Understanding adoption and what it means can be a complex and individualized experience. As a child who has been adopted grows up, they will want to continue to understand how their adoption is having an impact on their life journey. Often, the parent(s) of the adopted child are called upon to help their child understand what it means to be adopted and what impact this decision can have on their lives as they enter adolescence and eventually transition into adulthood. This section provides resources on how to discuss adoption and its meaning for all stages of a child’s life.
What Are Some Developmental Concerns Facing Adopted Kids?
Gladney Center for Adoption
Discusses types of developmental concerns that children and youth who have been adopted either privately, from foster care, or internationally may deal with including identity and self-esteem, speech and communication, and emotional and behavioral attachment.
Developing Emotional Attachments in Adopted Children
Attachment Parenting International
Outlines the ways in which adoption can affect child attachment and suggests ways parents can form emotional bonds with their children.
Eight Principles of Parenting the Adopted Infant and Young Child (PDF - 405 KB)
Attachment Parenting International (2019)
Provides an overview of attachment parenting and the principles a family can instill to nurture a trusting and empathetic upbringing with their adopted child.
How Infants Grieve: A Guide for New Adoptive Parents
Explains the ways in which infants communicate grief before language develops and provides recommendations for parents whose children are exhibiting these signs.
Talking to Youth Three-to-Five-Year-Old About Adoption (PDF - 238 KB)
Offers ways to approach talking about adoption with your child including sample questions to ask and why a child might be curious about their adoption.
Preschoolers and elementary school
Intervening Early to Promote the Development of Adopted and Foster Children (PDF - 1,020 KB)
Raby & Dozier (2019)
The Future of Adoption
Rudd Adoption Research Program, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Examines evidence-based interventions for adopted youth and youth in foster care who have experienced adversity in their caregiving relationships, which in some cases have led to problematic outcomes.
Parenting Your Adopted Preschooler
Parenting Your Adopted School-Age Child
Talking About Adoption
Discusses the importance of normalizing adoption and shares strategies on how to talk about adoption with infants, teenagers, young adults, and adults.
Adolescents and young adults
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Population Affairs
Explores how adolescents change and develop as well as the issues they may face as they mature. This webpage includes sections on healthy relationships, mental health, physical and reproductive health, and substance use.
Adolescents and Adoption (PDF - 670 KB)
Singer & Riley (2016)
Center for Adoption Support and Education
Explains why adolescence can be a particularly turbulent time for adopted teenagers and goes over the ways in which parents can support their children during this time period.
Adoption and the Teen Years: Understanding Adoption and Adolescence
Adoptions Together (2019)
Discusses ways to talk to teenagers about their adoption including topics on teenage development, teen identity, and how to build and maintain relationships with birth family members.
Beneath the Mask: Adoption through the Eyes of Adolescents
National Council for Adoption
Presents six core issues affecting adolescent adoptees in order to support parents and providers in supporting adolescents' transition from childhood to adulthood.
Parenting Your Adopted Teenager
Talking with Children About Adoption – The Teen Years (PDF - 746 KB)
Center for Adoption Support and Education
Offers strategies on how to successfully talk about adoption with teenagers including extra challenges that teenagers might be experiencing, why communication is key and shares tips on effective parent communication with teens.
Youth Are Never Too Old to Be Adopted
Flynn & Welch
North American Council on Adoptable Children
Shares testimony from older youth on why you are never too old to be adopted and offers insight on what being adopted as an older youth is like, including the decision to be adopted, the adoption process, and the positives and negatives of being adopted as an older youth.