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Adoptive Moms Adoptive Moms

Explaining to distant "friends"

Posted by on Oct. 9, 2012 at 10:06 AM
  • 11 Replies

I have several distant "friends." These are people that I don't talk to everyday but I'm friends with on Facebook. We see each others pictures and comment on how big our kids are getting and how we should get them together but never actually do. These are also friends family of people we used to be really close with but lost touch because the friend we had in common moved away. 

Well my question is how do I explain my adopted son to these people when I run into them in public?

All of my close friends understand the situation and know that my DH and I adopted his grandson. They know "where he came from" and all have pretty much accepted that he is our son. 

But then I run into these random people who know me but they don't really know my day to day life. 

Like last night I was at wal-mart near my parents house (my parents live in the town I grew up in). I swear I ran into 15 people I knew. Some of the knew the situation with DS, or knew enough to not ask questions. 

But then there were others who were just genuinely curious, they weren't trying to be rude just confused. These people knew that I had DS (my oldest) but they knew that we wasn't 10 months old. They also know I am pregnant. I truly believe that anyone that questioned me felt bad at first because they thought they missed one of my pregnancies. 

I got comments like

"Now who is this little guy?"

"I knew you were prengnat, but I didn't know that LD (my oldest DS) already had a little brother?"

Then some were just plain straight forward "He's not yours he is? I know I haven't seen you in a while, but I don't remember you having a second child?"

Some of the questions I just answered vaguely, like "This is Michael he is 10 months old." "Yeah I guess it has been a while..."

I'm trying to keep it simple, but someitmes I have to explain that he is adopted, just becaue the math is almost too close. I feel really bad about doing so... I know DS is not old enough to undestand, but I don't want him to think I am disowning him. Also we don't plan on telling DS that he is adopted until he is old enough to understand per his BM's request. 

So I need a better answer other than "Oh, he's adopted."

I'm sure a lot of you don't have this problem if you had a planned adoption...but maybe you might still have suggestions?
 


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by on Oct. 9, 2012 at 10:06 AM
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Replies (1-10):
SamsMomSays
by on Oct. 9, 2012 at 10:31 AM
3 moms liked this
When I see people and get the "I didn't know you we're pregnant," I say, "I'll take that as a compliment"! Lol
I would just say "he's my son". If they're not close enough to know your situation, than you don't owe them an explanation.
One of my stepson's friend's mothers said to me, in all innocence, "oh, he looks just like you. You have strong genes!" I just said, "we'll, since he's gorgeous, ill say thanks!" And laughed.
DH said to me after, "should we have told her?" I said no. I don't want my sons identity to be about him being adopted. Btw, we are very open about adoption. All our close friends, family, and many not so close friends know. We have no issue that he is adopted. We just don't want it to be defining for him. When he chooses to tell, he can.
Who is this little guy = our son
I didn't know you had two = yup!
He's not yours = yup, he is
Keep it real simple. He's yours and that's it. :)
doodlebopfan
by Bronze Member on Oct. 9, 2012 at 10:32 AM
OP-"Also we don't plan on telling DS that he is adopted until he is old enough to understand per his BM's request."

I think that there is a HUGE difference in a child knowing that he/she is adopted and that same child knowing his birth parents. IMHO, the birth parents may ask you to keep them anonymous to your adopted children, but every child deserves to know their history if only in non-identifying terms. They should know how they came to be a part of the family. In our home, we have told our son (not daily, but over time) that God was ALWAYS protecting him even before he was born and knew that he needed a Mommy and Daddy who could take care of him because his birth parents were unable to take care of babies "when he was born (or a baby or little)". Our son was 6 months old when he came to us. We purposely say that they couldn't take care of babies, rather than they couldn't take care of HIM for a couple of reasons. 1) some adoptees think that they must have been bad as a baby or a hard baby to take care of and that it's their fault that their birth parent(s) chose adoption for them, and 2) some bio parents go on to have other children and the adoptee wonders why they could take care of a younger sibling (or several) but not them. He needs to realize that it was not his fault at all.

What I am hearing in your post is that you are afraid that you are breaking a promise to his birth mom by telling others that he's adopted. I don't think you are because I don't think that she should be able to dictate the flow of information regarding his adoption. Right now, while he's little, you can set the record straight with those that you choose to. These are the same people that you'd rather not ask questions of him when he's older. You might just say something like, "God has all sorts of ways of building families" or "Yep, he's ours and we are blessed to have him!" (My sister and I are 11 months apart. It happens. :) )

The research that I have seen shows that a child who always knew they were adopted even without knowledge or contact with birth families do better than those who are told at an older age that they are adopted. They feel as though their parents lied to them and they wonder what else they kept secret from them. Also, many children learn they are adopted in harmful ways, i.e. a cousin or family friend tell them before the parents got around to it. I recently read a post of an adoptee who was told by a cousin when she was younger that "you aren't my real family, you're adopted, so I don't have to be nice to you". Be sure that that information comes from YOU. It will feel awkward at first, but he's little enough that he won't remember, so it's good practice for you now. Good luck!
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Ms.Pteranodon
by on Oct. 9, 2012 at 10:50 AM

We deff don't correct strangers when they say how much he looks like us. I get told in stores by cashiers how much he favors me (and he actually does look a little like me). Then behind closed doors DH and I laugh about how we had to adopt a kid in order to get one to look like me. (My oldest DS looks NOTHING like me). My oldest DS and my adopted DS do look a little alike though. They have the EXACT same birth mark. We just chalk it up to destiny. 

