• Same Sex Parents

How to Approach and Respond to Your Children's Questions: A Guide for Same-Sex Parents


Kids and questions, the two go hand in hand.


"Why is the sky blue?"

"What happens when we die?"

"How big is the moon?"


Life is fascinating - especially for children. They are such inquisitive little beings who want to know all of the ins and outs! We never know what questions they are going to ask next, and there are some questions that we just cannot be prepared for. However, there are questions that we can be prepared for and it's actually important that we do prepare for them.

It can be daunting for any parent when it comes to those questions about how babies are made, but for same-sex parents it can sometimes seem a little more tricky. Talking openly and honestly with our children from an early age is key. It is important to ensure that our children learn the answers to their questions from their parents, and not from others who may have a negative or less informed view on the topic. Children's books are a great go-to for those conversation starters - we have a list of our top 10 books for children of same-sex parents here.

Preparing for questions will allow for you to get comfortable with them and to answer them with confidence, and also assure your child that it is okay to ask them.

We have put together some of the most asked questions from children of same-sex parents and have separated them into three categories, 'Two Moms - Donor Conceived Children', 'Two Dads - Surrogacy', and 'Adopted Children'. Some of the suggested approaches and responses may seem obvious to some, but for others these questions can feel very daunting and leave parents unsure how to approach them. This guide has been created to reassure parents that these questions are completely normal and to assist them with their responses.




Two Moms - Donor Conceived Children



Why do I have two moms? / Why don't I have a daddy?


This question may seem daunting at first, but it is simply just children being curious and comparing themselves to the world they see around them, processing why they are different. You can focus on explaining to your child that families come in all shapes and sizes, and reassure them that there is no right or wrong way to be a family. Give examples of different family dynamics and point out that all families are unique and created out of love just like theirs.

You could also go on to talk about and list the father-like, male role models that your child does have in their life, reassuring them that they aren't missing out on anything, and express that having two moms is perfectly normal and okay.


Example:

"Every family is different! Some families have a mom and a dad, some have one mom or one dad, some have two moms (like yours!) or two dads, some children are raised by their grandparents, aunts, uncles or other family members, some children have step-parents, some families only have one child and some families have ten! You see? All families are different and none of them are right or wrong. They are all unique! You have two moms because *Mama* and I love each other very much and we wanted to have a family. You are our dream come true!"


You could go on to say...

"You don't have a daddy but you do have important men in your life who love you very much [list or ask them to list], *Grandpa Tom*, *Grandpa Will*, *Uncle James* and *Uncle Joe*! Not having a daddy doesn't mean you're missing out on anything, just like the children who don't have two mommies aren't missing out on anything. Some children don't have two mommies, but lots of children do! We're all very lucky to have the families that we have, no matter what they look like! What matters is that we love each other."



Do I have a dad? / Where's my dad?


When children ask these questions, it's important to remember that they are not asking because they are unhappy with having two moms and want a dad, but are simply curious as to whether they have one. Terminology is important when answering this question. Make sure your child knows that they have a 'donor', not a 'dad', and explain this difference to them.

You can choose how much detail to go into about reproduction depending on their age.


Example:

"You don't have a dad, *Mama* and I are your parents, and we raise you, care for you and love you. But you do have a donor! A donor is someone who donates something to someone in need. People can donate their blood, organs, hair, food and clothes! Your donor donated something called sperm to *Mama* and I because we didn't have any, and sperm is needed to make a baby. You need sperm, eggs (which me and *Mama* have), and a tummy for the baby to grow.

[You can choose how much detail to go into here regarding sexes and biology.]

Like making a cake! You need flour, eggs, butter and sugar, and an oven for the cake to cook! But we don't put frosting and sprinkles on babies! [Insert giggles.]

Maybe one day you could donate something to someone in need! What do you think you would donate?" - If you or they already donate to charity etc., talk about it and how it helps the people in need.



Will I ever meet my donor? / Who is my donor? / Do you know my donor?


