Book Review: Telling the Truth to Your Adopted or Foster Child by Betsy Keefer Smalley and Jayne E. Schooler

Telling the Truth to Your Adopted or Foster Child is one of our favorite books to recommend to adoptive parents, foster parents, caretakers and mental health professionals looking to expand their knowledge of adoption. Authors Betsy Keefer Smalley and Jayne E. Schooler created this resource in order to shed light on the importance of adoptees knowing their story and removing any stigma of shame or secrecy around adoption. The book serves as an excellent guide for helping children hear, understand and accept the often traumatic and painful truths of their beginning.

Smalley and Schooler recommend an honest and truthful approach when talking to children about their adoption story. They recommend giving kids information that is developmentally appropriate for their age so that they are able to fully comprehend what it means. They provide specific language, activities and conversation starters that are very helpful in supporting parents through what can be a very intense and emotional topic. The book also provides resources specific to transracial, transcultural, kinship and foster care adoptions.

One of the biggest take aways from the book is what Keefer and Schooler refer to as the Ten Commandments of Telling The Truth To your Adopted Child:

  1. Initiate conversation about adoption.
  2. Do not ever lie.
  3. Tell information in a developmentally appropriate way.
  4. Use positive adoption language.
  5. Remember the child knows more than you think.
  6. Allow the child to be angry without joining in.
  7. Share all information by the time the child is 12 (developmentally).
  8. If information is negative, you can consider using a third party to help.
  9. Don’t impose value judgments.
  10. The child should be in control of his story outside the family.

When adopted children are told the truth about their stories  in appropriate, positive ways then they are able to integrate the information and develop a healthy identity. Overall, Telling the Truth to your Adopted or Foster Child is an excellent resource to have on hand. To purchase the book  click here!

Written by Kelly DiBenedetto, LMHC, ATR
Boston Post Adoption Resources

About Kelly DiBenedetto, LMHC, ATR

Kelly DiBenedetto, LMHC, ATR is Clinical Director at Boston Post Adoption Resources. To read her bio, please visit BPAR's Team page.