I get what you are saying about not wanting his idenity to be about him being adopted. 

I will deff try keeping it simple. But at the same time, I also use it as an excuse.... which I no is not right. 

For exampl when I am questioned why I didn't breastfeed (which happens when I talk about BFing my oldest DS and how I can't wait to BF the new baby). I try to just leave it at "formula feeding was the only option for DS." But when you run into the hardcore pro BF mamas they always respond with "BF is ALWAYS an option" and I start to feel like a bad mom and feel the need to justify, and will add "Well not when he's adopted." 

Quoting SamsMomSays:

When I see people and get the "I didn't know you we're pregnant," I say, "I'll take that as a compliment"! Lol
I would just say "he's my son". If they're not close enough to know your situation, than you don't owe them an explanation.
One of my stepson's friend's mothers said to me, in all innocence, "oh, he looks just like you. You have strong genes!" I just said, "we'll, since he's gorgeous, ill say thanks!" And laughed.
DH said to me after, "should we have told her?" I said no. I don't want my sons identity to be about him being adopted. Btw, we are very open about adoption. All our close friends, family, and many not so close friends know. We have no issue that he is adopted. We just don't want it to be defining for him. When he chooses to tell, he can.
Who is this little guy = our son
I didn't know you had two = yup!
He's not yours = yup, he is
Keep it real simple. He's yours and that's it. :)


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Ms.Pteranodon
by on Oct. 9, 2012 at 11:09 AM

Again, I get that.. but it is a different situation when the BM is so close to home. We adopted DS from my SD. So we fear that once he knows he is adopted it won't be long for him to make the connection. 

I also completley understand about telling him sooner rather than later. Both my brother and I were adopted. I always knew I was because I was adopted at an age that I remember it. My brother was adopted before he was a year old, and was never told. My parents knew from birth that he was going to have social issues and coping issues because his BM did drugs and drank heavily while pregnant with him. My parents wanted to wait until the right time because of his disabliites. The right time never came and an older realitive let it slip at a family function when he was 19. He was really hurt. He was also kind of ashamed because he picked on em for being adopted when we were kids. 

I agree from my first hand experince kids do better if they know they are adopted. Which is why DH, SD (DS BM) and I have agreed that we will just not answer unasked questions. If that makes sense. DS will probably start asking questions at some point and at that point we will asnwer them with a book we have made explaining his first year of life. 

SD and I have made it together and we feel that as long as we approach it the right way he will be okay with it. 



Quoting doodlebopfan:

OP-"Also we don't plan on telling DS that he is adopted until he is old enough to understand per his BM's request."

I think that there is a HUGE difference in a child knowing that he/she is adopted and that same child knowing his birth parents. IMHO, the birth parents may ask you to keep them anonymous to your adopted children, but every child deserves to know their history if only in non-identifying terms. They should know how they came to be a part of the family. In our home, we have told our son (not daily, but over time) that God was ALWAYS protecting him even before he was born and knew that he needed a Mommy and Daddy who could take care of him because his birth parents were unable to take care of babies "when he was born (or a baby or little)". Our son was 6 months old when he came to us. We purposely say that they couldn't take care of babies, rather than they couldn't take care of HIM for a couple of reasons. 1) some adoptees think that they must have been bad as a baby or a hard baby to take care of and that it's their fault that their birth parent(s) chose adoption for them, and 2) some bio parents go on to have other children and the adoptee wonders why they could take care of a younger sibling (or several) but not them. He needs to realize that it was not his fault at all.

What I am hearing in your post is that you are afraid that you are breaking a promise to his birth mom by telling others that he's adopted. I don't think you are because I don't think that she should be able to dictate the flow of information regarding his adoption. Right now, while he's little, you can set the record straight with those that you choose to. These are the same people that you'd rather not ask questions of him when he's older. You might just say something like, "God has all sorts of ways of building families" or "Yep, he's ours and we are blessed to have him!" (My sister and I are 11 months apart. It happens. :) )

The research that I have seen shows that a child who always knew they were adopted even without knowledge or contact with birth families do better than those who are told at an older age that they are adopted. They feel as though their parents lied to them and they wonder what else they kept secret from them. Also, many children learn they are adopted in harmful ways, i.e. a cousin or family friend tell them before the parents got around to it. I recently read a post of an adoptee who was told by a cousin when she was younger that "you aren't my real family, you're adopted, so I don't have to be nice to you". Be sure that that information comes from YOU. It will feel awkward at first, but he's little enough that he won't remember, so it's good practice for you now. Good luck!


