Adoption: Discussing Adoption With My 5 Year Old

My little girl has always been surrounded by a diverse group of children, so it’s only natural that as she matures and becomes more inquisitive, she’s going to ask questions.

The other day as we were driving home from daycare she asked me about adoption. “Mommy, what does it mean to be adopted?” she asked. I explained to her that sometimes people have babies, but aren’t able to take care of those babies when they’re born. I told her that there are many people in the world with lots of love in their hearts who want to have a baby, so they adopt those babies in need. They choose to become their mommies and daddies, and give them the love and support that they need – and they become a family.

“You mean like how you and daddy adopted Keyla?” she asked. Keyla is our dog. “Hmm kind of..” I said hesitantly. “Keyla did have a doggy mommy and daddy, and we did choose to bring her to our home and take care of her and love her as part our family.”

She thought about this for a moment, and I could see the wheels turning as she took it all in.

“My friend at daycare was adopted, and she has very dark skin and curly hair. And my other friend that I also know was adopted and she has brown skin and curly hair too. Does that mean that people who are dark with curls were always adopted mommy?”

I explained to her that people come in all different shapes, sizes, and colours, and that anyone, no matter what they look like, can be adopted. She seemed satisfied with this answer and moved onto a new train of thought…

“Mommy, why is it that people with longer legs are faster runners, but cheetahs can run faster than giraffes, and giraffes have longer legs?”

While I was glad that she had moved on to a lighter topic of conversation, it brought me to realize that we would one day have this conversation again. That I would have to tell her that I was adopted and that I didn’t come out of Nana’s belly. In my opinion it’s not important whether or not my parents gave birth to me, but it’s part of who I am and I feel like it’s important to be honest with my children about where I came from and how my family came to be.

I will tell her one day, but not today. Today we will talk about the necks of giraffes and the speed of a cheetah.
Have you talked to your children about adoption? How did it go?


  1. Anonymous says:

    When I was looking after a little boy that was adopted and was Korean and his parents caucasian we had a long conversation about this after it was asked “Why does Jordan look different then his parents” of which I included discussing that you were adopted – I told the kids that some people are born from a Mommies tummy and some are born from their heart. People like Jordan and auntie B were so lucky to have a Mommy that was waiting to adopt a baby and make him/himr part of their family. We talked about different countries having different languages, clothing, food and culture, and how people look differently from other places, but that a family can look very different from 1 to the next and that what is really important that everyone loves each other.

  2. I’m interested to hear your thoughts on the matter. My two youngest children are adopted. One girl and one boy. I know the “looking like” each other is a big issue with them. It has come out in little ways through the years.

  3. Well you know my struggles but one thing I’ve noticed that’s both a positive and a negative is that Theo has a lot of little adopted buddies, all “dark skin curly hair.” It’s great that he has a ready-made community but I’m now activity seeking out kids of other ethnicities to hang out with. We have lots to talk about and we’re only at the very beginning. I’ve introduced the word: adopted and pointed to his other buddies who are also adopted but I have yet to introduce the concept of birthparents (even though he sees them regularly). He’s not yet 3 but I need to get that out there soon. Nice to hear your thoughts on adoption and your children’s as well. Great meeting you IRL!

  4. Beautiful post! Thank you for sharing.

  5. You handled that conversation well mom. My son stumps me a lot – though I try not to miss a beat. So far I have been successful in “just enough” of a response for things that will be revisited in the not so distant future.

  6. WOWZERS!!…I have three boys, My B-Boys, I call them: Jaden almost 10, Kai 4, and Landan 17 months and I must say, I can’t recall having a discussion AT ALL regarding adoption…what stood out most for me in this post was your daughter asking if “all people who are dark with curls adopted?”…it leads to me ask are there any black families in your area/neighborhood or school that AREN’T adopted??…or has she only interacted with the two that just so happen to be adopted? (just curious)…because it appears that she hasn’t even seen a complete black family before for her to ask that. It’s so amazing to me how much our little ones are actually aware of even when we think its too far over the heads…they are such observers and learners…you did well explaining this to her…Go ‘head, Bee!! -From Serenity Now Weekend Reading Party

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