Adoption isn't the secretive process that it was in decades past when many adoptees were the product of underage (and unwed) romances. Now, parents and adopted children may clearly not be biologically related because they don't share the same ethnic background -- which means, unfortunately, some stranger with more inquisitiveness than sense may ask questions or make statements that end up troubling your adopted child. That means that it's smart to teach your child a few things about being adopted as early as possible.
1. Be honest, but limit the information according to your child's age.
Adoptees say that one of the most important things that you can do for your adopted child is help erase any doubts the child may have (even if they aren't expressed openly) about why he or she was adopted. Doubts like, "Why wasn't I good enough for my birth mother?" or "Why wasn't I wanted?" can crop up unexpectedly in response to a nosey neighbor's questions. A child may overhear, "What happened to her 'real' mother?" and start wondering if that means that you're just a temporary figure that will eventually abandon them.
You may not know much about your child's birth parents, so do the best that you can. You can stress the idea that your child's biological mother wanted to give your child the opportunity for a better life than she could provide because that's likely true no matter what the situation. Stress that your child was chosen, that you are now his or her "real" mother (no matter what anyone else says) and that you won't be going away.
2. Teach your child early how to respond to intrusive questions.
You will be able to fend off intrusive questions for your child for a while, but eventually — probably sooner than you'd like — your child will have to field them on his or her own.
Teach your child that he or she has the right to politely decline to answer any intrusive questions. Things like "Where is your real mom?" can be handled by answering with statements like, "My mom is at home right now. I don't know much about my biological mother," but that can open up the door to more questions from people who don't get the hint. It's always acceptable to say, "I consider that private."
3. Give you child more information as he or she gets older.
As your child ages, consider giving him or her more information about the adoption. Things like why you decided to adopt, what the process was like, what little you do know about his or her biological parents. Treat the information like you would any other family story. The more that you treat the situation like it is just a normal part of their existence and yours, the less mystery it will hold and the freer your child will likely feel to ask questions if he or she has any.
For more advice on how to handle questions about interracial adoptions, talk to the adoption agency, such as ABBA Adoption.