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Why Do Some Parents Not Tell Their Child They Were Adopted?


The fact of the matter is that, legally, the adoption system is set up such that a child who is adopted is permanently attached to his or her adoptive parents. Even his or her birth certificate is re-issued. The original birth records are sealed, unable to be opened. It is feasible that a child who was adopted could grow up never knowing that they were adopted, because their parents did not tell their child they were adopted.

The fact of the matter is, however, that this sort of practice has become less and less common, less and less possible, and, quite frankly, less and less recommended. Most research suggests that a child who is adopted will benefit from knowing early on that they were adopted. As they get older and are able to understand more and more, the parents can explain more and more to the child about how the child was adopted.

Some parents might not tell their child they were adopted because they are afraid of how the child will react. They are worried that the child will resent the adoptive family, or that the child will rebel against the adoptive family.

In other situations, some parents don’t tell their child they were adopted to spare the child’s feelings. They are worried that the child will feel abandoned and unwanted if the child finds out that they were adopted. Or, if the child’s birth parents abused or neglected the child, the adoptive family may wish to spare the child the painful information. While this concern for the child’s feelings is definitely noble, most experts would suggest that it is misguided. The potential damage of not telling their child they were adopted far outweighs the potential damage of telling the child they were adopted.

Ultimately, however, it is up to the adoptive parents whether or not they want to tell their child they were adopted. It is their right to decide if, how, and when their child will know that they were adopted.



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