Top 10 tips for adopters by the adopted

Through a series of participation groups young adopted people – The Adoptables – have been exchanging their views and experiences in order to help future adopters and professionals dealing with adopted children and young adults. During initial workshops, the adoptables devised a list of top 10 tips they wanted to pass on to adopters to help them make a positive difference to adoptive family life.

1. Treat all children in the household equally

  • Younger child may feel an older child gets more freedom (explain rationale behind decisions)
  • Different treatment for different personalities (equally, not the same)
  • Gender differences
  • The eldest feeling pressured to always having to set the example
  • Adopted parents birth children treated better than adopted children

adopted girl with teddy2. Always listen to us and our views

  • We may not always be sure when and if we can speak about adoption
  • Give us more opportunities to voice our opinions/concerns/worries
  • Try to see it from the child’s perspective

3. Prepare us and find ways to tell us that we are adopted

  • Make sure that the child and parent are on the same page
  • Tell us when we’re younger and elaborate as we grow up with age appropriate information
  • No big surprises!

4. Be prepared for our reaction to big news related to us, our birth parents and/or our adoption

  • Expect us to be angry/sad/confused when we hear certain news about our birth family, but this does not mean that we don’t want to hear it. E.g. birth parent having another child
  • Have tissues!
  • We will worry about our medical history if you keep it from us

5. Don’t expect us to grow up perfect

  • Nobody is perfect
  • Accept that we may just get angry sometimes and it has nothing to do with us being adopted
  • Look after us as we are – do not try to mould us into someone we’re not
  • Expect challenging behaviour
  • Give us space

adopted boy with teddy6. Do not compare us to our friends or your friends’ children

  • Comparing us to other children causes stress and can lead to issues and problems with family
  • It doesn’t acknowledge our background and can make us feel like we’re not good enough
  • Being compared to someone/something makes us feel like we’re not understood
  • It’s not just parents – peers and teachers too

7. Understand that separation and death can be a trigger for us

  • When a birth family member dies it affects the child more than you think and if not handled correctly can have a lasting impact
  • If you are separated from loved ones and they die you can feel very guilty that you didn’t spend time with them – there can be ways of marking it; photos, memories e.g. – Growing a conker tree
  • Writing their name somewhere as permanent as possible
  • Reading the books and watching films you may have watched together

8. Love us no matter what

  • If we fall out with you make sure you still show us that you love us
  • We might worry that we will go back into care
  • Telling us that you care but more so show us you care
  • Communicate!
  • Be there when we need you
  • Help us to find a safe place/person to turn to (Have a good network)

9. Be open and understanding about birth parents and be as positive as possible

  • When we get letterbox contact it can be awkward and hard for everyone
  • Understand that we will be curious, not everyone, but some of us are
  • It is better to be supportive rather than us looking on social media by ourselves
  • Be creative, find another way to possibly satisfy the need, but don’t push us away
  • Sharing information and knowledge about birth parents is important because people need to remember who we actually are and – like it or not they will always be part of us
  • Be aware that we will tune into your feelings about our birth parents

boys toys10. Be there throughout our whole life and never leave

  • Try and work on issues rather than give up
  • Do things to keep the connection
  • Explain things to us as much as possible
  • Be aware that if you do have to leave show you’re coming back; give reassurance and acknowledgment. Adopted child may still have major abandonment issues (example of dad going on away on business trips and not sure if he would come back)
  • Be aware that support can be found within the extended family
  • Be aware that no matter the age we may need a higher amount of reassurance than the average child

Adoptables logo200x200

Who are the Adoptables?

The Adoptables is a new initiative that gives adopted young people a platform to enable them to express their views and talk about their experiences as adopted children in the home, in school and their experiences of post-adoption support. It is run by Coram and funded by The Queen’s Trust.

Get involved

If you are an adopted young person, and would like to be involved with the Adoptables project please contact 

You can also follow the Adoptables activities on InstagramTwitter (#Adoptables) and Facebook.