Reading this post on Adoptive Families Facebook page is the reason I’m talking about this again. Maybe I’ll be able to change some hearts and minds and, maybe no one has explained well enough so it makes sense. What likeminded people in adoption are trying to do is to get you to take the time to see and set a line on what’s okay to share and what’s private (not secret, just private) of your families adoption story, especially your child’s story.
I think it’s perfectly fine to tell family, friends, even coworkers and maybe some strangers that your child is adopted if it comes up. The exception is if your child doesn’t want people to know and it’s possible at some point your child won’t want people to know and that’s a perfectly normal too. And no, I’m not saying it’s okay to introduce your child as your adopted child, just if it is pertinent at that moment to reference their adoption, I think it’s fine.
What shouldn’t be included is the child’s story before you, the why’s they needed to be adopted, any trauma they endured, or the story of their family by birth. That should be private (not secret, just private), just like you likely have private stories in your life you wouldn’t like someone else telling others about (I shuddered just imagining someone blurting out my private stories, not just to strangers, but to people I interact with). Just don’t do it, instead, protect it so your child gets to decide when they are older who gets to know what happened to them, why they needed to be adopted, and most importantly, who doesn’t need to know.
Even details on why an expectant mother chose adoption (domestic infant adoption) doesn’t need to be blasted to the world. Yes, you may think that is part of your story, but it’s really more their story than yours when you sit with it for a while. It’s far better to infer there were challenges she didn’t think would resolve in time or some other vague reference. Let her tell her story if she wants too (and I’d hope she’d be thoughtful on behalf of your child and not tell a story that would hurt your child and destroy their privacy and agency) – it’s definitely something maybe you should talk about together.
I know we seem to have become an oversharing society, it’s rampant on social media and if you’re a natural over-sharer you may have your back up right now. If yes, sit with it for awhile, see how other AP’s overshare their child’s private story, and consider, if that was your story, if you’d be comfortable with it being told by others. Ask yourself if there’s a way to tell your story without oversharing specific details, one that helps but doesn’t impact the other people in your story and preserves their agency too.
I just want to also note that I’m not saying you have to hide your child and never talk about them, you don’t. Share their stories of going to the park, holidays, their accomplishments, the cute, the funny, even sad – the normal things all parents share. Celebrate them, just protect them too.
And final note that some of the commenters on the FB post took it as to not tell the child they were adopted or their story of why they needed adoption. The concern over oversharing is a standalone concern and of course you need to tell your child they are adopted, why they needed adoption, all pertinent details you know as they grow and mature so by the teen years they know most, if not all of their story. Mom and dad added pertinent parts to my story as I grew older and could understand it.