm in a natural way when the subject comes up eg when they meet someone who is pregnant.

Of course it is private but it should not be a secret and making a conscious decision not to tell them definitely (IMO) puts it in the "secret" territory.

fudgesmummy Wed 28-Sep-11 19:50:20

kewcumber-I don't"remember " telling" my dh that I'm adopted-but it was 27 years ago lol!! I've never been shy of telling people-i'm a very ordinary ,boring , unexciting person and I guess its quite nice having something that sets me apart from other people IYKWIM

ThatsNotMyBabyBelly Wed 28-Sep-11 19:55:07

I always knew my mum was adopted. She found out by accident when she was 8, and that her auntie was really her mum and her adopive mum was really her great aunt.

She always told me, very tongue in cheek, that she had been chosen but she just got stuck with us smile

I think the sooner you tell them the better, it will never be an issue then.

exoticfruits Wed 28-Sep-11 20:04:28

I would tell them from the very start-much easier if 'they have always known'.

Bubbaluv Thu 29-Sep-11 06:36:03

I agree with Kewc,
not telling is a lie of ommission which may not seem a big deal now, but it's the sort of thing a teenager can turn into outright war. You can justify not telling in all sorts of ways I'm sure, but if I now found out that my Mum was adopted and she had never told me I would feel hurt (at her lack of trust in me) and betrayed.

harrietthespook Thu 29-Sep-11 10:17:29

Here's the thing: There seem to be so many 'stakeholders' in my adoption who seem to feel that their feelings come first. There is always going to be someone who was pissed I didn't tell them at all, or tell them earlier, and another person who feels the same way because I did tell, or told at the wrong time. So, now I just feel okay about doing what's right for me in this situation.

GooseyLoosey Thu 29-Sep-11 12:02:17

kewcumber, I agree completely. My friend felt betrayed by her father for not telling her he was adopted. She felt he had not been honest with her. It took a while for her to get over it.

My children were 5 and 7 and we had been looking for an opportunity to just "slip it in" to coverersation for about 6 months before one came up. They were watching "Sunny Patch" which is about a spider family who seem to have children of every insect type. The dcs asked how that could be the case and I said "they must be adopted - just like daddy" (dh and I had agreed our strategy in advance should the opportunity arise).

The first question from ds (then 7) was who is daddy's mummy then - we were absolutely clear that it was the granny we knew and that daddy had no idea who had given birth to him. Granny was his mum and thir grandmother and there was nothing more to it.

sandyballs Thu 29-Sep-11 12:14:22

I'm adopted and I told my twin DD's when they were very small, probably 4 years old, it all seemed to come up very naturally. They were chatting to each other about daddy coming out of Nana J's tummy and mummy coming out of Nana T's tummy and I agreed then suddenly thought, no that isn't the case and briefly told them that my real mummy was very young and had no money and decided to let someone else bring me up so Nana T and Grandad P adopted me, as they weren't able to have babies of their own. They just took in their stride, no big deal at all.

My girls are 10 now and over the years one of them in particular has mentioned it, asked if I will trace my real mum, asked if there were twins in my real family, various things. I can't imagine them not knowing, it wouldn't be right.

My adopted brother didn't tell his boys until they were almost teens and they were upset that they weren't told earlier. He only told them then because my girls knew and I said to him they were likely to mention it one day and it would be a shock to his boys.

sandyballs Thu 29-Sep-11 12:16:29

Only one aspect of my adoption upsets my girls and that is the fact that I spent my first Christmas in a children's home, it doesn't bother me at all but it really upsets them to think of me as a baby, having my first christmas without a loving home and mummy and daddy, bless them.

hanahsaunt Thu 29-Sep-11 12:17:33

Both my grandmothers were adopted. My mum's mum only told my mum when she (my granny) was in her mid 80s as she saw it as something terribly shameful. My mum was really sad that her mum hadn't confided in her sooner - not because she has any desire to meet biological relatives (quite the contrary and was very, very close to my granny's sister) but because it was a part of her mum's story.

