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Ask Rene: I’m Scared To Tell My Kids They’re Adopted

Interracial mother and daughters playing in their yard

Ask Rene:
I’m Scared To Tell My Kids They’re Adopted



Hi Rene:

I’ve been following you for some time now and,  for the most part, agree with the advice you give. Now I’m coming to you with a situation of my own.

Early in our marriage, my husband and I added to our family by adopting two siblings who were in an abusive situation. They were babies when they came to our family so they’ve never known anything but the love we have provided.

We never told them they were adopted. I was worried about how they would take it, about what their classmates would say, and (a little bit) about what our neighbors would say.

Now, eleven years later, my husband and I are separated and he is threatening to tell the kids they are adopted.

Rene, I’m really not sure what to do. I’ve asked my husband not to say anything to the kids because our family situation is hard enough as it is but he says unless we get back together, he’s going to spill the beans.

Helpless in Hawaii

Dear Helpless,

Well, first of all, no situation is helpless but the question is whether you are ready to do anything about this and if so, what? This is not the first letter I have received like this so it leads me to believe that perhaps this is not as uncommon as I thought it was.  But here’s what I’m thinking and what I would do if I were in your shoes.

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Creative Commons/Alan Cleaver

Creative Commons/Alan Cleaver

Really? This is disgusting. You and your husband are dealing with big people problems and yet it’s the littlest ones who are going to be collateral damage. It’s time for you both to grow up. The threats from your husband are ridiculous and he should not be using the kids as a way to get back at you, which is exactly what he is doing.

That has to stop.

Read more:  Life Lessons: Andrea Denney


Ask Rene: I'm Scared To Tell My Kids They're Adopted

Creative Commons/m e g • m a c

My husband was adopted when he was just six days old. His opinion is that telling your children they are adopted will reinforce the depth of your love.  Buff was told he was adopted  when he was five-years-old and instead of feeling rejected, felt special and loved. When his parents asked if he had any questions, he said, “Yes. Can I go back out and play?”

The ages of your kids might dictate when you decide to tell them (if you go that route) but it does seem like waiting longer might only make the situation more difficult.

Read more:  Single Mom Slice Of Life: Dinner With A Side Of… Conversation?


sanil photography myfocuz

Creative Commons/sanil photography/

Did you really say you were worried about what the neighbors would think? REALLY? I mean who cares? And who are you parenting for? Might be time for a little soul searching on your part so you can figure out why you care so much about the opinions of a bunch of strangers over the feelings of your own children.

Now you don’t have to do anything, but it does seem as though this is bothering you a bit. Maybe you understand that in an era of full disclosure, this feels a bit unfair. Or maybe you’re worried about not having a good answer when your kids ask, “Why didn’t you tell us?”

If you choose not to tell (and it is your choice) you will live in fear they will find out. Better hear it from you than someone else and definitely better they hear it in a rational moment than from someone is trying to hold something over their mother.

Read more:  Ask The Good Enough Guy: How Do We Make It Last?


There is one more concern I have and it was one backed up by my husband. In this day and age of medical marvels and miracles, what will you do if either of your children has a serious illness? Can you imagine being a child (or adult), trying to deal with that and finding out your’re adopted?

Ella is fond of saying an ugly truth is better than a beautiful lie. There is nothing ugly about being adopted, but given your actions (and those of your estranged husband), I’m not sure your kids will believe that.

Good luck, Mom!

Do you have a question for Rene? She has an answer. Click here and fire away. And don’t forget to follow the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

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Combing the aisles at Target in search of the best deal on Cheerios, it hit Rene Syler like the stench of a dirty diaper on a hot summer’s day. Not only is perfection overrated its utterly impossible! Suddenly empowered, she figuratively donned her cape, scooped up another taco kit for dinner and Good Enough Mother was born.

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