This answer will differ for every family, but try to be as open and honest with your child as you can while keeping it age appropriate. The chances are, if your child is asking these questions, they are old enough and mature enough to comprehend what a donor is and are ready to hear the answers.


| If your donor is a friend or relative:

If your child already knows their donor personally and perhaps has a relationship with him, but doesn't yet know that he is their donor, this is the perfect opportunity to disclose it to them as they are seeking answers. If you feel ready to do so, simply explain to them that they have already met him - you could say something like, "You have already met him! *Uncle Matt* is your donor! He knew that *Mama* and I needed help to have a family and he wanted to help us to have you." Answer any follow-up questions from your child with honesty and reassurance.

If you have a relationship with your donor but your child doesn't, explain to them that their donor is your friend, relative etc., and talk to them about your relationship with him. If you, your partner, and your donor are happy for your child to meet him, inform your child that they can meet their donor whenever they wish to and feel ready to. Ensure that your child knows that they do not have to meet him if they do not wish to. For example, "Your donor is a friend of mine, we went to school together! He knew that *Mama* and I needed help to have a family and he wanted to help us to have you. If you ever want to meet him, you can! Whenever you feel ready. He would be happy to meet you too! But you don't ever have to meet him if you don't want to. It's your decision and you don't have to make it today, or tomorrow, or until you're much older!"


| If you chose an open donor:

You can explain to your child that once they reach the age of 18, they will have the ability to contact/potentially meet their donor if they wish to - but until they are an adult they cannot do this, and they won't truly know how they feel about it until they are older. If you have a photograph of the donor and/or information about him from his donor profile, you could use this opportunity to share it with your child. Discuss the photograph/information with your child and express to them how kind their donor is because he selflessly chooses to help people to become parents - let your child know that their donor made the choice and it is something he wanted to do. You could briefly talk to your child about the process and explain that you have never met him either - he is a kind and generous stranger who helps people he has never even met.


Example:

"When you are older and turn 18, you will be able to contact him and maybe even meet him if you wish to! But not until you are an adult and have a better understanding of how you feel about it. I can show you a photograph of him that we kept for you, do you want to see? He has curly brown hair like you doesn't he! He is a vet and helps to make poorly animals better, isn't that awesome? We have never met him either, but we know that he is a very kind and generous person who wants to help people. Isn't it amazing that he chooses to help people who he has never even met!? You can always ask us questions about him but we might not know the answer to everything. Is there anything else you want to ask?"


| If you chose an anonymous donor:

This one may be a little more difficult to approach. It's important to be honest with your child and simply tell them that no, they won't be able to meet their donor. You can explain your reasoning for choosing an anonymous donor but the depth of this will depend on their age. For a young child (under 8) you could simply leave it at, "No sweetie, you won't be able to meet him because he's anonymous, that means we don't know his identity or who he is. He just wants to help people by giving them something they need, without them knowing who gave it to them. He's very kind."

For an older child, you can talk about DNA testing and discuss how they can find out more about their genetics when they are older if they wish to. Assure your child that you will help and support them with this when the time comes. Explain to them how it works and what information they will be able to find out - make sure that they know this does not mean that they will find their donor, but may help them to discover more about their DNA that comes from him. Perhaps discuss with your child that if they did happen to find their donor through DNA testing and wished to contact him, they should be prepared for the harsh reality of not being a welcomed surprise because of anonymity, and respect his wishes if he does not want to be contacted by them. It should be your child's choice to attempt to find/contact the donor as their needs are what's important, even if that might be hard for you as the parents.



How did you get the sperm? - Discussing the process


The answer to this question will also differ for every family and the detail of the response will depend on the age of the child. Keep it simple and think about comparing the complex things to something that they are more likely to understand.


Example:

"Your donor gave his sperm to a place called a sperm bank - like a store for sperm! The sperm bank keeps the sperm until a family who needs it is ready to make a baby. *Mama* and I went to the sperm store and collected the sperm when we were ready to make you! There were lots of donors to choose from who had given their sperm to the store. The sperm we picked for you was very special because it came from a donor who... [explain your reasoning for choosing your donor].

