How should you talk to your teenager about his/her adoption?

Adolescence is a time when all teenagers begin questioning who they really are. For teenagers who are adopted, confusion and fear about who they are and what their place in the world is can be especially acute. So while your child may have been ready to accept simple answers while young, you'll find your teenager is more curious, more critical of your answers, and more emotional about the topic. Your challenge is to let your teenager know that you are open to talk with him/her about adoption and to guide the conversation so your teenager also expresses his/her feelings.

Look for opportunities to lightly touch on the general issue of adoption or a specific challenge related to it. Don't change the moment and the mood to a "let's sit down and discuss this" situation; just take advantage of it by letting your teenager know you're open to discuss the issue. You can tell him/her you can talk about it now or later, whenever the teenager would like, but that you should talk about it. If your teenager never asks or looks to advance the conversation, you'll have to be more active. Don't ambush your teenager with an important conversation; since he/she is already resistant to talking about it, such an approach might further shut him/her down. Give your teenager a head's up that you'd like to talk about his/her adoption and set a time/place to do so.

Many teenagers who have been adopted have common questions. In case your teenager isn't telling you what he/she is thinking about, here are some likely concerns your teenager has about being adopted: Why was he/she adopted? Who are his/her biological parents? Does he/she have biological siblings? Will you always be his/her parents? What is his/her identity (ethnic, religious, racial, etc.)? Is it alright for him/her to think about his/her biological parents?