My mum told me a few years later and by the time I started on family tree stuff my granny had passed away and there was no opportunity to tell her that she wasn't the runt, the child too many to feed etc as had been her perception (she felt very stigmatised at being adopted) but she was adopted because she was orphaned at 2 and all the children were shared out to other families.

So, essentially, why wouldn't you tell them? It is a part of who you are.

bangcrash Thu 29-Sep-11 13:00:24

I told mine early having read about someone who found out later and reacted badly. It comes up fairly often when talking about family history, resemblances, pregnancies etc. I would feel like I couldn't be open.

My children know my birth family too so we talk through wheo met who when and how we all relate to each other.

Harriet your mum sounds difficult.

harrietthespook Thu 29-Sep-11 13:44:01

She's become very sensitive about it in the last few years, I don't really know why. I have tried to ask her about but I get a gobblygook answer back. Nothing that makes any sense. I brought it up as recently as August.

I have traced my birth family and at some point I need to have this conversation with her too. She needs to know that, even though I am not planning to contact them at the present time. But this couldn't be a worse time for her.

I get really tired of managing people's feeling about it to be honest and taking on the worry of whether the timing will be right for THEM. Part of me not telling the DCs at this point in time is I just don't want another set of people with expectations. I will tell them when I'm ready and be honest with them about why I couldn't say anything sooner.

bangcrash Thu 29-Sep-11 14:59:11

It's a shame you can't get her to talk about it properly, think it was often hard for older generations. Mine had some funny ideas and fears.

Hopefully when and if you tell your children they will just take it In their stride.

harrietthespook Thu 29-Sep-11 15:22:18

If I saw her face to face more frequently I'm sure it would be more manageable. It's just that we are face to face less than half a dozen times per year, and often in fraught situations.

OP: I do tend to agree that the earlier you can tell your children the better, it shouldn't be a secret of course, but I would also argue that you should do it at a time when you feel most able to face questions, etc. It should not be driven primarily by other people's expectations and needs

harrietthespook Thu 29-Sep-11 15:28:55

I sound like such a twat on this thread. seriously apologies, guys. I should just pay for some therapy or something.

sweetheart Thu 29-Sep-11 15:34:09

My dad is adopted and didn't tell me. My mum dropped it casually into a conversation when I was a teenager and I was really shocked. My dad doesn't talk about it at all which I found quite strange as it's a huge part of his life and found it quite unusual that he didn't want to share it with me and my siblings.

We have spoken about it since but I would have preferred for him to tell me about it than for my mum to just drop it into a random conversation one day.

bangcrash Thu 29-Sep-11 15:47:06

You don't sound like a twat...s'just complicated sometimes.

giyadas Thu 29-Sep-11 15:58:31

This thread has unnerved me slightly. I was adopted but have never told dd. It wasn't really a conscious decision, it just never came up. DD is 12 now, so it's far too late to do the early years thing.
I genuinely never gave it much thought but judging by this thread I've taken completely the wrong approach. Am now in two mind what to do.

Harriet - you haven't sounded like a twat at all.

Bugsy2 Thu 29-Sep-11 16:07:44

I'm adopted & it is a big no from me. I envisage telling my two in their late teens. I have such muddled thinking about my own adoption & lots of very conflicted feelings towards both my biological parents & my adoptive parents, that I know I would not be able to be objective with my children. As it is my children enjoy a good relationship with my parents and I would really hate for them to question that. It is bad enough that they have had to deal with their father having left & re-married, I think that every other bit of stability they can enjoy for now, should last as long as possible.
Harriet, you don't necessarily have to tell your Mum that you've traced your biological parents. Although, I always knew I was adopted, it was only discussed under duress as I got older and was always a bit of a dirty secret. I traced by biological parents when I left home but could never bring myself to discuss it with my parents.

boohoobabywho Thu 29-Sep-11 16:21:05

this isnt the same but its similar. my daughter is IVF and when she started asking where babies came from, i told her that normal mumies and daddies have a special hug, but that our special hug didnt work and we needed a doctor to help us. she understands and didnt ask for more info, but when she does we will tell her.

