From Tyler: I love talking & writing about my love for adoption! When we started our adoption journey in 2014, the Lord led me to start our blog: theadventuresofbabyk.blogspot.com & Instagram account: @theadventuresofbabyk. Over the past few years, we've added to our family by adoption twice. Along the way, I've shared about the joys, challenges, blessings & sensitivities that come along with adoption. So many people have connected with, been encouraged by & have even been led to adopt after following our story!
I've learned a lot about how to talk about adoption honestly, passionately, appropriately & sensitively. I've researched, read, learned from other bloggers & mommas, heard from adoptees & listened to the Lord's leading on this topic. I'm still learning all the time & by no means do I always get it right, but I do feel like I have a good handle on this topic at this point in our journey. The purpose of this post is share with y'all about the importance of protecting your child's privacy & story when talking about adoption, as well as give you some examples of how to answer those inappropriate adoption comments you're sure to get from people.
Like I said, I really do love shouting my love for adoption from the rooftops! We are so proud & so blessed by how our children became a part of our family. Over the past few years, as I've written & spoken about adoption, I've come to realize it's important to have some boundaries when sharing about such a complex & deeply personal topic.
One important way to establish boundaries is by acknowledging the difference between our stories & our children's stories. Our journey to adopting our children is ours to share about. I love being an open book about what the adoption process was like, how my faith was stretched & deepened, obstacles & challenges we faced & how incredibly beautiful & moving the whole journey was. However, we believe most of the intimate details of our children's story, biological family, background & the circumstances surrounding their adoption are theirs to share -if they choose to- as they get older. Our children did not have control over how their stories started, but they should have control over how the details of their stories are shared!
If you've adopted or fostered, you probably know that our families receive lots of questions! Our families often look different, and people are naturally curious, so this is to be expected. In the beginning, when faced with questions about our children's stories, there were times when I shared more than I would share now. I soon recognized the importance of protecting my child's privacy when it comes to these types of conversations! When answering questions about adoption, our motivation must always always always be our child's best interest, not satisfying other's curiosity. Never feel obligated or pressured to share more than you're comfortable with or more than what you feel is best for your family & your child!
I answer questions about adoption & my children's stories in a variety of ways depending on the boundaries we've established, the specific question, my relationship with the person, the context of the question & the person's tone/attitude. For the most part, people we encounter speak positively about adoption, but too frequently we still hear negative/careless language or comments. When something is said that doesn't sit right with me, I usually pause, take a breath & then respond with emphasis on the correct phrasing. I try to give lots of grace with a dose of education when this happens, because I'm well aware that even with the best intentions, I definitely haven't always gotten it "right" either. Until adoption is an intimate part of your life, you can't truly understand how important it is to speak about all things adoption with respectful language!
When navigating tricky adoption conversations, I always try my best to represent Christ well. Sometimes it's important to defend, correct & educate. Sometimes we must choose to forgive & extend grace. Sometimes it's appropriate to ignore the question, change the subject or just walk away. It's always important to keep our child's best interest in mind!
When responding to a question that's too personal or sensitive, it's perfectly ok, and often even important to say, "We don't share that information." "That's private." "This isn't a topic I am comfortable discussing." Not only does this response guard your family's privacy, but it also teaches your children they have the freedom & right to simply say, "that's private" when they don't want to share details about their stories.
When it comes to my children's birth mothers, I will always defend, correct stereotypes & not allow anything rude to be said, especially in front of my children. When someone asks why our kids' birth moms choose adoption or about the circumstances surrounding their decision, I usually answer with vague, simple responses that set the stage for keeping things positive. "She wasn't in a position to parent, so she made the decision she felt was best. We love her so much & are so grateful for her loving & brave choice." After offering this type of response, I hope the person catches on that we aren't going to share specifics. If they keep pressing for details I say something along the lines of, "We actually don't share any other details about our kids' birth moms out of respect for our kids' privacy. I'm sure you can understand!" I always make it clear that we love our children's birth moms & are deeply thankful for their choice to choose adoption & us! We simply believe the details & more sensitive parts of the story belong to our children.
Adoption language & acceptance have come a long way in recent years. Unfortunately, negative adoption stereotypes & language are still far too common. As parents of children who came to us through adoption, in general I think we have a responsibility to correct poor adoption language, call out stereotypes & educate people on adoption. It can be exhausting to constantly defend our family & educate others, but it's important to help break down stigmas & foster more life-giving adoption conversations for the sake of our children. It's also important to find a balance you're comfortable with when it comes to these types of conversations. Answering personal questions about your family can be awkward at times, but in most cases, it does get easier the more practice you get!
This is definitely a topic people have different opinions on. Obviously there's no one size fits all when it comes to talking about adoption! I'd love to hear about boundaries you've set when it comes to these types of conversations. How do you respond to personal questions about your family's story? Are you more open or do you err on the side of privacy? Do you have trouble extending grace when someone is insensitive? Do you need to correct people in your life who continue to use poor adoption language? Do you feel like you need to re-evaluate your position when it comes to this topic? Comment & let me know your thoughts! :)
“However motherhood comes to you, it’s a miracle.” Valerie Harper