Saturday, January 30, 2016

Adoption: Protecting Your Child's Story

Photo credit: Jessica Phelps Photography
When we brought home our son through his whirlwind adoption with the help of Christian Adoption Consultants, questions abounded. "Is his birth mom young?" (Actually, more people said, "Is his mom young?") "What about his birth dad?" "Why did she choose adoption?" "Does she have any other kids?" "Was she on drugs? Is he healthy?" Honestly, I was a bit taken back by all the curiosity (I mean, these are VERY personal questions. Would you ask a friend of yours if they were using drugs during their pregnancy?!). At first, I didn't give a ton of thought to most of what I shared. I was so thankful to the Lord for bringing our baby to us and I was eager to let others know what God had done. I wanted people to see His hand at work in my son's life and in ours and I still do. I don't want to hide what God's done. But I also want to remember that this isn't just my story to share...ultimately it's Titus's.

I'm not sure what my son will want shared with others about the circumstances surrounding his adoption as he grows. Will he want people to know all about his birth mom? Maybe. But maybe not. It's ultimately his story to tell, not just mine.

Your child's story is just that-it's theirs. It's their story to tell one day if they so choose. It's really impossible to know right now what they will want to share one day. You may be the most open, transparent person in the world and feel comfortable sharing every detail of your life story with anyone and everyone. But this isn't just your story-it's your child's story. Please protect it with the same fierce love that you protect their physical lives with. It's that important.

Hear my heart here, I'm not saying be silent about all that's involved with your child's adoption. I was hesitant to even post this at first because I don't want anyone to misunderstand what I'm saying or to feel judged or condemned. I'm not saying you are wrong to share anything at all about your child's story! This child's life is a miracle! God may lead each family a little differently here about what to share and you need to follow Him, not me. I just want to encourage you to think and pray about this issue more deeply.

There's a lot that can be shared and should be shared but it all needs to be shared carefully. (As a side note, this is especially true in this day and age where social media is so prevalent and so much of life is lived "all out there." It's all too easy to share more than what's necessary or helpful.) And remember, it's much easier to share more as time goes on than to take back something you've shared.

Before you share ask yourself a couple of questions:

*  Is this something my child may one day wish I hadn't shared?

* Does this respect the privacy of my child's birth parents?

* How can I answer in a way that honors my child and their story?

* If my child is old enough to understand, have I asked them if it's ok for me to share this with others?

* Have I prayed about this and asked God for wisdom about this?

There is no set of rules for what should be shared and what shouldn't. Remember, this not about being secretive-it's about protecting your child's story.

Here are some things that I recommend you don't share broadly and possibly don't share at all:

* Why your child's birth mom placed him or her for adoption

* The circumstances surrounding your child's birth mom's pregnancy

* The health of your child's birth mom

* Any drug, alcohol use, or mental illness in your child's birth family

* Your child's toxicology report from birth

* Your child's birth parents' relationship with one another

* Pictures of your child's birth parents' faces (absolutely do not share any of their faces without their permission)

If you are preparing to adopt, I hope these questions will help you think about this more deeply than I did before Titus was born. And if you've already brought your child home, I'm not writing to cast judgment on you if you've shared more than I recommend. Honestly, I wish I could go back in time and erase some of what I shared initially about Titus' story! But I trust that God will use that for His glory and I just didn't know then that it's his story to tell and not mine.

Today if someone asks me a question about my son's story that I'm simply not sure I should share, I don't. Instead, I say, "That's Titus' story so I want to respect his privacy by not sharing those details. Thanks for understanding." Maybe someone will feel like I'm being rude when I say that but that's ok. I'd rather someone feel offended or hurt if I don't share with them than have my son one day feel like I've hurt or betrayed him by sharing his story without his permission.

Protect your child's story. You won't regret it.
Please contact me at for more info about adoption and CAC. I'd love to help you in your adoption journey!

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