Bugsy2 Thu 29-Sep-11 16:26:24

boohoo, forgive me if this sounds a bit strong, but it isn't similar at all. It is a world apart. Your daughter has you & Mr BooHoo as her biological parents, regardless of the fact that you needed a bit of outside help to bring her into being. Adopted people are raised by parents they are not related to, other than legally. Up until recently, they would have had precious little information about who there biological parents were & would have had to wait until they were over 18 to be able to even try and trace them.

Maryz Thu 29-Sep-11 16:41:04

giyadas, I don't ever think there is a wrong way to deal with these things.

Some people don't talk about their adoption because it is too hurtful to talk about. Some people don't talk about it because they are happy in their adoptive family and it doesn't seem an issue that has to be talked about.

I do think that what is important is not to lie. So if asked a direct question you don't have to remember what story you told, or remember whether or not you covered something up. But (this is to giyadas and bugsy) if other family members know you can be sure that someone, someday will let it slip, and it would be well to prepare for that eventuality. You don't want your children to think it is something that they can't ask you about if they overhear family gossip.

Harriet, you don't sound like a twat. Your mum sounds pretty difficult - which I suspect is the result of the not-very-good preparation that adoptive parents got years ago. In those days they were told to take their babies home, not to tell anyone and no-one would ever find out. It has been a shock and a nasty surprise to some of them to realise that not only is there a possibility that their children will trace their families, but that their children might actually feel that there is a gap in their lives that needs filling by doing the search iyswim. It is hard on them.

Whereas those of us who adopted recently know that there is a likelihood that their children will be curious and will trace, and our efforts will go into making sure that they can satisfy their curiosity in the least painful way for all involved. Which means supporting our children, and their birth parents to facilitate a (hopefully) good future for all. Which in turn makes it a little harder for us to understand those who don't feel comfortable talking about it. We have had to get good at talking about it all, for our children's sakes!

Kewcumber Thu 29-Sep-11 16:54:13

Harriet, you don't sound like a twat at all! I always take the position that its for the adoptee to decide as ultimately they had the least control over their adoption of anyone and anything they need to do to take control back is kinda fine by me (note I do say kinda wink)

My advice to tell and as early as possible is based on -

a) studies (admittedly on adopted children rather than children of adoptees but suspect its similar) show that those children who can never remember being told (ie they were told before they could even understand what it really meant) tend to process the fact of their adoption more readily than those who can remember "the moment".

b) the OP asked "do I tell my children I was adopted"? - so I gave my opinion. She isn't compelled to do it, if she doesn't feel able but I assumed from her question that she wanted to hear what others think becasue she isn;t as certain as you about what would be the right thing for her and wants to hear what otehrs experince is. You aren't obliged to either listen to our opinions or act on them and giving her an alternative view is I guess what the thread is about.

c) within the adoption community people see adoption as a perfectly normal run of the mill thing as its just a part of the facts of your life (not that the emoticons around it are run of the mill just that the process and reality of it is a normal part of their life not something very out of the ordinary). My Aunt (now in her 60's) was adopted and my son (nearly 6) was adopted so its been in my family for such a long time that I forget that people not in the inner circle (so to speak) tend to treat it as a strange and wondrous beast. By not sharing the facts with your children you are IMVHO placing them in the outer circle and not admitting them into the inner circle is sort of how I look at it.

I wouldn't be presumptuous enough to tell an adoptee this is what they must do and would be pretty pissed off with someone without any experience telling me what it is like being infertile. However as an adopter and someone who has an adopted Aunt who has not only children but also granchildren and even great grandchildren, I would hope that my experience gives me some insight into how it can work without much fuss. My experince is that when told fairly young, most children/grandchildren are disappointingly uninterested!

NorkyButNice Thu 29-Sep-11 17:17:23

I'm adopted - DS's are 1 and 4 so I've not discussed it with them as of yet.

I can't remember when I told DH - it certainly wasn't a big deal, it just came up in conversation.

I'm in contact with a half brother (birth mother's son) and he comes to stay every few months, so I'm sure it will be discussed sooner rather than later.

