Your adoption is complete and you have settled nicely into a routine. You are now ready to start adventuring out and bringing family and friends in. As you approach new communities and introduce your child to those you love, it can be hard not to share all the details about how your family became whole. This is new and exciting to you (and them!), but you are wondering how much is too much to share about the story of your child’s life before coming home.
So what is oversharing? In adoption, private and sensitive information regarding the child is provided to adoption professionals and adoptive parents to act as a resource. This information allows these individuals to understand the child and prepare themselves to meet the child’s needs. When you adopt a child, no matter their age, their story began long before you were ever involved. Remember that your child’s story is just that – their story. We want to love, nurture and cherish them, and a big part of that begins with allowing them the privacy to which they are entitled. We want them to hear the details of how they came to our family from you, not from others. Details about their first family and adoption are best coming from you. Your child trusts you and loves you. Sharing this vital information with them directly inside your special relationship is one way to protect them from misinformation that others may provide. It is really up to your child to decide if they want their story told to others. Oversharing is often done with good intentions, but it can lead to others making assumptions, rumors, and gossiping about your child and family.
You ask, “How should I approach these inevitable questions?” It would be unrealistic to expect others not to be curious. Because of this, it is important to educate others on the importance of privacy and the potential risks associated with oversharing. This will allow others to recognize the difference between privacy and secrecy as well as help them become more empathic towards your child’s history. Another way to combat these well-intended individuals is to establish clear boundaries with friends, family, and acquaintances regarding what information is appropriate to share about your adoption journey and your child’s history. This will provide a great opportunity to model how you protect your child and build trust in your relationship with them. The article “Talking to Your Six-to-Eight Year Old About Adoption” by Susan Saidman provides a great practical tip on how to respond to these questions. Saidman’s “T.I.P” (Tell, Ignore, or Keep it Private) can be a great acronym to teach your child and to be used by yourself. Practicing discretion and being selective about the information you share on social media is a large aspect of sharing as well.
Regularly monitor your online presence and privacy settings on social media platforms. Be mindful of the information you share publicly and carefully consider what is necessary and relevant for your immediate family and close circle. Avoid divulging sensitive adoption-related details that may compromise your child's privacy for years to come.
Adoption is a private matter. Even if we want to educate others, let us not do so at the expense of our children’s privacy. By understanding the importance of protecting your child’s story, maintaining boundaries, and practicing discretion, adoptive parents can share their joy while safeguarding their child's privacy. Adopting a mindful and privacy-conscious approach to sharing will help create a safe and secure environment for your child to trust, thrive, and grow.