How to Explain Adoption to A 7-Year-Old


Adoption is wonderful, but for a 7-year-old it can be confusing to get a new brother or sister that didn’t come from the hospital. It can also be confusing for a 7-year-old to be adopted into a new family as well. 

In light of that, how do you explain adoption to a 7-year-old? Explain to them that some children are born to parents who can’t keep them. Some children have parents who have died. Because these children don’t have parents, they need someone who will accept them into their family. They need brothers and sisters and parents who are willing to let them be a part of a family even though they do not have the same blood. 

Some 7-year-olds may need no explanation while others will need you to break it down for them. You never know exactly how a child is going to react to something as serious, and quite possibly exciting, as adoption. You may be nervous about whether their reaction will be negative or positive. What do you do?

Explaining Adoption to an Adopted 7-year-old

Establish their value:

By explaining to them that they are special and important to you can help them feel secure. Oftentimes when a child discovers they are adopted, they suddenly feel like they do not belong and are not as important as their siblings. A 7-year-old may not understand why they feel this way, but their actions will show you that’s how they are feeling. 

One of the best ways you can help them recognize their value is to share with them the story of how you adopted them. Hearing you explain why you wanted to adopt them will help them to feel loved and accepted despite not being blood-related.

Help them understand their place: 

Because they were not born into your family, an adopted 7-year-old may not understand where they fit in. They may feel loved, but they may feel like they do not fit in.

A great way to explain about adoption is to get on their level. What are they feeling? What must it be like for them? 

This is especially applicable in situations where a child that is not the same race or ethnicity has been adopted. As a parent, you understand that it doesn’t matter what race or ethnicity the child is, but they may feel uncomfortable for a while. 

In this case, it is vitally important for them to understand in a simple way where they fit in. How do they make a difference? How can they possibly be a part of a family they weren’t born into? 

Note: Always remember that you mustn’t force your child to feel as though they are accepted. There is as an adjustment that needs to take place. Adjustment takes time, time that sometimes no explanation can replace. 

Adoption Books:

Here is a list of 10 children’s books about adoption. Some are about animals, and others are about humans. All of them are written with the intent to help children understand better the why’s and what’s of adoption.

They are written with possible questions any child might ask about being adopted. After every book title, there is a link that will take you to Amazon where you can purchase them. 

Adoption meetings and Other Parents:

Sometimes other people can help explain to your child what you haven’t been successful explaining. There are meetings you and your child can attend where there are other adoptive children and parents present.

A 7-year-old’s understanding of adoption can grow as they spend time with other children which have been adopted. Other adoptive parents can help you find new ways to help your 7-year-old understand. 

Explaining Adoption to the 7-year-old Birth Sibling of an Adopted Child

Along with explaining adoption to a 7-year-old who’s been adopted, sometimes it’s necessary to explain it to a 7-year-old who has an adopted sibling. It’s not easy to get a new sibling, especially if they look different or came differently than they’ve seen before. 

A 7-year-old may be excited, or they may be upset. The first thing you need to do before explaining is remember that you can’t force them to be okay with it. Both siblings, the adopted and non-adopted child, will be going through an adjustment period. That is completely normal. 

Help them understand their sibling’s value

You will have to follow some of the same steps of explaining adoption with your 7-year-old birth sibling as with your adopted child. Hopefully, it will be a bit easier to explain it to a birth sibling than an adopted child. 

A 7-year-old who has an adopted sibling may have a hard time understanding, but they may get it sooner than the adopted child because they have that stability of being born into the family. 

Explain to your child that their adopted sibling is just as important and part of the family as they are. Explain to them that they are just like a sibling that could have been born from their parents. The way their brother or sister got there doesn’t make them less of a sibling. 

Help them understand that they are not being replaced

Just like with the excitement of getting a new brother or sister that is born at a hospital, a 7-year-old may start to feel like they are being replaced. Because of the special means by which their sibling came into the family, they may doubt their value. 

It can be hard for them to understand that an adopted brother or sister does not make them lose their importance.

Note: It is important for children to not only be told they are loved but to feel that they are loved. Reminding them of their importance through words as well as actions will help prevent feelings of abandonment. 

Books on Adoption for the Birth Sibling:

Here is a list of books for the birth sibling to read to understand what it means to hav their brother or sister adopted. 

Does My 7-year-old Really Understand Adoption? 

You may wonder how you can know whether your 7-year-old really understood what you explained to them. While it’s true they may not have grasped the entire concept of adoption, you’ll know if they understood if they begin to calm down.

Your teaching ability won’t be perfect, and you shouldn’t worry too much if your child’s response isn’t immediately what you want it to be. Most likely your 7-year-old will start acting like they belong because they feel like they do belong. (This goes for both your adopted child and birth sibling.) 

Just remember, 7-year-olds are pretty good at adjusting to circumstances once they have a good understanding of the why and how. It’s 4- to 6-year olds that really have issues with change.

7-year-olds are pretty good at adjusting quickly and moving forward. There are extenuating circumstances with 7-year-olds which may have been taken out of a situation where they didn’t want to leave, but that’s just a part of it. 

The most important thing for you to remember is that they are young. 7-year-olds will probably need you to explain adoption to them more than once, maybe even every day.

It’s just a part of their understanding process. Their brain is still developing. 

Once they begin to get a little older, it will start to sink in until they have a fuller understanding of what adoption is. However, it’s important to start talking about adoption as soon as possible so they have all that time to mull it over and get used to the idea. 

