Thursday, January 12, 2017
Dear Sugar: Your Child's Story Isn't Yours to Showcase
Recently a reader of mine submitted a new burning adoption question regarding privacy. Why do I keep my children's names, faces, and stories private?
In a time when ever'body knows ever'body else's business and divulging increases the popularity of bloggers, why do I stay in the shadows? What am I so afraid of? What am I hiding?
I was going to save my response for a new YouTube video on privacy, but when this story came across my newsfeed yesterday, I simply knew I had to tell you NOW why I do what I do, or should I say, don't do.
Here's the video:
As a mom of four kids, all of whom have open adoptions with their birth families, I feel like we've had reunions on a much smaller (but no less meaningful) scale: every visit is sacred and special. Every laugh. Every question. Every matching smile (because WOW is the "nature" evident and so beautiful!).
Never. Ever. Ever would it be ok with exploiting or broadcasting these moments.
Yet I see it all the time. The mom posting a pic of her transracial adoptee on IG with the hashtag #HIVCantStopHer. The hopeful adoptive parent posting a picture of the baby she's matched with...the baby IN UTERO, like yes, in the expectant mother's uterus. These are just two appalling examples. And referring to the expectant mom as "our birth mother." Referring to the baby (the one in utero) as "our baby girl" or "our baby boy."
Though I do share things that happen to our family, such as when my toddler was called a thug by an acquaintance, or when I was referred to, yet again, as my kids' "adoptive" mom, I do not share my children's names, faces, or personal adoption stories. I don't share the names and faces of their birth families.
Because it's not for public consumption.
Because it's not your business.
Because it's not my story to tell.
Because privacy matters. Privacy translates to respect. Respect is a way of loving.
Because I don't trust strangers with intimate things.
Because anything online can never be erased.
Because I want to live a life with as few regrets as possible.
Because I take my job as a mother very seriously.
Because I believe in respecting my children's biological families and their stories.
Because I was chosen to parent my children, and this honor shouldn't be squandered.
Because I know many adoptees and birth families: and listening to them tells me it's better to err on the side of caution and privacy.
Because no amount (fleeting) praise is worth compromising my relationship with my children. (And I did not adopt to be praised.)
Because I didn't save my children.
Because I am the lucky one.
I have been asked many times to submit photos of my kids' faces, share their names, or allow them to speak on camera or radio. And my answer is always no. No, I cannot answer that question. No, I will not share why my children were placed for adoption. No, you can't have a photo of my children. No, they won't be speaking on camera.
Not because their voices do not matter...
but because their voices matter the MOST.
We are not ashamed of the fact that our family was built by adoption. But we hold some things sacred---because otherwise, they are thrown like confetti to the masses. Obliterating their holiness.
Today, I want to encourage you to think about the potential long-term implications of your immediate choices. Things like who you share your child's story with. Things like the language you use to explain adoption. Things like the questions you choose to answer. Things like privacy. The pictures and videos you share. The things you agree to.
Sugars, you, as your child's parent, have so much power and influence and responsibility. Adoption and parenting adoptees is NOT about warm fuzzies, fame, personal satisfaction.
It's about raising happy, confident, empowered children. It's about listening to them. Empathizing. Learning and applying. Teaching and guiding. Leading by example. And that starts on the foundation of trust.
Trust is everything.