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When is a good time to share photos with my child?

QUESTION:
My daughter is 12 and my husband and I adopted her at birth. She hasn’t asked us for photos of her birth mom but we have several. We talk about adoption openly in our family and we’re wondering when is the “right” time to share these pictures with her?

RESPONSE:
I appreciate your question, it’s one I get a lot. It sounds like you have on-going conversations with your daughter about adoption so there is already a context established for you to now say something like, “Honey, we have some pictures of your birth mom ‘Anna.’ We’ll bring them out when you are ready to see them.” (It’s important to use names – thereby affirming that Anna is a real and very important person to your family.) It’s also a good idea after you mention the photos, to let your daughter decide when she’d like to look at the pictures. Some children want to see them right away, and others may choose to wait.

Visuals like pictures are one way children process and connect the dots of their story. A child of 12 is likely in the throws of identity formation…beginning to know “who” they are and wondering who they might resemble. Seeing a photo of someone who may mirror your daughter’s likeness, her birth mom, may be quite comforting to her.

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