Why Don’t We Talk Publicly About Our Son’s Birth Family? (And Other Questions Answered!)

Today is the 18th day of National Adoption Month!
See the rest of the Adoption Month posts here.

All this week I answered questions about the private domestic infant adoption process and our experience.  Several of you have sent in questions you wanted answered (thank you!) so I’m answering them today!

One reader asked via Facebook about our adoption agency’s requirement of a letter from our church pastor.
The agency that we went through, Bethany Christian Services, is a Christian organization.  When you begin the adoption process, you sign a statement of faith (just agreeing with pretty basic essentials of Christianity) and they expect you to be a regular attender and active member of a church.  (Birth moms do not need to have any religious affiliation).  However, there are a lot of adoption agencies that are secular: AdoptUSKidsWACAP, Open Adoption & Family Services, Northwest Adoption Exchange, and Amara are a few that I know of.

One reader asked via the website for advice on what to do if you’re wanting to explore adoption but your spouse isn’t.
Another reader asked via Facebook what circumstances led to our choosing adoption for our family. 

I’ll answer both together!
I remember wanting to adopt as early as high school, it’s something I always wanted to do.  When Chris and I started getting serious and having “those” talks, he was up for adoption but worried that he wouldn’t feel bonded to a child that wasn’t biologically his.  It was something we put on the back burner but continued to talk about it and pray about it together through our dating, engagement, and the first few years of our marriage.  In 2012, we adopted our dog Macaroni, and shortly after, Chris said to me one day “I love Mac like he’s my own son and he’s not even human.  Let’s do it.” And there it was!  We were adopting!  Sidenote: feeling attached to Anthony has never been an issue for either of us.  A post next week will talk about a book we read about bonding/attachment that we really loved.
So long story short (tl;dr), we started our relationship on two different pages, but eventually it was something we both really wanted.  As far as advice, I really don’t think an adoption journey is something you want to start without being super united about your plans.  There were some really hard moments, and we both leaned on each other a lot.  When I look back on times that I felt at the time were hard, I now look back with fond memories of feeling like it was “us against the world”.  I’d suggest giving it time, exposing yourselves to other adoptive families, maybe reading a few books or seeing a few movies?  Just get the conversation going and dispel the myths that either of you might be believing.  I wish I had better advice than that but knowledge is power, and I really feel like anything kid-related (whether biological or otherwise) is going to be rough on your marriage if you’re not going into it on the same page.

One reader asked for clarification about where I said in one post that you shouldn’t say “he is adopted”, but instead “he was adopted”, as it doesn’t define who you are, but then I also shared about the adoption triad, which lists “biological parents / adoptive parents / adoptee” and they wondered why it was okay to define someone as “the adoptee” if it’s not okay to say “they are adopted”. 
In the case of the adoption triad, he needs to be defined as “the adoptee” because that’s who he is in relation to the triad, not who he is as a person.  In the same way that you should just say “parents” instead of “adoptive parents”, on the triad the adoptive parents have to be defined as such.  Hope that makes sense!

One reader asked via the website about Anthony’s birth father, who in my story I only mentioned a couple times, WAY less than I mentioned Anthony’s birth mom!
Keep reading, I’ll address that below!

Lastly, one reader (disclosure: my mom!) wanted clarification on the post where I talked about being open with the adoptee about their background, but within age-appropriate stages.
I think I used the example that you wouldn’t tell a four year old that their birth mother was a crack addict.  Not only is this not Anthony’s story, but it was kind of blunt and insensitive of me to put it that way.  I only meant to be blunt to show how ridiculous it would be to share something true but tough with a kiddo so young.  At that age, you’d say something like “she wasn’t able to take care of you” or “she was making bad choices” or something, and then share the tough truth with them at some point when they are older and can handle it.  Never ever lie about their story, as it is theirs, but not telling the full truth is okay in the younger years.

So now let’s talk about Anthony’s story belonging to Anthony. 
We love Anthony’s birth family and we love having them as a part of his life!  But many have noticed that we don’t post pictures of them, or talk specifically about them, or their situations, or anything.  Yes, this is on purpose.  No, we’re not ashamed of them at all.
When Anthony is older and can make decisions for himself, he may decide to tell you all ALL about his extended family.  But, that’s his choice.  We decided at the beginning of our adoption journey, before Anthony was Anthony, that we would keep details about our child’s birth family, the reasons and circumstances surrounding his adoption placement, and the specifics of any possible drug/alcohol/mental health issues that may or may not be present, confidential between literally him and us.  So forgive me if I’m ever vague when I talk about Anthony’s birth parents, but it’s because I love my son.  His story is his to share, if he wants, when he wants, and what he wants!

Thanks for reading, especially this week’s more personal posts.  I truly, truly, appreciate the feedback I’ve received and thank you for sending encouraging messages as we shared some of this story publicly for the first time!

Don’t go anywhere!  National Adoption Month isn’t over and I’ll still be posting daily about adoption-related things this month!  Plus, I have some really fun things planned for December, including some major money-making tips for quick holiday cash!  Those posts start December 1st!

Thanks, friends!

Filed under: Adoption, November 2017