SarahSuzyQ
by Sarah on Oct. 9, 2012 at 11:43 AM

First of all, I love your screen name! :) My 4yo son is a big Dinosaur Train fan, although he hasn't quite made the adoption connection yet...

You have gotten some really good advice already. One thing I want to add, which sort of speaks to a lot of what has already been said, is that you don't want to inadvertantly communicate that adoption is shameful or that being adopted is something of which your son should be ashamed. Certainly he has the right to privacy, and to tell his story as he chooses... It sounds like you're really aware of that in casual conversation, which is so good -- his adoption does not make his life public property. But also, there may be a time and a place to educate others about adoption without breaking too much confidentiality around your son's situation. It's a tricky balance, but I think he does need to know that it's ok, and even no big deal, that he was adopted.

The other part of that is that if you wait to tell him until he's older, that can communicate that it was a secret for a reason... And he may not be mature enough to understand your SD's reasoning when he does find out that he was adopted. Additionally, as you saw with your brother, it can be really hurtful to learn the truth from anyone other than mom and dad. Then it suddenly becomes a trust issue on top of everything else.

I understand your SD's desire to protect her privacy, but at the end of the day, you really do have to focus first on what is best for the child. And that is having parents who he knows are honest and trustworthy, and knowing about his adoption from the very beginning. It sounds like you have a plan in place with your picture book, so I think it's more being aware that you don't want to avoid the truth/conversation when it comes up. I know that a lot of toddlers/preschoolers (including my son!) are very interested in baby stories, growing in someone's belly, etc... So it may be a really young age, and hopefully both you and SD are still on board with talking about it when he's 2 or 3 or 4, if that's indeed when it comes up.

GL! It sounds like you have thought through a lot of these issues from your own experience and perspective, and that alone will make you really well equipped to work through things with your son. :)

shell81
by on Oct. 9, 2012 at 5:00 PM

You have great advice above. I just wanted to say we adopted my husbands daughters, daughter. I am 31 and he is 43 so I WAS a young gma but no one ?'s us. Everyone knows and they know not to say anything to her if they want to be a part of her life cause we will tell her once she understands:)

Ms.Pteranodon
by on Oct. 9, 2012 at 5:06 PM
That sounds like us. My DH is in his mid 30s and I'm only in my 20s!! We are both too young to be grandparents.




Quoting shell81:

You have great advice above. I just wanted to say we adopted my husbands daughters, daughter. I am 31 and he is 43 so I WAS a young gma but no one ?'s us. Everyone knows and they know not to say anything to her if they want to be a part of her life cause we will tell her once she understands:)


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eoewan
by on Oct. 9, 2012 at 7:02 PM

Firstly, welcome to the group.

I have nothing more to add that hasn't been said already. We've had our Nye from birth. Our dd asked us to adopt him. I keep explanations simple. I don't give out information that isn't relevant to protect our dd's, our's, and Nye's privacy. Nye will grow up knowing that his sister is his tummy mummy and she was unable to take care of a baby. Our families and close friends know about our situation...if I didn't tell them in the last 7 months then the people questioning are not close enough to know our business.

cheers, donna

meam4444
by on Oct. 11, 2012 at 12:17 PM

I just wanted to welcome you to the group!  It looks like you were able to get a lot of good advice.  Like anything else in life, you don't owe an explanation to anyone except those you personally feel the need to give one to.  It is your own personal business.  :)

msjoecool
by Crissy on Oct. 12, 2012 at 8:55 AM
Hi and welcome. When I first read your post I closed the tab after reading. What was I going to add to all the experience already here? I came back to ramble on because I am passionate about adoption and being honest about it.

I see absolutely nothing wrong with telling people frankly that you adopted your grandson. It's not a secret. It's not a dirty word. It's your and your child's reality. The sooner you stop seeing a stigma surrounding it, the sooner you'll stop projecting it and the more comfortable you and your son will be.

I am proud to have adopted my daughters. I have said it openly and often from the time they arrived in our home. When people tell me that they look like me, I respond that God's plans are amazing. While I don't tell everyone the details of their cases, I have always been candid that they were foster children in our home.

Your situation is extended family. That's awesome. Regardless of the circumstance that preceded the adoption, rejoice that your beautiful son is in your home. How fortunate for all of you!

As far as when to give him backstory, I can't help with that. I grew up in the same house with two sisters and a brother. One day I told elder sister that Mom had eldest sister when she was 13. When I figured out the math, I was old enough to learn that sisters and brother had a different mom but we all had Daddy in common. Oh. OK. I didn't need to know sooner because it had no bearing on my life. The important part was that they are my siblings.

My second oldest nephew is adopted. When DH and I were writing autobiographies to be included in our dossier for Chinese adoption, I had almost finished with mine before it occurred to me that adoption is already a part of our family. He's my nephew; how he came to be is immaterial.

Good luck to you. Lots of hugs too.
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