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Teaching Foster or Adopted Children How to Answer Questions from School Children


Going back to school can be an added trauma for a child in a new foster or adoptive home. Sometimes being a foster child or an adopted child can bring a lot of unwanted attention from other school children and some bullies. Some school children may ask hard questions that may be difficult for our kids to answer. It is up to us as parents to give our children the tools needed to handle themselves out in the world.

Answering Questions

Teach children that they do NOT have to answer every question. What is your child's business is his/her business alone!

    Q: Someone may ask, "Why didn't your mom want you?" or "Do you know your REAL mom?"
    A: Your foster/adoptive child may answer, "I don't want to talk about this right now", "I don't share personal information", "I am wanted by my family", "I know who my parents are, and they love me very much" or simply walk away. A reader recently shared that a response of, "I am wanted and loved by more than one family," worked for her as a child.

    Q: Someone may ask, "Why are you in foster care?"
    A: Your foster child may answer, "I need to live where it's safe right now" or again, just walk away.

    Q: Someone may ask, "Why were you adopted?"
    A: Your adoptive child may answer, "My parents adopted me because they love me."

Teach your child to use humor.

Sometimes a quick wit can end an uncomfortable discussion.

    Q:Someone may ask, "Why don't you look like your mom?" or "Why don't you look like your sister/brother?"
    A: Your child may answer with, "Because I'm better looking!"

    Q: Someone may ask, "What does it feel like to be adopted?"
    A: Your child may answer with, "What does it feel like not to be adopted?"

Answer honestly and simply.

No need to add any unasked for information.

    Q: Someone may ask, "Why do you have a new last name?"
    A: Your child may answer with, "Because I was adopted, so my name changed." Then walk away. No need to add into this discussion with information about birth parents not completing the reunification process or a foster care adoption. Or, "My step-dad adopted me, so I changed my name to be the same as my mom and dad's."

    Q: Someone may ask, "Do you miss or think about your birth parents?"
    A: Your child may answer with, "Yes, I do. Please don't ask me about this, I don't want to talk about it right now."

Reason's to Practice Answering Questions

  • Help the children to establish boundaries. Due to past neglect and abuse, especially sexual abuse; some children feel that they are literally "everyone's property". It is important that children learn that their body and life is not available to everyone's use and/or knowledge.
  • Teach the difference between privacy and secrecy. Privacy is about respecting yourself enough to set boundaries, allowing only those who need to know information, into your business. Secrecy is about shame and guilt, things instilled into some children's lives due to past neglect and abuse.
  • Protect the child. We as parents are to protect our children from further abuse and harassment. With too much information floating around, our foster/adoptive children could be setting themselves up for further maltreatment.
  • Sometimes a good cover story may prevent some questions from even being asked.
  • There is a stigma attached to being in foster care or with being adopted. We have to arm our children so that they may deal with any situation with confidence and pride.

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