Talking to Kids About Open Adoption

Basic Elements of Good Communication:

  • Listen with respect – Hear what is beyond the words • Position yourself at eye level and make eye contact
  • Pay attention to body language
  • Repeat actions and messages of empowerment
  • Allow for disagreement without triggering oppositional behavior
  • Find areas of agreement
  • Don’t expect full buy-in
  • Keep at it – talking about adoption is not a “one-shot” deal

Communicating with a Young Child About Adoption:

  • Be comfortable yourself – the emotions will be more important than the words
  • Use a lifebook
  • Answer what is asked – don’t tell the whole story in one sitting!

Communicating with School Age Children about Adoption:

  • Model a range of expressions for emotions
  • Feeling SAD → makes me feel MAD → which leads to acting BAD
  • Use stories, movies, puppet play to “practice” and observe lots of emotions
  • Provide physical as well as verbal outlets for emotions

Communicating with Teens About Open Adoption

  • Talk often about family connections.
  • Present thoughts and ideas for them to consider in their media -i.e. music, movies.
  • Partialize the process to the point of acceptance.
  • Don’t back away from the hard questions – i.e. sex
  • Expect relationships to change over time

Source: Coalition 2004 Conference Worhshop Presentation by Sue Badeau,

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