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Sharing Your Child’s Story

06 Mar

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.

 

 

 
6 Comments

Posted by on March 6, 2020 in Adoption, adoptive parents

 

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6 responses to “Sharing Your Child’s Story

  1. cb

    March 6, 2020 at 9:32 pm

    “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.”

    I think that when the child reaches an age where the child understands what is going on, I think that the parents could perhaps sit the child down and say something like “it is possible while we are out that people might ask questions about you being adopted but I want you to take the lead. If anyone asks me, I will look at you and you can give me a nod or not”.

    IDK, I just don’t know that I would have wanted my parents just answering without my permission because any answers will still be likely to be from my parents perspective.

    I am not ashamed of being adopted but I am not sure that that has to automatically mean that I have to be “proud” of it. Also I want to control MY own story and having others share that I was adopted in front of me means that I have to share when I might not feel like doing so (although I personally would just probably say “I don’t feel like talking about it right now”).

    She says *Levon is often in earshot of these conversations, and it’s important for me to give answers that leave him feeling confident and proud of our family structure. What message would it send to him if I was anything less than open about his adoption? I would never pretend that my stepsons don’t have another mother, so why would I pretend that Levon doesn’t have a birth mother? His adoption is not a shameful secret that we hide or something that we “reveal” to others. It’s simply the explanation of how he joined our family.”

    To HER it is simply an explanation of how he joined their family but the adoptee will often process it on a more complex level. I just don’t think parents should even share in front of their child that they are adopted without the adoptee’s express permission because I think it takes control out of the child’s hand and as I said above, if the parents are answering, it is from their perspective.

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  2. Nara

    March 8, 2020 at 5:38 pm

    It’s interesting to me when people talk about possibly not saying their child was adopted. Because I’m transracially adopted – I’m a different race from my parents. If I’m with one of them, people assume the other is a POC. If I’m with both, they assume I’m adopted… or my partner is their son and I’m the girlfriend. And if I’m with my dad… they assume I’m his girlfriend. (Puke.)

    I do think adoptive parents seem too keen to share. Usually as part of a saviour complex. What can you do? Usually they won’t be told. And as someone who went through infertility, I can totally relate to that feeling of wanting to be “normal” and share stuff about your kid… I would say as you did that they should be able to share just like “normal” parents do, but limit that to stuff about their kids that isn’t about them being adopted.

    I honestly don’t think you owe people an explanation. I don’t think you have to go around saying your kid is adopted even if they’re a different colour to you. Casual bystanders don’t need to know – let them wonder. If your kid wants them to know then let them tell them (but also educate your kid on how sharing can’t be taken back).

    My parents were the other way. Never mentioned it. Would discuss it with us if we asked, in a factual way. So really never felt too bad about it other than other people’s racist reactions. My mother would make a point to say “my daughter” all the time and not give any explanation. And you don’t mess with my mum.

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    • TAO

      March 8, 2020 at 5:45 pm

      Thanks Nara. Everyone in town and surrounding area knew we were all adopted, not from them telling, rather the dynamics of the era, small town, doctor to many. Plus we didn’t look like the other, closest was mom and a sibling who shared the same hair color – but overall – they couldn’t have produce us naturally.

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      • Nara

        March 8, 2020 at 5:50 pm

        See my partner is a white adoptee of white APs and doesn’t look like his adopted sibling or parents… but nobody really thought anything of it. He still has friends who don’t know.

        Liked by 2 people

         
    • beth62

      March 12, 2020 at 2:04 pm

      A few years ago a friend (also adopted) and I worked to develop short, direct and sweet answers to the questions that will be asked. We came up with a couple of suitable answers for our different kids. We tried to find another universal answer, other than, “That’s none of your business.” (Yes, you can, and it works.)

      It gets so aggravating sometimes. The more any differences can be plainly seen, the more the questions and comments appear. I don’t believe you have to explain anything to anyone either. I think you can be just as rude as the question if you wish. I’ve been very rightly rude, especially when asked how long we’ve been together, assuming we are a mixed race couple. Even tho it’s possible to be seen by me as a compliment on looking good for my age, I don’t care how my adult kids answer that one. Of course, “She’s my mom you dumb b”, is My absolute favorite.

      My friend was trying to come up with something other than – none of your business. I think since he’s adopted too, maybe he can get away with this horrible and funny one. It left em thinking in all sorts of directions! I am of the belief that adopted people tend to come up with some of the best kind of clever-funny-horrible.
      This is what he answered the billionth nosey question about his kid with last weekend. His kid confirmed the tale.

      “He was with the squirrels when we first found him, and then he followed us home. The squirrels were good with it, and some were good with potatoes and gravy.”

      It did serve the purpose, I wouldn’t suggest using it! Even if you first met in the park after picking up a bucket of KFC with potatoes and gravy.
      Obviously, he’s a super fun Dad 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

       

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