In recent years, child psychologists and adoption agencies alike have been emphasizing the importance of telling your adopted child their story from the beginning. Although this can seem like a daunting task, it is in the best interest of your child to know where they came from, so that they can be confident in their story and identity.
Since embryo adoption is quite an abstract concept to explain to a child, it can be helpful to get some practice in first! The unique nature of embryo adoption allows you to start explaining your child’s story to them while they are still in the womb. By the time your child arrives, you will have explained their story at least a few times, and will hopefully feel more confident in the process!
This is a basic timeline you could follow when explaining your child’s adoption story:
1-3 Years: A time to focus on all different kinds of families, and how some families have trouble creating a baby. Emphasize how love makes a family!
- “We are so happy you are here!”
- “We have waited so long for you to come”
- “Sometimes people need help having a baby”
- “We loved you so much that we chose you to be in our family!”
3-5 Years: You can use children’s books and resources in this stage to create a visual.
- Use children’s books specifically centered around adoption and embryo adoption to explain the basics
- Use simple language that they can understand, repeat concepts many times and reinforce the truth that they belong in your family
- Create your own family book if you would like, and personalize it to your experiences
5-7 Years: This is the phase of questions!
- Answer questions clearly, simply, and honestly
- Be confident in your responses. Explain that you got help from a special doctor and another family to bring them into your family.
- Encourage your child to ask questions, ask them how they are feeling, and use these opportunities to show your child how special they are
8-9 Years: A deeper understanding of their origin develops, so more details can be given
- Explaining the difference between Nature and Nurture, solidifying the concept that their membership in your family and the uniqueness of their story is what makes them special
10-11 Years and Beyond: At this age you can start using statistics, explaining that they are not the only ones with a story like theirs
- Finding a community or group where children conceived through embryo donation and adoption can be helpful
- Try to be open with sharing details about their genetic family if your child asks
- They might start to become aware of their differences rather than their similarities with other children. Encourage them to take pride in their story and their family!
One of the most important things to remember when telling your child their adoption story is that it is a process. Sitting them down and telling them all at once can lead to confusion and hurt. It can be tempting to just lay everything out for them and get it over with, but it is vital that your child learns of their origins slowly, thoughtfully, and in steps that make sense for their age.
Following is a list of books on Embryo Adoption for Children: Recommended by Embryo Connections
- You Were Made for Me by Sheri Sturniolo
- We Are Family by Patricia Hegarty
- The Pea That Was Me Volume 3: And Embryo Donation Story by Kimberly Kluger-Bell
- Mommy, Did I Grow in Your Tummy? By Elaine Gordon
- One More Giraffe by Kim Noble
Many of these books can actually be found at your local library! You can also utilize inter-library loans to access books from any library in the world. These resources can be a great help in the process of telling your child their unique and beautiful adoption story.
To learn more about embryo donation and adoption, visit EmbryoAdoption.org.