Adoption is a big deal. It’s something that forever impacts the lives of birth parents, adoptive parents and adoptees — and when you’re in the thick of the adoption process, either as a waiting adoptive parent or prospective birth mother, it can feel all-consuming.
It’s only natural, then, to want to talk about your adoption journey with anyone and everyone who will listen. But before divulging all of the details of your adoption process, it’s important to remember that this story doesn’t belong only to you. It’s one that is shared by all members of the adoption triad: birth parents, adoptive parents and, most importantly, the adoptee.
So, when you’re talking about adoption, how much information is too much? Where is the line between oversharing in adoption and expressing your adoption pride? When in doubt, here are five adoption details you should always keep private.
1. The adoptive/birth family’s path to adoption.
As potential birth and adoptive parents build their relationship, they often exchange intimate details about their histories and their reasons for choosing adoption. A prospective birth mother might confide in potential adoptive parents about the financial struggles she is facing or her complicated relationship with her baby’s father. Likewise, adoptive parents might share private details about past failed pregnancies or infertility treatments.
These personal details are just that — personal. It’s never okay to tell someone else’s personal story with friends or family members outside of the adoption triad. While curious friends and family members might want to know the backstory of your child’s birth or adoptive parents, kindly let them know that that isn’t your information to share.
2. The birth/adoptive family’s identifying information.
It should go without saying that you probably shouldn’t be handing out contact information for your child’s birth parents or adoptive family. But, especially in the age of social media, you also need to be careful about sharing names, posting pictures and sharing other seemingly innocuous adoption details online.
Before posting any potentially sensitive or identifying information online, consider working with an adoption specialist to create a social media plan. Establish boundaries with your child’s adoptive/birth parents about what details should and should not be shared with your social networks.
3. Frustration with your child’s adoptive/birth family.
An open adoption, like any relationship, is going to have its ups and downs. There may even be times when you find yourself feeling frustrated with the other party in your open adoption. Maybe you don’t agree with certain parenting decisions made by the adoptive parents, or maybe you’re upset that your child’s birth mother doesn’t reach out more.
Whatever the circumstances, it’s usually not a good idea to vent about your frustrations to friends and family members (much less blast the other party on your social media pages). Your words could damage the birth or adoptive parents’ reputation, harm your child’s perspective of his or her birth/adoptive family and, if it ever somehow got back to the other party, cause serious damage to your relationship.
Instead, try calmly addressing any concerns you have directly with the other party, or reach out to your adoption specialist for the contact mediation you need.
4. Anything your child doesn’t already know.
Ultimately, your child’s adoption story belongs to him or her and no one else.
Of course, the way you talk with your child about adoption will change as he or she grows, and there may be certain adoption details you don’t share with them until they are older. Until your child has all of the information about his or her adoption, though, a good rule of thumb is to not share those details with others. How will your child feel if they find out that aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors or even your coworkers know more about their personal history than they do? Respect your child’s right to privacy, and let them own their adoption story.
5. Anything you don’t feel comfortable sharing.
Finally, remember that you don’t owe anyone any details about your adoption journey. Even if others ask nosy or insensitive questions, it’s always your choice when (and if) to share information about your adoption story. Except for a few essential medical and adoption professionals, the only people who need to know anything about your adoption are the ones who played a part in it: you, your child, and his or her birth/adoptive parents.
What other adoption details do you think should be kept private? Let us know in the comments.