After we chose the sperm, we went to a special doctor who put the sperm and *Mommy's* egg together so that it could turn into a baby! That baby was you! You grew in my tummy until you were ready to come out and I gave birth to you - 6 years ago!

Do you understand? Is there anything else you'd like to ask?"



What do I do if someone makes fun of me for having two moms?


Children can sometimes feel concerned about how others may react to their family, especially slightly older children who are able to grasp that their family is different from the 'norm'. That's why instilling confidence in them from a very young age is vital when it comes to talking about their family. If children feel confident, secured and positive about discussing their family, they will be able to better handle a negative situation. Give your child the tools to handle any possible negative situations, and prepare them for the harsh reality that not everyone is going to understand. Assure your child that there is nothing wrong with them or their family, it's just that some children haven't been taught about same-sex relationships or have been given misinformed information, and therefore a lack of education leads to a lack of understanding. And this is why children bully.

Teach your child that they need to be vocal if/when someone teases them and tell an adult, whether that's you (their parents) or their teacher, in order for the appropriate action to be taken.


Example:

"If someone makes fun of you for having two moms, it's just because they don't understand. There's nothing wrong with you or with your family, some children just haven't been taught about same-sex relationships and families or may have been given incorrect information about them. Which is why some children may bully. Children can be unkind sometimes and will make fun of the silliest of things! Children get teased for wearing glasses, being clever, having red hair, for their hobbies and interests, the list is endless! But bullying is never okay and you need to speak up and tell an adult if it happens to you, whether you tell us or your teacher. Never stay silent. If someone is unkind to you, it is best to walk away or tell that person that they should not have said that. Our differences are something to be proud of and are what make us all unique. Imagine if everyone was the same, wouldn't the world be so boring!"






Two Dads - Surrogacy



Why do I have two dads? / Why don't I have a mommy?


In a world that is mainly centered around moms and motherhood, dads are often left feeling like they are not adequate or 'enough'. This goes for all dads - gay or not - and therefore this question may feel very daunting. But it is important to remember that children are simply just being curious and comparing themselves to the world they see around them, processing why they are different. You can focus on explaining to your child that families come in all shapes and sizes, and reassure them that there is no right or wrong way to be a family. Give examples of different family dynamics and point out that all families are unique and created out of love just like theirs.

You could also go on to talk about and list the mother-like, female role models that your child does have in their life, reassuring them that they aren't missing out on anything, and express that having two dads is perfectly normal and okay.


Example:

"Every family is different! Some families have a mom and a dad, some have one mom or one dad, some have two dads (like yours!) or two moms, some children are raised by their grandparents, aunts, uncles or other family members, some children have step-parents, some families only have one child and some families have ten! You see? All families are different and none of them are right or wrong. They are all unique! You have two dads because *Papa* and I love each other very much and we wanted to have a family. You are our dream come true!

You don't have a mommy but you do have important women in your life who love you very much, [list or ask them to list] *Grandma*, *Nana*, *Aunt Jess* and *Aunt Emma*! Not having a mommy doesn't mean you're missing out on anything, just like the children who don't have two daddies aren't missing out on anything. Some children don't have two daddies, but lots of children do! We're all very lucky to have the families that we have, no matter what they look like! What matters is that we love each other."



Do I have a mom? / Where's my mom?


Again, when children ask this question, it's important to remember that they are not asking because they are unhappy with having two dads and want a mom, but are simply curious as to whether they have one. Terminology is important when answering this question. Make sure your child knows that they do not have a 'mom', but do have a 'donor' / 'surrogate', and explain this difference to them.

You can choose how much detail to go into about reproduction depending on their age.