Insomnia11 Thu 29-Sep-11 17:23:08

DH is adopted, I will discuss telling the girls with him (they are 6 and 2) but we'll have to bear in mind there could be some awkward moments as PIL have a wide circle of friends and acquaintances, not all of whom know DH and DSIL were adopted, and not all of DH's friends know and none of my old friends do...

auntevil Thu 29-Sep-11 17:31:55

Harrietthespook - you definitely don't sound like a twat. You've given the subject plenty of thought and made your decision as to what you think is right at the moment for you all. That's being a good parent/daughter.
There are so many different stages in life - and emotionally you can deal with different things at different times.
My initial desire to search only came about after i had children myself. I had always wondered what the BPs would be like, but not enough to look. I told my DH very soon on - well they do say that if you want to know what your wife is going to be like look at the mother! grin .
I assumed that my BM - who is only 16 years older than me - would be past child bearing age and probably with children that had left home. I hoped that now would be a time in her life that would not upset the applecart. My mum - and she will always be that - regardless of any relationship i build with my BM - is not able to understand much anymore, but had always offered her help if i had of wanted to search. Perhaps for some older people who have vested interests in the adoptive process it links to a feeling of mortality? Perhaps after a life of loving and caring, they feel that in their last phase of life that they are being left?

Sam1973 Thu 29-Sep-11 23:24:53

WOW- i never expected such a response. My difficulty is that I am basically a result of a one night stand with a married man and my mother killed her self when i was 18 months old. I found out i was adopted at 11, but only because my birth mothers brother was going to be at a wedding and had threatened to tell me.( my adoptive mum was my birth mums cousin- gets confusing lol) To be honest i wasnt that bothered then, i hadmore issues with it when i got into my twenties- but thats another story.

My adoptive parents have been great, especially my dad. I guess thats my concern. My kids have a great relationship with dad ( my mum lives 300 miles away) and i am worried about spoiling it. But as one person said, it might be worse if they find out when they are older.

I think i am going to start laying the groundwork, and try and tell them in a way to make it sound it isnt a big deal? Just hope they dont ask to many questions....

Thanks everyone for givng such different viewpoints smile

Kewcumber Thu 29-Sep-11 23:49:40

"My kids have a great relationship with dad and i am worried about spoiling it" - well did it "spoil" your relationship with your Dad, that you were adopted? Being one step remove from it I would have thought the a grandparent grandchild relationship was actually less likely to be impaired by an adoption in the line.

At that age particularly a four year old, keep it short and to the point. "Most babies grow inside their mummys tummybut some people can only look after themselves. If they grow a baby the baby needs looking after and if they can;t do that then the baby needs to find the right mummy and daddy to stay with forever. I didn't grow in Grandma's tummy but grandma and grandpa were ready to look after a baby and they were very pleased when I turned out to be just the right baby for them." Or words to that effect.

A slightly grown up conversation might be required for an 8 yr old. My 6 yr old wants to know mostly why people can't look after a baby - again just short and to the point - they were very young, they were unwell and couldn't get better, they didn't have family who could help... worth adding "aren't we lucky that we weren't in that position and we have such a lovely family (or somethign positive to discriminate between your DD's position and the position your birth mother was in to nip in the bud any questions about whether it could happen to them.)

Good luck and they will take their cues from you - if you are relaxed talking about it, they won't see anything to be concerned about in what you say.

LunaticIsOnTheGrass Fri 30-Sep-11 00:04:52

My Mum was adopted, she didn't ever tell me about it herself. I found out about it after she died when I was 9.

I found it strange because we'd talked about adoption & she'd told me that her cousin was adopted but didn't mention that she was at all.

I found out a few weeks after she died when I saw her death certificate, I had a load of questions which she wasn't there to answer.

harrietthespook Fri 30-Sep-11 10:48:55

That's an interesting thought anevil. My mother's feelings of being 'left' now are very strong, and unfortunately coinciding with a period where I most feel the need for people around me/feel the chances I have to contact my BM might not be unlimited. my daugthers are growing up and I agree deserve to have the full picture about their family life. All very tricky to manage and I do feel cross at times as it's not like adoptees bring any of these things upon themselves. And yet they're often the ones expected to have the 'broadest shoulders' when it comes to dealing with everyone's feelings.

