1. You can’t replace my biological mother and she can’t replace you

A recurring fear that even the most secure adoptive parents feel is that the child’s biological mother will replace them. This fear often lays the groundwork for not supporting the child when he or she wants to seek out their past.

After years or even a lifetime of having you as my mom, why do you think I’ll forget the moment I meet my birth mother? As much as no one else can replace those experiences I’ve had with you, you can never be a substitute for what I need from the woman who gave birth to me. Please remember that my love isn’t finite and allow me to have more of it in my life.

2. The pain you are trying to protect me from may be what I need to heal

As a mother myself, I understand the urge to keep your child out of harm’s way. It pains me to see my son in distress, physically or emotionally. I realize my adoptive parents decided to withhold information about my adoption to protect me, but what they didn’t know is that shielding me from it only made things worse once I did experience it. As they say, the truth hurts, but for me to heal, I need to experience that pain.

3. I want to hear the truth from you

As a 4-year-old adoptee, who found out about my adoption when a 6-year-old spilled the beans, I knew this wasn’t the best way to learn about my past. Shock, loss, disbelief, confusion and an entire array of other emotions pelted me during that moment. But what I kept thinking was, “If this is true, why didn’t Mom tell me?” We’ve all been in the situation where a friend, family member or co-worker has something sensitive to talk to you about, but you find out through someone else. Imagine that hurt, times a million.

4. Ignoring the topic won’t make it go away

I know you believe that if you don’t talk about my adoption and I don’t talk about my adoption, I won’t think about it. Well, you’re wrong. Since you’ve made it clear that discussing my adoption makes you uncomfortable, I choose not to talk about it with you and instead create a shield to block you from all those feelings.

5. There is no such thing as too young to tell me about my adoption

One of the most popular questions adoptive parents ask me is, “Do you think my child is too young for me to tell him/her about his or her adoption?” My answer, independent of whether they are talking about their toddler or their school-age child, remains, “No.”

Before our children know how to speak, we read to them, we talk to them, we expose them to language in anticipation of the day that they will be able to use it. Telling your child about their adoption should be no different. Speaking to them about their adoption, even as an infant or toddler, will normalize the topic and help them understand it better as they grow up. It’s part of what makes them who they are. Incorporate it into their life and yours or else you may be reinforcing a stigma you’re trying to avoid.