Example:


| If you chose traditional surrogacy:

"You don't have a mom, *Papa* and I are your parents, and we raise you, care for you and love you. But you do have a surrogate! A surrogate is someone who carries a baby in their tummy for someone who isn't able to. *Papa* and I couldn't carry you in our tummies because our tummies don't have a womb, which is where a baby grows, so we needed the help of your surrogate. Your surrogate carried you in her tummy and you grew bigger and bigger until you were ready to be born. To make a baby you need sperm (which *Papa* and I have), eggs, and a tummy with a womb for the baby to grow.

[You can choose how much detail to go into here regarding sexes and biology.]

Like making a cake! You need flour, eggs (a different kind of egg to the one that makes a baby!), butter and sugar, and an oven for the cake to cook! But we don't put frosting and sprinkles on babies! [Insert giggles.] Your surrogate gave us her eggs and her tummy, and *Papa* [or we] gave his sperm to make you.

People can give all kinds of different things to people who are in need of them, their blood, organs, hair, food and clothes! Your surrogate gave us something very special - the opportunity to become dads! We are very thankful for her and what she chose to do for us.

Maybe one day you could give something to someone in need! What do you think you would give?" - If you or they already donate to charity etc., talk about it and how it helps the people in need.


| If you chose gestational surrogacy:

"You don't have a mom, *Papa* and I are your parents, and we raise you, care for you and love you. But you do have two very special women who helped to make you! You have a surrogate and an egg donor! A surrogate is someone who carries a baby in their tummy for someone who isn't able to, *Papa* and I couldn't carry you in our tummies because our tummies don't have a womb, which is where a baby grows. And an egg donor is someone who donates their eggs, which *Papa* and I also don't have in our bodies. Sometimes the eggs and the womb come from the same person, and sometimes they come from two different people. To make a baby you need sperm (which *Papa* and I have), eggs, and a tummy with a womb for the baby to grow.

[You can choose how much detail to go into here regarding sexes and biology.]

It's like making a cake! You need flour, eggs (a different kind of egg to the one that makes a baby!), butter and sugar, and an oven for the cake to cook! But we don't put frosting and sprinkles on babies! [Insert giggles.]

Because *Papa* and I only had the sperm, we needed the help of your egg donor who gave us her eggs, and your surrogate who grew you in her tummy. Your surrogate carried you in her tummy and you grew bigger and bigger until you were ready to be born.

We are very thankful for what these two special women gave to us and what they chose to do for us.

People can give all kinds of different things to people who are in need of them, their blood, organs, hair, food and clothes! Maybe one day you could give something to someone in need! What do you think you would give?" - If you or they already donate to charity etc., talk about it and how it helps the people in need.



Will I ever meet my surrogate? / Who is my surrogate? / Do you know my surrogate?


This answer will differ for every family, but try to be as open and honest with your child as you can while keeping it age appropriate. The chances are, if your child is asking these questions, they are old enough and mature enough to comprehend what a surrogate is and are ready to hear the answers.


| If your surrogate is a friend or relative:

If your child already knows their surrogate personally and perhaps has a relationship with her, but doesn't yet know that she is their surrogate, this is the perfect opportunity to disclose it to them as they are seeking answers. If you feel ready to do so, simply explain to them that they have already met her - you could say something like, "You have already met her! *Aunt Jess* is your surrogate! She knew that *Papa* and I needed help to have a family and she wanted to help us to have you." Answer any follow-up questions from your child with honesty and reassurance.

If you have a relationship with your surrogate but your child doesn't, explain to them that their surrogate is your friend, relative etc., and talk to them about your relationship with her. If you, your partner, and your surrogate are happy for your child to meet her, inform your child that they can meet their surrogate whenever they wish to and feel ready to. Ensure that your child knows that they do not have to meet her if they do not wish to. For example, "Your surrogate is a friend of mine, we went to school together! She knew that *Papa* and I needed help to have a family and she wanted to help us to have you. If you ever want to meet her, you can! Whenever you feel ready. She would be happy to meet you too! But you don't ever have to meet her if you don't want to. It's your decision and you don't have to make it today, or tomorrow, or until you're much older!"


| If you met your surrogate through the matching process:

If you didn't know your surrogate beforehand and got to know her through the matching process, you could briefly talk your child through the process.


