Once an adoptive family has accepted an adoption opportunity with a potential birth mother, they often have many questions: What should we say to her? What should we say about ourselves? How can we build a respectful and trusting relationship? Along the same lines, as a family gets to know the potential birth mother and learn more about her, it’s also important to ask:
What is appropriate information to share with others about our child’s birth mother?
Once an adoptive family has accepted an adoption opportunity with a potential birth mother, they will receive social and medical information about the birth mother and her family members. The family may also receive social and medical information about the birth father and his family. The birth parents share personal information in an effort to provide details about their lives for the adoptive family and child. Birth parents likely consider much of this information to be personal, so it is important that the adoptive family use discretion when talking with other people about the birth parents.
Examples of sensitive information that should not be shared with others include the medical history of the birth parents and their family members, any use of medications or drugs during pregnancy or any criminal history.
When family or friends ask about the birth mother, the family should only share the non-sensitive information that she would want shared with others. Appropriate information to share would include details about her hometown, personality traits, hobbies, family members, the type of adoption she wants and other characteristics that make her unique.
One of the most important reasons an adoptive family should keep personal information private is to protect the child. For example, if a relative or family member knows that the child’s birth mother used drugs during the pregnancy, that relative may develop preconceived notions that any of the child’s behaviors or difficulties are directly related to the substance usage during the pregnancy, even if these particular behaviors are normal and seen in children who are not exposed to substance usage.
Other unfortunate situations could arise if personal information is shared with family members or friends. A family member or friend might leak information to your child someday without your knowledge. For example, a family member may accidentally or purposely disclose the information to the child before the family is ready to share this information with them. It is important for families to remember that the more people who know about something sensitive in the birth mother’s situation, the more chances there are of that information becoming an issue unnecessarily.
If you have any questions or concerns about information you have about your child’s birth family and what you should share with others, speak with your Adoption Specialist.