Talking with Your Child about Embryo Adoption

Adoptive parents are often anxious about how to talk to their adopted child about his or her adoption story. Even if parents have been very intentional to always speak of adoption in a positive light, there’s always a nagging worry in the back of their minds: Are we talking about adoption too often or too little? Are we sharing enough details? Or not enough? How do we know if we’re saying the right things? When a child is adopted as an embryo or conceived through donor conception, the task seems to be even more difficult.

The following are six tips for making these conversations a little less anxiety-inducing:

  1. Talk about the adoption/donor conception with the child early and often. Even before they are verbal, you can practice telling children their story. That way, when they are old enough to grasp the concept and have questions, you are well-prepared for the conversation.
  2. Always relay the message that you are open to discussing any questions your child may have. Many adoptees and donor-conceived children have expressed that they don’t ask questions about their origins because they are afraid of upsetting their parents.
  3. Don’t ignore or speak negatively of the donor parents.
  4. Acknowledge (and don’t minimize) the loss issues your child might be experiencing that are associated with donor conception and/or adoption.
  5. Don’t be afraid to seek resources or support, whether through counseling, books, other adoptive parents, support groups, or other means.
  6. Create a Lifebook and utilize children’s books to help explain the process to your child.

For more information on embryo donation and adoption, visit EmbryoAdoption.org.