Example:

"When *Papa* and I were ready to have a baby, we needed to find a special person who could help us to become dads. Your surrogate was that special person! She wanted to help someone to have a baby, and she chose to help us! We got to know her and she got to know us, and we became friends!

[If you have a photograph of your surrogate, you could use this opportunity to share it with your child. Discuss the photograph and/or her personality with your child and express to them how kind their surrogate is because she selflessly chooses to help people to become parents - let your child know that their surrogate made the choice and it is something she wanted to do.]

She is very funny and kind. She has two of her own children too! We visited her a lot while you were growing in her tummy and she would always send us updates about you! We were at the hospital when she gave birth to you and *Papa* was the first person to hold you! She was so happy to see how happy we were and how much we loved you!

If you ever want to meet her, you can! Whenever you feel ready. She would be happy to meet you too! But you don't ever have to meet her if you don't want to. It's your decision and you don't have to make it today, or tomorrow, or until you're much older!"


[The same goes for questions regarding their egg donor.]



How did I get in her tummy? - Discussing the process


Keep it simple and think about comparing the complex things to something that they are more likely to understand.


Example:

"Remember what 3 things we need to make a baby? That's right - sperm, eggs and a tummy with a womb. *Papa* provided the sperm from his body, [gestational surrogacy - 'your egg donor provided the egg from her body'], and your surrogate provided the [traditional surrogacy - 'egg and the'] tummy with a womb! The doctor put the sperm and the egg together and put them inside your surrogate's tummy. Isn't that clever! There you grew until you were ready to come out and meet your daddies! It takes 9 months for a baby to grow until they are ready to be born.

Do you understand? Is there anything else you'd like to ask?"



What do I do if someone makes fun of me for having two dads?


Children can sometimes feel concerned about how others may react to their family, especially slightly older children who are able to grasp that their family is different from the 'norm'. That's why instilling confidence in them from a very young age is vital when it comes to talking about their family. If children feel confident, secured and positive about discussing their family, they will be able to better handle a negative situation. Give your child the tools to handle any possible negative situations, and prepare them for the harsh reality that not everyone is going to understand. Assure your child that there is nothing wrong with them or their family, it's just that some children haven't been taught about same-sex relationships or have been given misinformed information, and therefore a lack of education leads to a lack of understanding. And this is why children bully.

Teach your child that they need to be vocal if/when someone teases them and tell an adult, whether that's you (their parents) or their teacher, in order for the appropriate action to be taken.


Example:

"If someone makes fun of you for having two dads, it's just because they don't understand. There's nothing wrong with you or with your family, some children just haven't been taught about same-sex relationships and families or may have been given incorrect information about them. Which is why some children may bully. Children can be unkind sometimes and will make fun of the silliest of things! Children get teased for wearing glasses, being clever, having red hair, for their hobbies and interests, the list is endless! But bullying is never okay and you need to speak up and tell an adult if it happens to you, whether you tell us or your teacher. Never stay silent. If someone is unkind to you, it is best to walk away or tell that person that they should not have said that. Our differences are something to be proud of and are what make us all unique. Imagine if everyone was the same, wouldn't the world be so boring!"






Adopted Children



This section is dedicated to questions specifically related to adoption, however some of the questions in the other two categories may also apply to your child.

We advise talking to your child about adoption and birth families from the very beginning. It is best to tell them early on at a very young age to ensure that they don't learn about their adoption from anyone else other than you, and so that the topic of adoption is normalized and they are not made to feel that their adoption is a bad thing which should not be talked about. You could introduce the topic of adoption through children's books and begin discussing it this way. Children need to be made to feel positive about their adoption and feel proud, comfortable and confident in discussing it throughout their life. Express and reassure your child how loved by you they are and that being adopted does not mean they are loved any less than a child who is with their birth parents (or any less loved than your biological children if you have any). Be sensitive to your child if they become upset, distressed or ask lots of questions about their adoption.

