How And When To Share Your Child's Adoption Story?
This is a question I get often as a consultant. How much should we share about our child's story? Who do we share it with? How can we share the miracle of their story without sharing too much? Where do I draw the line?
These are all amazing questions and the fact that you are still reading this and you are thinking those are great questions means that you care about your child. You want to respect them. Maybe you just haven't thought about it deeply yet.
So really this is more about getting you to think about it and dwell on it for a while.
Let's think about some options for a minute. Share your child is adopted is fine, but remember as your children grow older they may not always want to be pointed out as the adopted child even when it is obvious.
My personal answer - it is pretty obvious for our family personally that our children are adopted - except our youngest son because he honestly looks like Jason especially. So we have found we don't have to say anything, but questions just come. Our children know our goal is not to share their personal life history with passersby, but to share about adoption in general. Typically the most we share in general with people in public- is yes we have 9 children 6 of our children came to use through the foster care system, our son came to use through international adoption- Ethiopia, and our youngest two children came to us through domestic adoption (and because we love what we do we share about Christian Adoption Consultants of course as well).
What about certain things about your child- they may have been a child born from a rape, or have alcohol or drug exposure, maybe they have a mental health history. Maybe thier birth mother had it all together or maybe they were in a really tough spot in life. The list is long of all the different situations that children are born into, but an important part is - they need to be given many years to realize their story and how they want to cope and deal with it. They need to process their history in their own way.
Here are some factors to remember when speaking about adoption in front of your child:
1- Is your child open to sharing this information? Have you spoken to them about it?
Talk about your children's adoption stories more with them than you do with others. Have an open, age-appropriate dialogue as they grow up. I've heard people say it is up to their child to decide how much to share when asked about their adoption in public. This is perfect - it honors the child and the process.
2- What are you comfortable with? I'm an open door when it comes to adoption. I love sharing about it almost every chance I get, but I'm an extrovert! Many people are not, and that is ok. You are not bound to share any of your adoption story with anyone. It's the conversations with your children that matter most. Sometimes sharing the details of your adoption can feel like opening up your checkbook for the world to see. Don't be forced to do that by other's curiosity. It's ok to not answer questions.
3- What is appropriate in this situation? Not all people are looking for a long story. Most just want to know how you adopted (foster care, domestic, or international), how long the process took, or were your children born in the U.S. or in another country. Sometimes it is strictly because they have their own adoption story.
When it is a very close friend or family member again it is up to you on how much you share, but keep in mind if you share your child's entire story with anyone before your own child knows their entire story- how do you think that will make them feel? If it is grandparents or that extremely special family friend who would be the guardians of your child maybe it is ok for you, but again then they become "guardians" of your child's story as well. Make sure they know this, and that they do not ever share with anyone else or even the child unless you have shared things with them first.
This way the child always hears all the truth coming from you as their parents. It is important they know they can come to you for truth!