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“What does adoption mean to a child?”

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Will My Child Understand My Adoption Decision?

And What Will He or She Think About Me?

When a woman chooses adoption for her child, many fears may cross her mind, like, “Will my child resent me for ‘giving them up’? Will they understand why I did this?” These concerns are normal. After all, you’re choosing adoption to give your child a happy and stable life, with opportunities that you may not be able to provide right now, so you want to make sure that they won’t feel uncomfortable with their adoption or with you.

The facts about modern adoptions and how adoptees feel about their birth parents may surprise you. Three of the most common questions that pregnant women have about their children include:

Will My Child Understand My Adoption Decision?

In the past, it was common for adopted children to not be told that they were adopted, and adoptive parents and birth parents usually did not meet or get to know each other. As a result, many adopted children would grow up with negative feelings about their adoption or be shocked when they finally learned the truth later in life.

Today’s adoptions are much more “open.” Adoption agencies like American Adoptions educate adoptive families on the importance of telling their children about their adoption from a young age to avoid the aforementioned problems. Ninety-seven percent of children who were adopted know their adoption stories, and about their birth families. There is no shocking discovery or big reveal of a secret, because they always knew that they were adopted, and who their birth parents are. In adoptive families, adoption and birth families are a normal part of life.

Furthermore, women who choose adoption are able to carefully select the adoptive parents for their baby, get to know the adoptive family and maintain a relationship with them after the adoption, ensuring the adopted child understands his or her birth mother’s adoption decision. Through an open adoption, you never have to wonder what a child thinks about their adoption, because you can talk to him or her about it firsthand, and explain how much you love them in your own words.

What Will My Child Think of Me?

The term “give up for adoption” has seeped into our cultural vocabulary, as though birth mothers turn away from their children. But the truth is that a woman who chooses adoption for her baby isn’t “giving up” or “giving away” her baby; she is making one of the most selfless, courageous decisions imaginable.

Because today’s adoptions allow prospective birth mothers to steer the adoption plan, an adopted child knows — now more than ever — of the care his or her birth mother put into selecting an adoptive family and planning the adoption.

Country singer Faith Hill was adopted as a baby and thinks well of her birth mother: “I have a lot of respect for my birth mother,” she says. “I know she must have had a lot of love for me to want to give what she felt was a better chance.”

Famous guitarist and singer David Crosby of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young placed a son for adoption when he was in his twenties. He reunited with his son James later in life. “He was worried about me being this angry young man — ‘You abandoned me' — that sort of thing,” James says. “That wasn't even an issue.”

It’s selfless love for a baby that causes many women to choose adoption. Grateful adoptive parents will be able to share that loving decision with your child. Many adoptive children feel extra special, knowing that so many people love them. And as most children get older and grow in their understanding of adoption, they’ll come to terms with their identity and realize what your sacrifice meant to their life.

How Do Adopted Children Feel About Being Adopted?

Adoption can impact a child's life in many ways. In the past, secrecy often cast a large shadow over adoption, making it a negative aspect of a person's life, rather than a positive one. This is why in modern adoptions, adoption professionals like American Adoptions counsel adoptive parents about the importance of being open and honest with children about their adoption stories from the beginning. When a child grows up always knowing that he or she was adopted and always loved by both their birth and adoptive families, there is never a moment when they will question whether or not they were “wanted” or wonder why they were “given up.”

So many families choose to celebrate adoption as a positive, beautiful event that makes each adopted child special. These adoptive parents openly share their child's adoption story. Many families even celebrate their child's adoption each year as a family tradition.

Some adoptees are even so touched by their adoption story that they grow up to be adoption professionals, like Jennifer, Director of Social Services with American Adoptions.

"Within days of my birth I was given the most awesome gift: my family,” Jennifer says. “I know it sounds odd, but my birth mother decided that placing me for adoption was the best choice for both of us. I still can’t imagine all she went through to come to that selfless decision.”

Adoption shouldn’t be a dark family secret, and today, adopted children celebrate their adoption stories. They grow up knowing how special adoption is and what a beautiful gift they were given by their birth parents. While those who grow up in a more closed adoption may have questions about their birth parents and where they came from, they grow up knowing that adoption is a very loving decision, and it is one to be proud of.

Read the following to learn more about how adoptive parents talk to children about adoption.


It’s important to remember that a prospective birth mother at American Adoptions can choose the type of adoption she would like, allowing her to see firsthand how her baby is growing up though pictures, letters, visits and phone calls. Continued contact with your child can help you reinforce that he or she understands adoption and knows about you and your courageous adoption decision.

To begin making an adoption plan, or for further questions about adopted children, please call 1-800-ADOPTION or complete the following form for free adoption information.

Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. America Adoptions, Inc. provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is American Adoptions the right adoption agency choice for many birth mothers?

American Adoptions is one of the largest licensed adoption agencies in the United States. Each year, we work with thousands of women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy and offer assistance to these women. Our large, caring staff is able to assist you seven days a week and provide you with one-on-one counseling about your pregnancy and available options.

You should choose an adoption agency where you feel completely comfortable with their services and staff. With American Adoptions, you will work with an Adoption Specialist who is on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Adoption Specialist will be your advocate and will provide support and guidance as you create an adoption plan that is right for you.

How will the family tell my child about me and the adoption when my child is older?

Each family has their own style of introducing adoption to the child. When you are matched with an adoptive family, you can ask them this question. If you would like your Adoption Specialist to discuss it for you, just let her know. He or she can share your wishes or provide good ideas from other adoptive families.

You will also be able to share what you want your baby to know about you. You can complete a keepsake booklet to share hobbies, stories, photos of you and your family and a letter to your baby. The adoptive family can provide this to your child as he or she grows older. Be as creative as you like! Some birth mothers have even knitted a special blanket as a gift to their baby or given a similar symbol of their love.

The father of your baby can fill out the birth father's keepsake booklet or write a letter too. You may have other family members who would also like to share photos or a letter to the baby. This is your opportunity to pass on your and your family's love and to share your personality, history and reasons for choosing adoption. The adoptive family will treasure whatever information you provide and will share it with the baby at an appropriate age. In most adoptive homes, the word adoption is in the child's vocabulary early on, and adoption is celebrated in their lives.

Additional Resources

Teen Pregnancy - Information for Young Women

While not every woman who chooses adoption is a young mother, many are. Through adoption, many young women have found an ability to give their babies the best life possible, while finding the opportunity to realize their own dreams, as well. Call American Adoptions today at 1-800-ADOPTION.

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Adoption Glossary

Do adoption terms and phrases leave you feeling confused? Learn the meaning to key adoption words and phrases with our comprehensive adoption glossary.

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