This article was seen first on The Giggles Family
Talking about adoption is a strange thing. From the old days of keeping it a secret or pretending it hadn't happened, to today's pretty open documentaries such as "Find Me A family" and "Finding Mum And Dad " - times have been changing. Throughout our adoption, it felt like professionals and the public weren't sure whether it was ok to talk about it publicly either. Generally sitting on either side of the fence, or jumping back and forth.
There are good reasons for taking care when mentioning the facts of adoption outside the family. The vast majority of children needing adoption have come from abusive beginnings. There is a duty to protect them. They may have unsafe birth family and friends searching for them. Of course you would want to protect them in any way you can.
But for some families, the "risk" from birth family is low or non existent, and so they have the decision to make about whether to talk about adoption.
I should point out that it is well agreed in adoption research now, that adoptees should be told of their adoption from the start and the full reasons, when they are ready. Also that their life story ie the reason they needed adoption, is their's to share if they wish. I am not questioning that at all. We have been talking to our son about his birth family from the start. I will never talk outside our family about his birth family or why adoption was the only option. What I am questioning is that some would advise we don't tell anyone else about the sheer fact of adoption. That we "pretend", we "change the subject", that its "no ones business".
I tried this. Tried to go with some professionals view. Wondering all along if it was really best for my son.
First of all, have you tried to explain to your neighbours, work colleagues etc that you didn't have a son last week but do this week? Not easy to skirt around. Not comfortable either.
Second, how do you think you would feel if your mum was asked a friendly, well meaning question about say your birth, but she looked uncomfortable and didn't talk about how she became your mother with pride?
When your child starts school and they decide to tell their class mate they have a tummy mummy, how well educated on adoption will those class mates be? Or the other parents If we can't talk about adoption?
I've had a change of heart this year. My son is just starting to learn to talk, his understanding of what we say is increasing. In the next few years he will be able to say his birth family's names, he will understand he was in another woman's tummy and why he couldn't stay with her. He will start talking too, as kids do, telling others what he knows. I don't want them to react with shock, look uncomfortable or press him for more information than he wants to give. I want him to be met with understanding and acceptance. For him to talk with confidence because that has been modelled to him.
Over 5000 adoptions from care took place in 2014 in the uk (Source ). In 2008, 135,813 children were adopted in the US (Source). It's common. There was a time when many things weren't discussed openly. Divorce, same sex parenting, but now the next generation know about and accept it in there peers lives. If we don't talk about it, can that ever really happen with adoption too? Can one teenager say their mum and dad live in different houses and the other say they have a birth mum with the same acceptance in the room? The acceptance that its normal for some families? Because it is. Just look at how many families there are born from adoption. It's common.
But I've decide to think for myself. I've decided as a mother I want to change the world my son is growing up in. Wow big task hey? But if no one tries, what happens? Nothing. Or worse it gets worse. I want to talk about adoption sometimes. Not hide it like some people say. Not wait until my son feels its through shame. Not avoid it so when he mentions it at school, his friends and their parents don't get it.
I guess it can be a risk. We don't know how our children will feel in the future. We can't. As people with different backgrounds, different futures, we can't guess for sure, just as no parent can with their child. We can only do our best to protect them, and help them to grow up as a balanced adult. To make the world the best we can around them.
I hope that he understands our decision, when that mother asks about my pregnancy, to proudly say I adopted. That he feels from my confidence, the confidence to be himself. To talk about anything in his life with pride at who he is, including adoption.