Wednesday, October 7, 2009

OA Roundtable #7: blogging, privacy, and open adoption

The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It's designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. To for links to what other bloggers are writing on this topic, click here.

This month's OA Roundtable topic is Blogging, Privacy, and Open Adoption. The question on the table is this: Where do you draw the lines--on your blog and in your personal life--and why? What, if anything, don't you tell?

At a birthday party a couple weekends ago Andrew and I were approached by another attendee that we didn't know.

"Hi," she said. "I..I feel like you're famous or something, I have to tell you, I read your blog." I felt both surprised and flattered. This was a first! And it was also a reminder. Oh yeah, people we don't know actually do read this!

This isn't my first public blog. I've been writing about my life on the Internet since early 2003, when I became addicted to my friend Andrea's livejournal blog and decided to launch one of my own. Livejournal played a big part in the social life of my early-mid twenties, and the blogging I did there, while public, was almost exclusively for my own circle of friends whom I knew in "real life." The biggest exception to that rule turned out to be Andrew. He and I read each other's livejournal blogs before we ever met. Which is all to say, blogs and blogging have been a part of our identity from the very beginning. Anonymous blogs and blogging, however, never have.**

For over a decade now, I've been a fairly public person. That's a choice that was made when I decided to be in a rock band, and then made again when I chose to pursue a vocation as a priest. Andrew is/was more visible as a musician than I ever have been, so he gets this too. In fact, I've been recognized by strangers as his wife almost as many times as I have for playing drums in my own musical project. Our wedding was written up in the local alternative weekly paper, and while we aren't famous by any stretch whatsoever, we've learned a thing or two along the way about how to be public people who still have a rich and private personal life together.

So I don't feel the need to be anonymous on the Internet. I find writing here to be an interesting personal discipline and a helpful place to express myself, developing a public life that is authentic, open, and honest without sharing what is actually private.

That being said, as our family grows and includes people I don't know well, such as our child's first family, I do want to be careful and respectful. I also do not expect that just because I have found a balance I'm happy with in my public/private life that this same balance will work for our child. What I don't know yet is exactly how this will evolve for me, as we don't quite have a child yet. After we have baby J I may want to be limiting the number of pictures I post. I already often use initials or aliases instead of names when I am writing about folks who don't have an Internet presence, or don't have an Internet presence under their own name. I have a feeling that a move to a different blogging platform might be in order, where I can have more control over who views what, with more options that just private/public to choose from. I have watched carefully as some of you have made your blogs private, started over anonymously, and worked on these issues with care and intention. I have a good grasp of the options, if and when I want to change things up.

I guess the bottom line for me is to always be telling my story, and not anyone else's. I can only speak authentically to my own experience. And as the parent of an adopted child there will parts of my child's life that truly don't belong to me, that really are not mine to tell. That dimension of her life will be private and, along with the truly private dimensions of my life, and my shared family life, will never be discussed in a blog.

**I just want to note that this is in no way a negative judgement on those who do blog anonymously. There are lots of good reasons to blog that way, and I read lots of bloggers whose identities are part of what is "private" for them. ♥

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a note. I have been following you for a while now and been rooting for you from the sidelines. Most of what you write makes a lot of sense as my hubby and I are Indians and we will in all likelihood be adopting a hispanic/mixed race child. The challenges of preserving racial identity in adoption has been the subject of most of my thoughts these days. I hope to be able to learn from you once your child is home over the next month.