Research suggests for parents to tell their child that they are adopted between the ages of 2 and 4 if they are a different race to you, and between the ages of 4 and 5 if they are the same race as you. Although children may not fully comprehend and understand the concept until ages 6-8.

The following responses are guided by an adoptee and based on younger children (aged 4-7) unless otherwise stated.



Why am I adopted? / Why did you adopt me?


For this question, focus on the reasons why you - as the adoptive parents - chose to adopt your child and less about why they can't be with their birth family. Make this response very positive!


Example:

"We wanted to bring a baby [or child] into our family and knew that there were lots of children that we could love and take care of. So we chose you! [In open adoption cases - if your child's birth parent(s) also chose you - express it!]. We were so happy to have you and were so excited when we brought you home [or you came to live with us]. You are very special to us and we love you so very much. We couldn't imagine life without you!"

[You could go on to talk more in depth about the first time you met them.]




Why couldn't my birth mom/parents keep me? - younger children


It is best to be honest with your child and tell them what you know, but only add in details that are age appropriate. The response to this question will depend on the age of the child who is asking, and the answer will evolve and become more complex as your child ages. It is important to always express love and an open line of communication about the topic of adoption. It is also important to remember that children will sometimes ask seemingly big questions, when really it may require a "simple" answer. Always lift up the birth family and never shame them. It is important to be respectful of the birth family and show empathy and kindness to all parties.


Example:

"Your birth mother cared for you in her tummy and then she wanted to choose us to continue to love you! She wasn't ready to parent when you were born. She wasn't able to take good care of you and keep you safe as she did not have enough money or food [adapt to your situation]. She wanted the best for you. She cares about you very much and is happy knowing that you are happy, loved, and safe with us."


Why couldn't my birth mom/parents keep me? - older children


As your child gets older, they will require (and deserve) a more detailed and truthful answer to this question regarding the exact reasons they were placed for adoption. They may become distressed, confused or upset when finding out the truth so the conversation needs to be handled with care. Make sure you feel that your child is developmentally ready for this discussion as despite our age guidance, every child is different. Every parent and family is different, and you may not feel that your child is ready to hear such painful and sensitive information or that it is appropriate to go into as much detail as these responses do until your child is a lot older - it is a personal decision for each family. We do suggest that you tell your child everything that you know about their adoption and birth family by age 16.

Remember never to shame the birth family and be sensitive to your child.


9+ years


Poverty/homeless - "Your birth mom [or birth parents] was very poor and didn't have enough money, food or a safe environment to care for you [add 'she was homeless' if it applies]. So she made a plan for you which would give you a better life than she could give you. That was a very selfless and brave decision for her to make and shows how much she loved and cared for you and your well-being. She is happy knowing that you are happy, loved, and safe with us."


Teenage pregnancy - "Your birth mom was too young to care for a baby. She was just a child herself [or state age] when she became pregnant. So she made a sensible decision and chose to place you with us to ensure that you would be properly taken care of by two adults who were ready to care for a child. She very much cared for you and your well-being. She is happy knowing that you are happy, loved, and safe with us."


11+ years


Mental health issues - "You know how when we get sick it affects different parts of our body - like a sickness bug affects our tummy or an ear infection affects our ears? Well sometimes people can get illnesses which affect their mind [or brain]. These illnesses are very hard to treat and last a lot longer than 48 hours like a stomach bug does, and sometimes they never go away. When someone has these illnesses they are not able to care for a child. This is what happened with your birth mom, she could not care for you because her mind was not healthy. So to ensure that you would be safe and properly taken care of, it was best for you to be placed with us because we could provide you with the care, safety and love that you needed."