KristinaM Fri 30-Sep-11 12:17:49

I am adopted and all my children know. The youngest are 5 and 7 and i cant even remember when we told them, it was years ago. I think they have always kmown IYKWIM.

Harriet - you said that your mum must have issues about your being adopted as she has not told her freinds in the US. Maybe its just that she doenst consider it relevant. For example, i dont normally tell anyone that my 7yo was a ventouse delivery. Its not the kind of thing that comes up in conversation. i occasioanly mention it on mumsnet on a relevant thread. I hope im not still discussing child birth when im 60.i dont think this means i have an issue with it

Personally i woudl think it was a bit weird of someone said

Oh i have a daughter of 40 who lives in the uk with her Dh and two kids. She was born by cesarian section /adopted/conceived by IVF etc etc

Just a thought. Obviously i dont know your mum and you may have other easons to think she is troubled by your adoption

harrietthespook Fri 30-Sep-11 12:24:09

No Krisitina it's different. She has admitted she is actively not telling this group of people because she thinks it might somehow reflect badly on her/our relationship. hmm She hasn't articulated this in exactly those words, but that SEEMS from WHAT I CAN GATHER, to be the upshot. It's a conscious decision. Everyone knew about it when I was growing up. SO I have to also be careful what I say around them - they've given me things like babyshowers where it might have come up. And my mom's friends have had children and we've been together when we've discussed breast feeding and births. One woman did say to her: Didn't you breastfeed. "God no!" she just made it seem like she hadn't felt like it. her friends still talk about their birth experiences too and she never chimes in. I have said to her: Do they ask you? "No." But it's always hovering there, I guess. Maybe they guess they shouldn't ask...but then they did about the breast feeding so who knows?

It is exceptionally weird why she is doing this now.

harrietthespook Fri 30-Sep-11 12:25:58

sorry my mom's friend's children... not my mom's friends have had children.

harrietthespook Fri 30-Sep-11 12:30:57

Thinking about it - one of the other women in this circle of friends has a daughter who is a lesbian. And that subject is TABOO. One is not allowed to discuss that in their gatherings. That came out by 'accident' one time when my mom was on her own with this friend.

So..maybe it's down to the particular group dynamics going on here...? My mom's in her late sixties, some of these women are in their very early 80s...

anewmotivatedme Fri 30-Sep-11 12:35:35

My Dad is adopted, but has no interest in looking up his birth family. He is very close to his parents. He was the adored only child, who they scrimped and saved to send to private school and university. He had an idyllic childhood, with wonderful doting parents.

He has looked at his file, and was taken from his family by social services, and was very malnourished, and considered possibly disabled due to his limited reactions, when he went to live with his parents at eight months old.

We were just told in casual conversation as teenagers. Although I know he was adopted, and am naturally curious, I know not to ask any questions. As far as Dad is concerned his adopted parents are his true family, he prefers to block out any other family.

CustardIsMyNemesis Fri 30-Sep-11 13:05:16

My Dads parents accidentally told me that my Mum was adopted when I was 10. They thought I knew and I was devastated, not because I felt lied to, or because I felt any differently to my Mums ‘mum’, but because I didn’t know how to tell her I knew if that makes sense?

That night my Mum came in to my room and found me in floods of tears and I told her what had happened and she had a really nice chat with me and explained that her (adoptive) Mum and Dad were her Mum and Dad. She told me in such a calm and beautiful way how lucky she was that my Gran and Grandad chose to love her (god, 20 years later and I’m still welling up thinking about it!). We have only spoken about it a couple of times briefly since, my Gran never knew that I knew.

What I’m trying to say is that if there is no way that your DC’s will ever find out about you being adopted then you can choose to not tell them, however if there is a chance that they could find out ‘by accident’ then I think it is good to get in there first, so that you can pick the time and place. My DB is 5 years younger than me and my Mum included him in the conversation that she and I had and he didn’t even bat an eyelid (too busy trying to get back to his lego!)

