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Adoption Blog: Be Bold or Go Home

When Your Family Needs Help: A Few More Thoughts on Privacy

Being a parent is difficult. None of us really knows what we're doing. Most of us try really hard.

In my last post, I discussed the challenge adoptive parents face in trying to balance our children's privacy with the need to share or reach out when our families struggle. I referred to a candid blog post, written by another adoptive mom, that had met with both praise and criticism online, as an example of how the privacy balance isn't the same for everyone -- but there are a million other posts I could have singled out. Mom blogs have exploded in the last 10 years because women have been driven to connect and confess how hard, painful, and ridiculous motherhood can sometimes be. Dads have gotten in the mix too. As the mom blog culture has matured, the children of some of pioneering bloggers have gotten older too. Bloggers' kids have started asking their parents not to share so much.

Parents don't have to be bloggers to feel that tension; it affects every parent on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, but as always, adoption adds complications.

Adoptive families exist outside the norm. Sometimes, when mothers don't "match" babies, or brothers don't "match" sisters, we literally stand out in a crowd. Our families are accosted by curious strangers, acquaintances, and even friends, almost every day. We're a little different, and people expect that we have dramatic or heartwarming tales to tell -- and who doesn't love a good story? Folks put us on a pedestal because we've got the "heart" to take in a child who is "not our own."  Others question the choices we've made: why we didn't adopt from America/from foster care/from our same race/from another race/ from a country where kids really need help? Adoptive families live between the old rock and a hard place, judged as more loving and special than ordinary, yet somehow less real and legitimate than normal.

Let's face it: adoption is a wonderful way to form a family, but sometimes, it's lonely.

Do the unique challenges in adoption drive some of us to occasionally overshare, especially when folks question our families ALL THE TIME? Do some of us shut down and go silent, partly because we're exhausted from fielding questions about our families ALL THE TIME? Yes and yes. Finding the balance between sharing and secrecy is a high wire act worthy of Cirque de Soleil. And if it's a challenge for us parents, who've chosen adoption freely, how much trickier is it for our kids, who had no choice?

The key for us as parents, I think, is to take care of ourselves first, in body, mind and spirit, so that we don't feel compelled to vent continuously or habitually withdraw, and, most important, so that we have the patience and energy to care for our children. In my next post, I'll focus on a few strategies parents can apply to ease household stress and support self-care, which helps the whole family.

Related Posts on AdoptiveFamiliesCircle


My APs took a pic of me in the tub and included it with every single slide show they gave to everyone. After running from the room too many times, I refused to even be in the house when they pulled out the projector. Nowadays, that would be considered kiddie porn. I shudder to think what they would post in a blog.

By ScottK on Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 11:45 pm.

“Adoptive families live between the old rock and a hard place, judged as more loving and special than ordinary, yet somehow less real and legitimate than normal.”  Yes, Sharon I agree with you about what you said and thank you for mentioning a subject that I think has caused me the most angst about adoption.  While adoption is near and dear to my heart as an adoptee and an adoptive mommy, the issue of being less real and legitimate than a “normal family” is also near to me in two ways, but is not dear.  (Jane Brown has talked about this before too, and I also appreciated her talking about this) 

I think this issue about being less real and legitimate than a normal (biological) family can bring some challenge and heartache in adoption…for adoptive parents, adoptive children, and also for birthparents.  For adoptive parents and birthparents our bond and legitimacy of being a parent to our child is questioned because we are not the “only mother or father” our child has.  For me as an adoptive mom I am not considered the “natural mother”... for my child’s birthmom she was told by one of her close family members I don’t think meaning to hurt her, that our daughters are not “hers” (I guess because she made an adoption plan for them and is not raising them).  As an adoptee, hearing that makes you feel like your family that loves you and that you live with is not “real” like others’ families are, or is only real if others think so (as some say that your adoptive mom is your real “mom” and others say that the birthmother is the “real mother.”  You also have others wondering about the bond that you feel with your birthmother, after all she didn’t raise you and maybe you didn’t even know her growing up, so why would you feel a “bond” for her, etc.

I think adoption has blessings and losses, and for me one of the losses is the attitude that others can have about our families in adoption, birth and adoptive.  I wish everyone would be sensitive to adoptees (and adoptive parents and birth parents) to understand and validate the legitimacy of the love that happens in adoption between the parents/children and between adoptive parents/birth parents who feel a bond to each other that is special because of their child  


By twicethelove on Friday, November 30, 2012 at 12:14 am.

Thanks, Scott and Kris, for taking time to read and comment.

By Sharon Van Epps on Wednesday, December 05, 2012 at 4:37 am.

Scott,  bio kids don’t like the showing of bathtub pictures either.  And, as irritating as it is with a projector, it is positively dangerous to post stuff like that online.  All parents, both bio and adoptive, need to be aware that just because blogging is easy and cathartive doesn’t mean you should be sharing all your private family moments.  We give lectures to kids all the time about the things they post on social networking sites, but kids (and plenty of adults) still do post things they really don’t want everyone to see, and they get so surprised when it comes back to bite them.  I can’t tell you how many times I have been able to use social networking posts against people in trial.  The same would be true for blogging.

Oversharing is a very real problem.  For everyone, and definitely for adoptive parents specifically.  Many times kids don’t choose to be defined by whether they are adopted or not, and may not want strangers focussing on that aspect of their lives.

By kzmom2005 on Wednesday, January 09, 2013 at 5:33 pm.

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Meet the Author

Sharon Van Epps

Sharon Van Epps


I have recently adopted or am adopting from...
Ethiopia, India

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