Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A word about privacy.

As soon as I hung up the phone with Liz on Monday afternoon I flipped it open again and started surfing through my frequently called list. I did it without thinking, because that's the kind of person I am. When I'm excited about something, when I'm nervous about something, when I'm thinking about something, I talk about it. Heck, even when none of those things are true, I'm usually up for talking about something. I am a raging extrovert, and I process things best when I'm thinking out loud and when someone is listening to me. Andrew has learned, God bless him, that I'm not always looking for a solution or an answer. Most of the time I just want to talk. It's one reason why blogging is something I enjoy. I remember telling my mother about blogging a few years ago and explaining it something like this, "I just have more to say than any one person has time to listen to, and this way I can put it out there and other folks can read/listen or not, as they choose."

So of course my natural response to the truckload of information about this particular case was to find someone to process it with. Andrew was in a meeting, most of my friends and my parents probably at work. I returned to my desk and sat down, thinking about the blog post I'd write later, when I got home from work, about this exciting development. And then I remembered something that I had heard one of the social workers from our agency talk about, that has been reiterated in much of the reading we've done about adoptive parenting.

The details of this case don't belong to me, even though I do know about them. Even if this baby turns out to be our baby, perhaps especially if this baby turns out to be our baby, those details still won't belong to us. They belong to the child, who won't have the ability to understand or process them for several years yet. Part of protecting our child's privacy will be keeping the sensitive details of his or her conception and birth private until our son or daughter can begin to understand and process them for herself or himself. This doesn't mean we can't talk about it to anyone else, but it does mean I need to show restraint, to stick to those who I know will be involved and important in our child's life going forward, and who we trust to respect our wishes and the boundaries we set for sharing information about our baby. It's a delicate thing, and something that would never have occurred to me on my own - that unlike a biological child whose entire early life happens within the context of the parental relationship, an adopted child has story and life experience that doesn't belong to the parents. And as such, isn't the parents' information to share with world.

So, suffice to say, as we are presented to particular cases I will do my best to protect the private experience of each as if that child were going to be ours. The details won't show up here, and I might not offer them to you in person, if we know each other in real life. It's not because I don't want to - believe me I'm dying to talk about it. But this is one of the first steps in my lifelong project of being the sort of mother who respects her child and his or her life experiences, including the experience that are his or hers alone.

1 comment:

  1. What an important thing for the social worker to say. I don't think it would have occured to me either. And what a wonderful gift for your soon-to-be child: a parent who respectfully recognizes their individual story from the start. Totallly commendable (and would be hard for me too!)

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