KristinaM Sat 01-Oct-11 09:06:50

The only way you can keep it totally secret is

Have no contcat at all with anyone , friends, family, neighbiurs, school friends. Or anyome who knows them. Bst done by changing your name and moving to amother country

Destroy all official documents relating to teh adoption. Nit just the copies you have, you would need to destroy those held by the registrat general etc, medical records

Lie to doctors and hcp caring for you and your children

Ensuer that your children and their children n ever use facebook, any other social media or the internet in general

bluelaguna Sat 01-Oct-11 09:15:22

Definitely tell them - 4yo is perfect age, 8yo getting a bit old IMHO so would need to do it soon.

Tell them in a tone of voice that is positive and matter of fact. For the 4yo, a very simple explanation will suffice - sometimes a mummy/daddy can't look after her baby and sometimes there is a mummy/daddy who really want a baby but haven't got one. So, they give the baby to them. I see up thread that your birth mother killed herself - a good explanation of suicide is that she was ill, more specifically her head/brain was unwell. Because essentially it is true and it will pave the way for you to tell the entire truth in the future if you decide to do that - as you won't have lied.

giyadas Sat 01-Oct-11 09:50:55

Harriets posts about stakeholders in her adoption really struck a chord with me, as did Bugsys "Although, I always knew I was adopted, it was only discussed under duress as I got older and was always a bit of a dirty secret."
I know my mum doesn't like it brought up,almost like she resents that I was adopted and could possibly put a nasty spin on me telling dd, which is one reason I've avoided it. It just seemed easier not to bring it up. But I would like dd to know, so will have to think about how best to approach it.
Trouble is by telling dd, it may affect her relationship with her gran as it would become a subject that she would have to avoid around her.

harrietthespook Sat 01-Oct-11 10:57:56

giyadas - are you a 70s baby too?

giyadas Sat 01-Oct-11 11:03:02

late 70's, yes. Do you think my mums attitude is typical of the time? It seems so different to the attitude of adopters I've seen on this board.

Maryz Sat 01-Oct-11 12:13:59

It is definitely different giyadas, simply because they never considered the wider ramifications of adoption and were never prompted to consider it. They assumed that they would take their babies home and no-one would ever discuss it again.

Those of us who have adopted recently are very aware that our children will (more than likely) have contact with their birth families. Even if they don't trace themselves, the likelihood is that they will be "found" either intentionally or by accident by some member or other of their wider family. The world is so much smaller nowadays, and with Facebook and photographs online it isn't hard to find someone.

I knew the day I took my children home that it was likely that they would, at some stage, have another set of "parents". It was up to me whether to make a big deal out of it and force them to choose. I hope my children would include me in any search, and I hope I am secure enough to be able to "allow" them to meet their families (as in allow them emotionally, of course I will allow them physically smile), and to have a relationship with them without feeling that it will take anything from their relationship with me.

Parents back in the 70's didn't have time to come to terms with all this. Many of them think that if their children trace they are doing it because they were inadequate parents, or because their children are unhappy, and so they get defensive. And of course the more defensive they get, the more pressured the (now adult) children feel, the more difficult the whole topic becomes.

Interestingly even earlier adoptions seem to be less confusing all around - simply because people adopted back in the 40s and 50s couldn't trace, so although that was tough for them, it wasn't an issue for their adoptive parents.

Adoptive parents from the late 60s/70s/early 80s are stuck in the middle, because the changes happened during their parenthood, if that all makes sense.

harrietthespook Sat 01-Oct-11 14:02:14

Maryz is spot on.

The other thing is that the birth mothers didn't expect to hear from their birth children either, the ones who adopted in the 70s. I happen to know from the agency that my birth mother travelled to another city to have me, to avoid people knowing about it in her home town. The agency said this wasn't unusual and I'm sure they are right. I do wonder whether my BM worries that it will all one day 'catch up with her' and come out.

bangcrash Sat 01-Oct-11 16:49:44

The attitudes sound quite familiar to me too. My parents were very open in lots of ways and told me sometimes that if I searched they would help but I was absolutely aware that this would be devastating for them.

