Fall is here. The leaves are changing and falling. It's a time of planting. For some, after placing a child for adoption, it is a time of planting secrets. Over time, the issue of keeping secrets regarding placing children for adoption has been coming to the surface.
Fears of family reactions, the possibility of being talked out of your plans to place your child, fear of judgment from others, fears of what your other children will think, and even fears of being disowned because of your pregnancy or adoption plan , are just a few of the reasons some birth parents choose to keep the adoption story a secret for some period of time.
Every birth parent makes a decision whether to talk about their adoption story openly, to only tell one or a small number of people, or to never tell a soul. That decision is yours to make. Sometimes birth parents tell their future spouses and their children.
There will be opportunities in everyday life to talk about your story. Sometimes a conversation with someone else will spark feelings you thought you'd done a good job of burying. Sometimes a news story or another member of your family considering adopting or making an adoption plan for their own child will push you one step closer to being ready to talk.
You may not be initially comfortable with this conversation. The first step may be to share your experiences with someone who is supportive and non-judgmental. This will help you to gain confidence. We live in a world where more information is available and more things are coming to the light. Having less secrecy now means having less to explain later in life.
You may have fears that your other children will be mad or think badly of you. At the end of the day many children are curious about the story and especially about their half-siblings. The earlier this conversation takes places with children, the more "normal" it is in their eyes.
As you live your life you'll decide when and where you will bring your story up/respond to questions about your story. Think about who is asking, where you are, is it appropriate, possible reactions, etc. If you feel comfortable talking, it may become a teachable moment. On the flip side, you may feel like darting in the other direction when this question comes up. Answering the question may help someone else and may make you more and more confident in yourself and your decisions. You'll probably be surprised at the number of people who are connected to adoption in some way.
It all starts with one conversation.
If you are one of the many birth parents who has decided to keep your story a secret we'd like this to be a safe space for you to talk about it in any form, a poem, a comment, a letter to your child(ren), Anything! If you are a birth parent who has made the choice to tell people about your story feel free to comment too! You may encourage someone to be one step closer to sharing.
Roles, Patricia. (1989). Saying Goodbye to a Baby Volume 1-The Birthparent's Guide to Loss and Grief in Adoption. Washington, DC: Child Welfare League of America.