Child Protective Services / substance misuse / neglect - "Sadly your birth mom wasn't able to provide a safe environment for you or care for you properly. She didn't have a choice of whether to keep you or not as the Child Protective Services decided that her lifestyle was too dangerous for you. They wanted you to be safe and properly cared for. Sometimes adults can have a lot of complicated problems [you can choose whether or not to go into details about substance misuse here if it applies to your situation] and reasons for why they can't provide a safe and healthy environment for a child. We're not aware of the exact troubles that your birth mom faced which led her to make some bad decisions, but we wish her well and pray that she can find the strength within herself to fight through her struggles."


*Take extra care*

Rape - "You know how there are some bad people in the world who choose to do bad things? Sometimes a person chooses to have sex with another person even though that person doesn't want to. [If you want your child to be aware of the exact terms, you can add 'this is known as rape, sexual assault or non-consensual sex'.] And sometimes when this happens, a woman can become pregnant. This is what happened to your birth mom. But sometimes good things can come from something bad, and that good thing was you. Your birth mom wanted you to have life and so she cared for you while you were in her tummy and made a plan for you. That plan was to place you with parents who were ready for you and able to take care of you and raise you. She is happy knowing that you are happy, loved, and safe with us."


Unknown to you why your child was placed for adoption - "We don't know exactly why your birth mom could not care for you and what the circumstances were. We wish we knew more too. We know that she had a hard life and wasn't able to give you the care and safety that you need. But we are able to provide you with these things and we are so so happy and blessed to have you."




Do I have a mom? (two dads) / Do I have another mom? (two moms)


Terminology is an important thing to think about here. If you would prefer to encourage your child to refer to their birth mother as their "birth mom", "bio mom" or "tummy mummy", gently tell them. Or, take into account what your child's birth mother prefers to be called if that had been discussed. Explain to them that a mom is a present adult figure who is active in a child's life and is not the same as a birth mother who is not in the child's life. You could go into genetics and what makes a baby using age appropriate terminology if you wish to.


Example:

"You have a birth mom! Some children also call their birth mom their tummy mummy! These names are used because she is the person who carried you in her tummy and gave birth to you.

But *Papa and I* / *Mama and I* are your parents and we raise and care for you. A mom is someone who is present in their child's life, raises them and takes care of them, so when we are referring to your birth mom perhaps we should use the term 'birth mom', 'bio mom' or 'tummy mummy' instead - which one do you like? You have your birth mom's [or the name your child has chosen] DNA, that means that you look like her! You [or I think you] got your beautiful brown hair and blue eyes from her! Do you think I look like [your mother] *Nana*?"



Will I ever see my birth mom/parents again?


The response to this question will depend on whether your child has an open or closed adoption.


| If your child has an open adoption:

"Yes, you can! Whenever you feel ready to meet her - we'll support you. We are in touch with your birth mom and send her updates about you, so she knows that you are doing well! Would you like to see a photograph of her? Let's cuddle up and talk about everything we know about her."

After talking with your child for a while, you could ask, "Would you like to draw her a picture? Or write a letter to her?"

| If your child has a closed adoption:

"Sadly it will be very hard to find her sweetie, although it's not impossible! Once you are a little bit older and truly know how you feel about it, we can help you to search for her if you wanted to! There are special people - like detectives - who can help you to find your birth family using any information that we do have, and they put all of that information together like a big jigsaw puzzle! But sadly they cannot always find everyone they are looking for, so when it comes to it, that is something we will need to prepare you for. I bet she looks like you! What color hair do you think she has? What color eyes? Would you like to draw a picture of what you think she looks like?

How do you feel about what I've told you?" [Remain empathetic and discuss feelings.]



Why do I have a different skin color to you/my siblings?


Children with a different skin color to their parents will learn that they are adopted at an earlier age than those who have the same skin color as their parents. Children notice these physical differences as early as 2 years old, therefore the questions will naturally come earlier.

