mom, please don't share that on the internet


I know you love me. I know you love me dearly. So dearly. And I love you too.

In fact, you love me so much and were so excited to tell the entire world that you were adopting a toddler. And while the news was received with much excitement, you were surprised when the first few people didn't completely understand why you and dad were adopting and when some friends wondered why you were adopting from my birth country instead of from the States. You were also taken aback when people responded with horror stories about adoption or when folks told you that you were angels for adopting or that I would be the luckiest baby ever. Even the handful who responded by saying that they could never love a child that wasn't really "theirs" were simply trying to respond to the news and didn't know what else to say. I get it. You've heard it all, and that must have been exhausting trying to educate people about adoption.

Your excitement continued as you ventured through the adoption process. Fingerprints, interviews with the adoption social worker who asked you about everything from your monthly expenses to the details of your marital relationship to your tucked away childhood memories... the doctor appointments and the  psychological evaluations and waiting in long lines to have documents state sealed... dashing to the Walgreen's to pick up photos for your dossier and writing long drafts of your autobiography for a social worker to comb over... What a crazy process, and one in which many people do not understand.

In fact, to document your process and to share your excitement, you started a blog. After all, you had read so many blogs of other adoptive parents that you were quite excited to start your own. You put your adoption timeline on the sidebar, added photos of my decorated bedroom, and popped in with posts here and there to let your friends and family know how things were going (or not going... we know adoption takes a long time).

You were that excited for me, and you hadn't even met me.

And, of course upon meeting me, your love for me materialized, and it became "us" instead of "you" and "me".

The photos that were taken of our first moments together and of our first days in that small hotel room--you shared them on your blog, as so many people were waiting to see "us". You described my behaviors and the words that I used and went into great detail about my appearance--the appearance of a girl who had lived in an orphanage for three years. You talked about how blessed you were to be adopting me and about how you were so glad I was finally coming "home". Of course you didn't want to forget a thing and also wanted others to experience and learn about this miraculous thing called adoption, so you typed out every last thought and feeling.

But as you continued to blog and to join adoption Facebook groups, you became more and more comfortable with on-line friendships and support groups. After all, these were your peers who were also adopting or had "been there done that", and some of them became close friends. Who else to ask about where you can get the cheapest plane tickets to my birth country or how to address my hoarding of food or how to handle the tantrums when I was so scared and confused about the new people who looked nothing like me.

And I know that you love me and that you believe in adoption and that you want to get other people on board and more comfortable and excited about the way our family came together... or maybe you want to use my story and my adoption as a way to offer support and encouragement to other adoptive parents. To give hope, to show them that they are not alone, and to let them know that they are normal in their experiences and in their feelings of parenting an adopted child. Because we know that adoptive parents are often in the trenches--plugging along with attachment strains and language challenges and medical needs--and not always very understood by those around them.

But can I ask you one thing?

Please be careful with what you say about me online.

Certainly you've read about the dangers of the internet. That whatever is posted on the virtual highways of the world wide web is there forever. There is no guarantee that the words and photos you have posted of and about me will not be replicated, used in manners that you do not wish, or shared with others with intent different than your own. And someday when I figure out how to google my own name--what will I read about myself?

So when you write about me and my adoption in your excitement and with your pure intentions, please don't share everything. Especially on the internet. And especially when you haven't even shared it with me.

Because remember, oh please remember, I had to lose a whole bunch in order to even become a part of your family. Like, I had to lose my father and my mother and my extended family and my language and the culture of my community and birth country. I had to move to an entirely new country and get on an airplane with complete strangers. I'm not even old enough to understand what all of this means yet, so it doesn't seem fair for Great Aunt Gertrude to know the sensitive and personal details about my birth parents or about my relinquishment before I do. And it doesn't seem fair for your hairdresser and for your Facebook friends to know how old my birthparents are and about their lifestyle choices when I don't yet know.

While it's not a secret that I was adopted, I hope that most of the information will be mine to share. And I also hope that this information isn't stored on the internet forever for just anyone to read.

Can you imagine if I learn from the kids at school (who learned from their parents, your friends) that my first family didn't make enough money to keep me or that my parents didn't know what to do with me so left me on the side of a street? I need to hear this information from you, and when you tell others first, you're running the risk of others telling me before you do.

Or worse, you're running the risk of the story morphing into something simply untrue. You know the game of telephone, right? Everyone loves a good adoption story, and what if the details of my first family and my adoption get so out of hand with it traveling from interested person to interested person that the information isn't accurate anymore? Not to mention that I don't want everyone talking about me, especially since I'm already going to be sticking out in my family and in my community.

My adoptee friends and I started our lives in the wombs of mothers just like everyone else did. Except our lives took sharp turns early on, and usually we came with very little when we joined our new families. Sometimes with just the clothes on our backs and our given names from the orphanages. So the information you were given about us in our referral paperwork or the words that were verbally shared about us from social workers or orphanage staff? Well, that's pretty darn important information to us. Because when you have little to nothing about the first years of your life, everything becomes important.

And again, I recognize that you may be trying to exchange information and experiences about adoption with fellow adoptive parents for good reasons. That you want others to know that you're all in it together with attachment struggles or bonding challenges. That you want new adoptive parents to consider things you had never considered. Or maybe it's that you and your adoptive parent friends are discussing drugs, homelessness, lifestyle choices, or abuse/neglect in the context of our first families and learning from one another how best to share that information with us. But please don't state and discuss those things publicly on the internet. Find a different way to receive and offer support and information without blasting our information publicly on the World Wide Web for all to see. 

You love me, and I know your intent isn't to embarrass me or to paint me as a charity case or as a mere statistic or to showcase me as an example of adoption gone well. Or to make me stick out more than I already do. But sometimes the implications of your sharing on the internet includes all of those things. 

Please think twice before posting that status update, publishing that blog post, or even sharing about my adoption with your Tuesday night book club.

I love you,

Your Daughter

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