Is it Too Late to Tell?

Telling your child he is adopted through embryo adoption or donation can be daunting to parents. Will their child feel shock, unloved, maybe rejection? Embryo adoption is still fairly unknown, so obviously, he will have questions. How will you answer them? Even more concerning, how will he view you after you tell him?

These are the questions and concerns many parents of embryo adopted children have to face head-on. And these questions and concerns are the reason some parents may decide to not tell their children they are adopted at an early age.

Some parents avoid bringing the story up with their kids because it makes them uncomfortable. As the years go by, they find themselves faced with the task of telling an older child something they should not have been keeping secret. This can be detrimental to the child’s sense of security and will more likely result in feelings of rejection or betrayal than if you tell her early on. This is why it is imperative you tell her how she was brought into your family when she is young. However, if parents do wait until their child is older to tell, while not ideal, there are ways to make the information less of a blow.

You and your spouse should sit your child down and be open and honest with him. Apologize for not doing so sooner. Make your explanation simple, direct, and candid. Talk about how much you and your spouse wanted him, and briefly explain the process you went through to add him to your family (using age appropriate language).

You must also allow your child to ask questions. And there will be plenty! For example, she may want to know who her placing family is or where they are. You can share as much information with her as you are able. Again, your comments and answers to her questions should be with age appropriate language. She may have more questions about it in the days, weeks, and years ahead. The more your child talks about it with you, the more comfortable she will feel with the idea, and the stronger her relationship will become with you.

Your child will be emotional. He probably will be upset—that is a natural reaction. Allow him to express his feelings. Talk about why he is sad or angry, and let him know you acknowledge and sympathize with him. Or allow him time to process before speaking (teens will most likely wish to do this first.) Remind him that you love him, that you are his family, and always will be.

Acknowledge your emotions. Usually, parents who are reluctant to tell their child she was adopted as an embryo have difficulties of their own in accepting that she is not their biological child. But there are many reasons why parents may have waited this long to tell. Keep in mind that it’s important for her to know about her adoption story as soon as possible. Your straightforward communication about how she joined the family can strengthen the relationship you have with her, and build a strong bond of trust and communication.

To learn more about telling you older child about their adoption story, you can watch our webinar How Do We Tell the Kids. To learn more about embryo donation and adoption, visit EmbryoAdoption.org.