Adoptees: Protect Their Stories


It's easy to overshare our kids' lives on social media.I see it on occasion. Without realizing what they’re doing, adoptive families can end up exploiting their precious new child’s story. I think I understand why. There is so much pressure to share details because the watching world is so curious. Plus, we want to be a positive voice for adoption, right?

During our first adoption process, I used to search for videos of parents meeting their kids through adoption all of the time. Their first moments with their kids was fuel for me. We had gone through many years of infertility, and I desperately craved our own “adoption day.” I knew in my heart that what I was watching was deeply personal. I also knew I wouldn’t post moments as personal as those of my own children, although at the time I didn’t really know why. However, I still watched. Waiting was torture, and watching those videos DID give me some hope.
Curiosity drives us so often. Curiosity mixed with a desperately longing heart is the combination I was experiencing.
I am here now, however, to express my opinion that as adoptive parents, we are meant to guard our children’s stories. It is extremely personal. Every adoption originates in a difficult loss, and grieving is involved. Those moments should not be for public consumption. I understand family and friends are curious, and, of course, sharing some things is great. But we violate our kids’ privacy if we blast the entire process on social media without filter.

Resist Oversharing 

Let me give four reasons on why I strongly believe in protecting adoption stories because . . . 
  1. It affects attachment. Blindly sharing their background with others (whether on social media or to a curious grocery store goer) can build future resentment and anger toward us as the parent. Remember, this toddler will grow up and will need to hear what happened when he or she was adopted. The child will be aware of every detail that was shared when it comes to social media, because . . . digital footprints last.
  2. It’s their personal journey, which means it is to be shared in the way they choose to share it. That might mean that we sit on information about them until they’re old enough to understand if they want to share it. It could also mean that we ask their permission about certain parts of their story and who/how we tell about it. In recent times, there has been a push to listen to the voices of adult adoptees to learn about best practices, and this is one invaluable piece of information I’ve learned. It’s one I cannot ever ignore now.
  3. Sometimes the deeper desire behind sharing details can be selfish. Why do we share things with the watching world? I honestly think this applies to a lot of situations, but especially when thinking about the wellbeing of our children who have already experienced loss. Are we looking for glory for ourselves? If the answer to that is even a little bit of a yes, then some soul searching is needed, and I believe we have to put down the laptop.
  4. In adoption stories, we as the parents have had a lot of power over events. The child has probably been somewhat powerless. It seems like good practice to attempt to give him or her some control.
It helps to consider: What would I not want my future 18-year-old child to read or see when he or she gets older? If I believe the young adult wouldn’t want those things shared, then I won’t share those moments. Would you, as an adult adoptee, want to hang out often with parents who constantly received accolades and pats on the back for “taking you in?”

Share the {Adoption} Love

So . . . what am I suggesting we do? We want to be adoption advocates after all!
  1. Share general information about adoption, orphan care, and foster care. Give stats. Share eye-opening data. November is such a great time to do this!
  2. Give specific practical ways that children or new adoptive families in need can be helped, if you so desire. Sometimes we share what we liked or what we would like during adoption-related struggles; there’s definitely a way to do that without revealing that it’s about you (if you get creative)!
  3. Share about organizations that have meant a lot to your family. This way others can see what services they provide and can possibly support them in their efforts.
  4. Share the joys and struggles of parenting, just as any other parent would and does. Try not to make it always about being an adoptive parent though because after the adoption has occurred, your people online already know that your family was created that way. Seeing how you’re just a normal family with a lot of love speaks volumes.
I still believe in finding your safe people to vent to and seek advice from. That is crucial to us as moms no matter what, even more so when adoption and trauma is involved. Finding mentors or someone who gives us a safe space as a friend is vital. We need that! However, consider your audience every single time. You’re entrusting to them your kid’s mental health and future attachment to you. These people we trust — these listening ears — must to have good intentions for our family and hearts of gold!
Curiosity is a powerful thing. It’s tempting to share it all because we are experiencing miracle after miracle! But I know now what I didn’t know before meeting my children: I am the keeper of their stories. I hold it in my hands. We aren’t entertainment for curious onlookers. I do not accept being treated like a savior for choosing to adopt; that attitude is poison for our family. I won’t be telling others anything I wouldn’t tell my kids directly (even if I’m waiting for a developmentally appropriate age to reveal some things). Our bonds as a family are hard earned and way too precious to destroy on a whim.
Side note: I wanted to share my opinion on this as food for thought! I’d never condemn anyone who does things differently, but I DO believe it’s wise to consider the big picture and have awareness of some of these factors. I hope this helps someone to pause and consider sharing through a blog or a private Facebook group instead of to all of social media. Another option is just telling SOME parts of the journey: it’s a great way to positively show adoption to the world, just as long as we have appropriate boundaries.
Adoption has been — for us — miracle, an answered prayer, and a saving grace. I want to be a positive voice out there but without airing it all!
Adoptive Moms Tarrant County Area is a Fort Worth Moms Neighbor Group intended to provide adoptive moms and moms-to-be with a place to find resources and be a welcoming community in which to discuss adoption and related topics.
Amber has been married to her college sweetheart from Texas A&M, Kyle, for 11 years. They encountered the difficulty of infertility, and it became the biggest blessing of their lives when it pushed them to pursue adoption. Both of their kids (Willow and Jonas) were born in China and adopted as toddlers; attachment has been a beautiful and unique story with each of them. Amber used to teach and then followed her passion to help children as a school counselor before becoming a mom. Although Amber stays at home with her children now, one day a week she gets to practice play therapy as a licensed professional counselor at Family Connections Counseling in Colleyville. Faith, family, and friends are especially important to Amber. On a day off, you can find her playing games, laughing, reading, talking, sleeping, watching a movie, or enjoying family time outside.


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