What do I do if my 7-year-old is Upset About Being Adopted?

First of all, don’t panic. Let your child express how they feel. Listen to every word he/she has to say about the matter. Remind your child that you love them and that they are a member of your family.

Your 7-year-old may have negative feelings towards being adopted. With a proper explanation and patience in teaching them about adoption, they will eventually understand. 

Remember repetition. Kids need to be reminded consistently for things to sink in. Be patient, and remind them that you not only love them, but adoption is a good thing. It means they have a family that loves them and wants them. 

It’s important to stay positive even if your 7-year-old can’t be for a while. They will come around if they see your example. Let them get their feelings out. When children find out they are adopted or are presently going through the process, they are going to have a lot of emotions.

Remember not to panic. Be patient. Remind them they are loved. Encourage them to talk to you if they are upset about being adopted. 

They may not know what to do with those emotions. It’s up to you as a parent to be their guide. The more stability they feel emanating from you, the easier it will be for them to cope with being adopted. 

Especially in cases where there was a relationship that had already been established between your 7-year-old and their birth mother, that will take some time. It’s not going to happen overnight. 

They may even harbor some sadness for quite a while, but it will fade with lots of love and your patient guidance. They should never feel guilty about still loving their birth parents. That’s completely reasonable. 

Does My Child Feel Abandoned?

Adopting a 7-year-old is wonderful, but there can be a few repercussions from their being adopted. 7-year-olds are at an age where they are beginning to understand what it means to be given away. They may feel abandoned, as many do.

Some parents may think, “Well, if I love them enough, they won’t feel abandoned anymore.” While love has a lot to do with it, it’s not just going to go away with a few hugs and kisses. These kids are older. Their impressionable years are barely beginning. 

From 0-6 they are at a crucial age where the connections they make with others have an effect on who they will be as an adult. Those age groups are the ones who need the most structure and stability. Seven-year-olds are at an age where they should have begun to develop patterns and habits of that very structure and stability.

They are extremely impressionable, and if they are taken away from their environment, it can be confusing and frustrating for their growth. It is important that you are patient with them. 

It can be difficult to help them understand how to deal with being adopted. The fact is, some birth parents gave their child away because they didn’t want them, and others because they couldn’t keep them.

Whatever the case may be, 7-year-olds only know one thing, their parents aren’t their parents anymore. 

This kind of attitude can cause them to feel abandoned and they may lash out at you because of that reason. 

Why Don’t They Want Me to Be Their Mother/Father?

An adopted child’s words or actions may lead you to feel that they do not want or accept you as their parent. In a way, that’s correct. However, it’s not permanent, and it is in no way happening because you are a bad parent. 

When they lash out, they may say things like, “Well, you’re not my real mom!” or, “My real mom never made me do that!” In both cases, it is not a reflection of your parenting ability, it’s because your 7-year-old is hurt inside. 

They are possibly trying to understand how they have one set of parents for one minute and the next another. Or, they may not understand that the situation is not temporary. Whatever the case may be, it is not because they don’t want you as a parent.

What Are Some Ways I Can Make My Adopted 7-year-old Feel Welcome?

The first thing you should do is not overdo it. I’ve known some people that go way overboard in welcoming adoptive children into their family. It’s important for them to feel welcome and loved, but if they are treated too well their siblings will feel abandoned and neglected.

Not too mention that it’s totally unnecessary. The best thing you can do is treat them like one of the family. Do what you do with all your kids. You’ll have to make some adjustments according to each one’s circumstance and level of comprehension, but be normal. 

If you make too much of a deal out of their welcoming, it can actually create some imbalance for your adopted 7-year-old. They may create expectations in their mind about how things will always be. It could be detrimental to their adjustment. 

Normal is best. 

Let’s say you begin by treating your newly adopted son/daughter like they are the only important person in the world. That’s nice, but it creates an illusion that it’s quite true. 

I guess the point I’m trying to get at is that if you overdo it, you’ll just create problems for you and your 7-year-old in the long run. 

So, how do you make them feel truly welcome? Let them be a kid. Let them do what your other kids do. Give them the same parenting as your other kids. What matters is that they have a family they’ve never had before. 

What matters is that they are given what they might not have had, had they not been adopted. The best way to welcome them is to be the parents and family they need, not just the one they always wanted. 

Related Questions…

Where can I find some good parenting tips for 7-year-olds? Seven-year-olds love to play still. Getting games that will widen their understanding and mental horizons is a good idea. Also, when them about serious things, do it simply and expect that you will have to teach it more than once. 

What should I tell my 7-year-old son/daughter to tell their classmates when they ask them about being adopted? If you’ve taught them well, they probably won’t need help. The best thing to do is to be sure they have a positive attitude towards it. Help them understand that it’s okay to be proud of being adopted.

If you want something specific, you can teach them to say that you searched the entire world for someone specific to be your child, and when you found him/her you chose them to be it.  

Should I encourage my child to connect with their birth parents? That entirely depends on you. It also depends on whether or not you’ve had a closed adoption. If the birth parents don’t want any connection with their child, then there’s not much you can do about it.

If it’s an open adoption than it all depends on what both parties want. I do know that the child does have a right to know at least who their birth parents are.  Beyond that, you’d have to do some research.

HM Rose

I'm from a very small town in Utah, United States. I come from a family of ten children. I can fluently speak Portuguese and lived in Brazil for about one and a half years. I'm currently studying to become a more educated human being. Hopefully, I can make a career choice that will one day be of some great use to me. For now, I'm happy being a Creator.

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