I was a seventies adoption and would agree it was a difficult era for parents who were told to go home and forget by sws and family sometimes.

I think they were burdened not only by the fear that people had voiced to them over the years that I would look for 'real' family. also they suffered from never having let go of the fear that I could be snatched away. The final court visit was as much as they could bear after some horrid sws and a birth mother who changed her mind a few times.

I think the prep was so bad and the system so awful that my parents carried emotional scars from their experience.

auntevil Sat 01-Oct-11 17:06:04

Harrietthespook - I was a sixties adoption and my BM has told me that she had given up the thought that I would contact her. So when she remarried 15 years ago, she didn't tell her new husband. She also hadn't told her subsequent children.
She gave me her husbands e-mail address to contact her - so I had assumed he must have been aware. Can't imagine his surprise when he said to my BM 'who is .." From what I have heard, 1 of her children isn't phased at all, 1 is quite shocked, but interested to hear from me and has given me his contact details. I don't know about the other 2, but time will tell.
So perhaps age is a major factor - whether a positive or negative. My BM didn't think it necessary to discuss it as she didn't think it would matter anymore.
FYI, only my 8 year old has asked subsequent questions on adoption - and it was the why couldn't she keep you but she could keep the others. I explained it as a matter of fact - young, no money, no support. Putting me up for adoption was her way of trying to give me the best start in life. He asked if i was sad about it - i said no - which is true. Then he asked if that meant he had even more family - which i said yes, as i could see where this was going as he has a birthday next month!

giyadas Sun 02-Oct-11 11:36:53

yes, that makes perfect sense Maryz. WRT your earlier post, while I've never said anything, I've never lied either so there won't be any issues re that. This thread has brought up a lot of things I'd pushed to the back of mind, will need time to think it all over before I say anything.
Sorry to just disappear, RL intruded.

harrietthespook Mon 03-Oct-11 12:50:43


"The attitudes sound quite familiar to me too. My parents were very open in lots of ways and told me sometimes that if I searched they would help but I was absolutely aware that this would be devastating for them."

Ditto. My mother's 'offer to help' me search pretty much ended when I was in middle school. AFter that: "Everyone knows your adopted. Why do you feel the need to tell people?" This of friends too.

Also it was easier to be relaxed about this in the 70s when it would have been harder to find people. It can be scary for all concerned that it's so much easier to find people, in the social networking era.

Samd123 Sun 06-Nov-11 09:47:16

Hi I hope I am not too late to add onto this conversation but I just wanted to add my experiences. My dad is adopted and I seem to have known at least since I was 10. My dad was not told he was adopted til he was 21 which was relatively common back then. However because of the way this was handled we have not really talked about it and there are some issues about it. My DH thinks I am overly empathetic as I am can be emotional about this. I think only recently (I am over 40) that it really sank home to me that my dad never knew about his biological mum and I had another grandma who I never knew and who died without knowing what had happened to her son and about us and didn't know how everything turned out well for us.
As people have said above my grandparents were my grandparents and I have no real need to know about my biological grandparents but there is some sadness there for the reasons I mentioned above.

ILikeToMoveItMoveIt Sun 06-Nov-11 10:03:50

Thought I would just add my experience, as only you can decide how/if/when you tell your children.

I found out my mum was adopted when my cousin mentioned it in conversation when I was about 8. I had no clue so I just thought she was making it up. A year or so later I was watching a tv programme (Gentle Ben if you're interested!) that had an adoption storyline, so my mum used the opportunity to tell me she was adopted.

I was annoyed that she hadn't told me and I felt foolish because of what I had said to my cousin. But it has never changed how I felt about my mum or my darling Grandad.

