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Adoption and Privacy: Protecting Our Daughters' Stories

One thing that has been common to both of our adoption experiences has been the curiosity of others. We get all sorts of questions, and while our experience has been that most questions are thoughtful and respectful, we have had some that are rude and some that are simply from those who are ill informed. From my perspective, if someone asks something about one of us, as parents, then that’s fair game. In fact, I’d much rather have someone ask me questions like, “Why are you adopting?” than to have them make assumptions and ask something more along the lines of, “So how long did you try to get pregnant before you gave up?” (Yes, I was actually asked that second one.) However, when it comes to information about my children and their circumstances, there are a lot of things I’d rather people didn’t ask. It’s not that the information isn’t available or that we believe there should be shame attached to the reasons that each of our daughters needed us; it’s simply that it’s not our story to tell.

As parents who blog, we all walk a fine line of deciding what is appropriate to talk about and what might make our children uncomfortable in the future. While I may tell other stories about my daughters’ lives in our family or share ways that we work out how to meet their needs, there are some things that are simply too personal to share. The information surrounding why they needed an adoptive family and why both of my daughters were waiting children can be shared in a general sense, but I want to protect the particulars so that each of them can tell what they want to whomever they choose. I want them to have the power over who gets to know their stories.

In Elvie’s case in particular, we are very sensitive to the need to protect her as much as we can. Her diagnosis is something that, in other cases, has been exploited in a way that is disrespectful and unkind. While we are comfortable with our daughter’s diagnosis and love her exactly as she is, we also don’t want her diagnosis to follow her around her whole life. She will have corrective surgery, after which her needs will become much more general and more appropriate to share. We know she has a huge cheering section, and we absolutely want everyone to cheer her on as she goes through what is a very tough beginning. However, we don’t want her to be known forever as the girl with the interesting diagnosis.

What we can tell you is that Elvie will have at least one major surgery to correct a significant physical deformity that affects the lower half of her body and is causing her growth to be slowed and her heart to work harder. We can also tell you that we are so proud of her for hanging in there this long while she waits for what she needs. We can tell you that we love her and we want the absolute best for her, and that we look forward to watching her grow into being her own person, with her own preferences, who can someday make the decision to tell or not tell what she made it through.

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