To Share or Not to Share?
As the new school year approaches I, like many adoptive parents, ask myself the question “Do I talk about adoption to my child’s new teacher?” With each of my older children the answer each year has been “yes”. This year I am a bit more hesitant. Unlike our first 3 adoptions where we enjoy completely open adoptions, our youngest child’s adoption is different. We have met with his birth mother a few times but once she left her residence, without forwarding information, we have been unable to contact her. We don’t know everything about her situation but we do know she lives homeless. So our youngest child’s experience with his birth mother was very limited and now nonexistent. While Spencer has a good understanding of how he got to our family I am not sure if he is ready to field questions that may come. I am still pondering how to handle his story this year.
My older children have had many experiences at school regarding their adoption story. Some friends seem to understand the concept while most do not. When my daughter was in 4th grade she had a classmate make fun of her, saying things like: “No wonder your parents abandoned you!” While Haley knew this wasn’t a true statement it really hurt her feelings. Thankfully she had a teacher who was the daughter of a birth mother who stepped in and stopped the bullying behavior. The school called me and let me know what had been going on that day. I asked if I could make a brief adoption presentation in her class. The teacher and principal agreed it would be a great educational opportunity. So the next week we went in and Haley got to share her story and show the clip of her and her birth mother being interviewed on KSL’s -Studio 5. We shared proper terminology and talked about all the different types of adoption. It turned out to be a really positive experience for Haley and her whole class. She found out she wasn’t the only one who came to her family through adoption. A few friends shared with her privately later in the day they had been adopted as well. The boy whose words have been so hurtful ended up apologizing and they were able to move past this event.
Sharing or not sharing your child’s adoption story is a personal decision. Each child is different and each story is different. I lean heavily in favor of sharing, at least for our family. In the end it is the best interest of my child which dictates the answer. Good luck as you and your child begin a new school year. One thing I have learned over the last 15 years….educating others about adoption is more powerful than becoming angry with others when ignorant statements are made. Knowledge changes how a person views adoption and helps the person begin to develop a love or appreciation for this special topic.
Sharing our stories from the heart helps plant the seed.
Brenda Horrocks is a mother of four children through adoption.
She promotes adoption, foster care and Utah’s Safe Haven Law through blogging, public speaking and writing. She enjoys time with family, reading books, running, gardening and movies.
You can visit her blog here.