As an adult and a parent, I still don't understand why she waited so long to tell me - especially as she was only told when she was about 12, and found it very difficult to deal with at such an advanced age. But she has never been one for talking - probably learnt from her parents, hence only being told when she was 12.

dizzyblonde Wed 16-Nov-11 18:54:37

My Dh is adopted, in the early sixties, and has always known. It was never made a big thing of but just something he always knew.
I have always been open with my 3 DC's. It comes up in conversation when they ask ' who do I take after'. I found that they forgot and then found out again, my 15 year old DS recently asked if he had any other nationalities in his genetic line-up. My DH's birth mother was half french so we told him that. Turns out he had forgotten the adoption story but was totally unphased by it.
I think being open and honest is the key.

Andy6 Tue 17-Apr-12 20:30:28

I would say yes. Not only will they know the truth but they will help normalise the process if you have been through it to. They they will be able to empathise / understand as they have also been through it so to me is a bonding advantage as they get older. I grew up without parents and I have told my adopted children this and one day after they turn 18 I have told them they will be able to find their birth parents if they want just like I found my dad (and explained what happened etc).

mary04 Wed 19-Dec-12 01:49:23

complicated situation, my past came back and opened up a can of worms. I was adopted as an infant. i was never very comfortable talking about it and did not tell many people.I accepted it at a very young age. My husband at the time knew i was adopted(now ex). we have two children ages 20 and 22. My kids and my ex husband have never had a good relationship, he is in my opinion a narcissistic man. 15 years after our very messy divorce he decided to tell our children out of the blue without my knowledge that i was adopted, of course they were shocked. I explained to my kids that I did not hide this information from them to hurt them, I accepted my adoption a long time ago and feel that my adopted parents who raised me were to me my only parents. I have now contacted the adoption agency to get any and all information for my kids so I can answer their questions regarding their background. I will do it for them even if i don't have any interest in knowing.
The next part of this problem is. My ex had testicular cancer when we met. He caught the cancer early and is fine to date. He froze his sperm and when we decided to start a family we had to use donor sperm in addition to his sperm. My ex never wanted the kids to know any of this, his cancer or the donor sperm. I informed the pediatricians when the kids were babies so it would be in their medical history.My ex is now telling me that I should not tell the kids how they were conceived, mind you my ex is in the medical field. Now I feel horrible that I kept my adoption from my kids and feel that its time to be completely honest with them about everything. I have tried to talk to my ex about this for weeks now and he will not listen. He feels its going to hurt the kids since they have a bad relationship with him already, I'm so torn up about all of this and I hold myself accountable for not telling my kids of my adoption. any advice is welcome. I want to do the right thing. This is not about revenge, I now see how I have made a large mistake and want to be honest with my kids.

KristinaM Wed 19-Dec-12 08:23:06

Your instinct is right -of course you must tell the children that they were conceived by AID. I'm sorry you are in this situation now and that you were not given good advice about being honest with them when they were small. Most children who grow up knowing the facts as ok with them -its a lot more upsettig to discover at a later date that you have been lied to .

You need to prepare youreslf for the possibility that they will be quite upset. It's quite a blow to discover that your father is not your biological father AND your mothers family are nt your biological family either.

There is no easy way to do this I'm afraid, they need to know now. Please try not to blame each other. You have both lied to them for years . Theres no question of one of you not " letting" the other be honest . You just need to tell them that you thought it was for the best, that attitudes were less open 20 years ago and that you didn't mean to hurt them and you are sorry .

mary04 Wed 19-Dec-12 12:42:27

Thank you for the sound advice kristina. My ex and I do not know if he is the biological father since the we used his sperm in addition to the donor sperm. I would guess that if the children wanted to find out, a dna would need to be done and I'm not sure if their father would agree to do it and I worry that this will bring on more resentment with him. Their relationship with their father has been horrific for so many years. Almost non existent. I'm very concerned for them. My youngest son is going through a very difficult time right now and I'm not sure how he will cope with all of this. I have to find the right time to tell both of the boys. I just wish that my ex was on the same page with me, the last thing I want to do is cause any pain to my children.

KristinaM Wed 19-Dec-12 15:44:51

I'm sorry you and your children are in this situation .of course you don't want to upset them but its better coming from you than them hearing it elsewhere . A bit like the adoption thing.

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