At this age they are too young to understand the social meaning of race, and are simply noticing physical differences. It is important for any parent to talk to their child early about racial diversity, and aim for "color fairness" not "color blindness". It is important to acknowledge differences to prepare your child for living in a multi-ethnic society. As they grow, ensure that your child is proud of their ethnicity as it is a part of who they are, and teach them that we treat everybody fairly and equally no matter our differences, no color is superior. Be sure to surround your child with children's books, art, dolls, toys etc., that reflect them. If you can, make sure that they interact and have positive relationships with a racially diverse group of people. Teach them about their heritage and celebrate it, incorporate the traditions of your child's culture, food, music etc., into your family's life, even if this is just from time to time.


Example:

"We get our skin color from our birth parents. You have brown [dark brown, tan] skin because your birth mom has brown skin. I have white [tan, brown] skin like *Nana* because she is my birth mom. There are so many different skin colors and every one of them is beautiful!"

You could leave it there or go on to say...

"There are lots of differences that people can have - different hair colors, eye color, likes and dislikes - can you think of a difference that people might have? [Praise their answer or use 'short or tall' if they could not answer.] But we can also have things in common with another person, do you know what that means? [Praise their answer or state 'it means that we have something the same as them' if they could not answer.] What is the same about you and me? [Try to think of any similarities, even if not physical. For example, we both love pizza!]

Our differences are what make us who we are, wouldn't it be boring if we were all the same!"



Why didn't my birth mom love me? / Did my birth mom love me? / Will you always love me?


This can be a very upsetting thing to hear coming from your child's mouth and will likely give you a lump in your throat. If it makes you emotional, try not to let your child see. Show your child lots of love and affection when discussing this - sit them on your lap and make sure there are no distractions around you.


Example:

"She does love you sweetie, she just cannot care for you. She wanted us to continue to love you and keep you safe. Sometimes the parents that we are intended to be with are not the ones who created us. Children come into families in lots of different ways. She wanted to give you life and wanted the best for you. She made a loving, brave and selfless choice by letting you be raised by someone who could give you better than she could. By placing you for adoption, she showed how much she loved you by making sure you would have a good life. You are so very loved, and we will love and care for you forever."



What do I do if someone makes fun of me for being adopted?


Children can sometimes feel concerned about how others may react to their family, especially slightly older children who are able to grasp that their family is different from the 'norm'. That's why instilling confidence in them from a very young age is vital when it comes to talking about their family and adoption. If children feel confident, secured and positive about discussing their family and adoption, they will be able to better handle a negative situation. Give your child the tools to handle any possible negative situations, and prepare them for the harsh reality that some children may say some hurtful things. Assure your child that there is nothing wrong with being adopted, it's just that some children haven't been taught about adoption and therefore a lack of education leads to a lack of understanding. And this is why children bully.

Teach your child that they need to be vocal if/when someone teases them and tell an adult, whether that's you (their parents) or their teacher, in order for the appropriate action to be taken.


Example:

"If someone makes fun of you for being adopted, it's just because they don't understand. You came into your family in a different way to them, so sometimes children can be unkind and bully someone for their differences, and that hurts our feelings. When children are being unkind, often they don't understand or realize that their words can really hurt. And they will make fun of the silliest of things! Children can get teased for wearing glasses, being clever, having red hair, for their hobbies and interests, the list is endless! But bullying is never okay and you need to speak up and tell an adult if it happens to you, whether you tell us or your teacher. Never stay silent. If someone is unkind to you, it is best to walk away or tell that person that they should not have said that.

Our differences are something to be proud of and are what make us all beautifully unique. Imagine if everyone was the same, wouldn't the world be so boring!"



A very special thank you to Rosie (donor-conceived adult and writer) and Elena (adoptee and author of 'Through Adopted Eyes') for their expertise and guidance.


If there are any other questions and responses which you feel should be included, please get in touch with us. We hope that you find this guide useful and are able to find comfort in knowing that these questions are completely normal and your child is not the only one asking them.


Thanks for reading!


Same Sex Parents x



June 21, 2019

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© 2019 by Same Sex Parents.

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