Do we talk enough about adoption?

In our society, adoption is still treated as something hush- hush. Even though adoption has been happening from ancient times and has even been written about in the Indian epics, how comfortable are we talking about adoption, whether it's to our adopted child or to others? What do we fear? Is it the “stigma” of being treated differently as an adopted child or a fear that the child would find the fact of adoption hard or painful to accept? For that matter, how much do families with biological children expose their kids to the concept of adoption?

It is tragic that in trying to protect our adopted child, we often unknowingly end up harming her. All research and experts in this field categorically advice that the adopted child must be told about her adoption by her adoptive parents from a very young age, so that they grow up feeling that adoption is not something to be hidden or to be ashamed about. This telling can be introduced in the most natural way through stories about how the child came to be their baby. Discovering that they are adopted when they are older can shatter the trust the children have in their parents as they often feel that their entire life has been lived as a lie. 


Experts also advise parents that this telling should not be a one-time “revelation”, but a topic that should be introduced gradually and then always kept on the table, alive for the child to feel free to return to at any time and ask whatever they want to about it - even if many of those questions may be really hard to answer. Why was I not born from your tummy? Why did my birth mother give me away? Did she not love me? Will you give me away also?  These are thoughts that are very likely to come up in adopted children, and they must be addressed appropriately. 

An adult adoptee shared with me how her adoptive parents always included the past in her life. They said things like, “Your birth mother would have been so proud of you. I am sure she thinks about you a lot. It would have been so hard for her to give you up. I am sure you too wonder about her.” She also said her parents took her back every year to the institution from where she was adopted to meet the caregivers who took care of her in her early months. The comfort her parents showed in discussing her adoption made her feel comfortable about herself and the fact of her adoption. On the contrary, when we shut out the past, we are shutting out a very important and real aspect of our child's’ life; we also make them feel that there is something bad about it. We do not create a space for them to be able to share their deepest feelings. 


It's time we “normalise” adoption. Can we honor the choices made by adoptive families and give them the space to share their experiences with openness? Families come into being in so many different ways, each beautiful in its uniqueness. All parents can talk to their children about adoption, so that we spread a greater understanding and acceptance of this way of being, not just in an adoptive family but in society at large.   


Parenting Matters creates a space for adoptive parents to meet and discuss their experiences. Please email them on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to be a part of the adoptive support group meetings. 

Author: Kesang Menezes is a certified parent educator with Parenting Matters, an organization which empowers parents to build deeper connection in families.