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Sunday, 25 March 2001

Should We Tell Our Son He Is Adopted?

Written by  Sylvia B. Rimm, PhD

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QI have been married to my second husband for seven years. The oldest of our four children is from my first marriage. My ex-husband left when I was four months pregnant with my son, so he has never seen him or had any contact with him. My husband and I started dating when my son was four months old, and he adopted my son six months after we were married. The boy is now 11, and we are not quite sure how to explain to him that his dad is not his biological father.

How should we go about this? Although my husband and son have a wonderful relationship, my husband is quite concerned that our son will no longer think of him in the same way once we tell him, or even worse, he will want to see his biological father.

-- Truthful Parents --

AThe biggest fear about not sharing adoption information with children is that they will feel betrayed or lied to by the adoptive parent. Eventually, your son is likely to find out that his father is not his genetic father. This is a much better time to tell him than when he is 15. The fact that your husband and son have such a good relationship also makes this an ideal time for sharing the information.

It would be good for both of you to tell him, to assure him that his genetic father never even saw him so he was never rejected or unloved. Explain that his adoptive father is as bonded to him as if he had participated in his birth.

As difficult as it may seem to you, your son will probably accept it. He may wonder why you didn't tell him before, and you can explain that you didn't think he was old enough to understand earlier. If he does ask to meet his real father, and he may not at this age, explain that can happen when he becomes an adult, and that it will be his decision.

There is little likelihood that the new information will hurt the relationship, but if your husband needs some reassurance of that, remind him the fact that he actually chose to adopt your son after he already knew him is huge proof of his love and commitment to the child.

Dr. Sylvia

Last modified on Tuesday, 14 May 2013 13:43
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Sylvia B. Rimm, PhD

Sylvia B. Rimm, PhD

Dr. Sylvia Rimm is a psychologist and best-selling author with a national following. She is the director of the Family Achievement Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, and is a clinical professor at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine.

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