It is likely that we've all had that experience at some time: someone asking us to speak to the choices or feelings of others in our adoption constellation. Perhaps it is someone asking a first parent how their child feels about being in an open adoption. Or someone asking an adoptee why their adoptive parents chose to adopt. You get the idea.How do you handle such questions when they are asked of you? How would you want the other parties in your open adoption to handle those questions when they are about you?Despite being open about the fact that I have never met my daughters' first mom, I get questions like this all the time. In fact, since baby S arrived it has intensified. My theory is that while my girls' genetic connection to each other is something that is easy to celebrate it is difficult for people to come up with a mental backstory for it on their own. So as soon as someone ferrets out the relationship, something I wrote about here, then the questions about Z begin.
Are these her only children?
Why didn't she use birth control?
How did it happen again?
So...she gave up two babies?
Why did she do this twice?
and so forth. I can feel my defenses go up when anyone asks questions about Z and her motives and reasons for needing to place. I see Z as our family, and I don't feel comfortable sharing all the details of what I know about her with everyone or conjecturing about what I don't know. So the challenge for me is to step back from my instincts - which are to defend or explain or simply shut down the conversation, usually - and instead to default to the time honored "Why do you ask?" response that is my standby. If pressed I will usually say that she needed to place and made the best choice she could for her children. I will not discuss her pregnancies or conjecture about the hows or whys there.
This is the thing I come back to over and over - while questions about Z and her reasons and situation and so forth are totally natural, they are not fair. This isn't stuff that my kids can understand right now but someday they'll have these questions too. I don't want them to glean answers from overhearing me talk to friends or strangers. I want them to get those answers from a direct conversation with, well ideally with Z. It's her story.
It's hard, and I do talk about our adoption experience. But I do my best to talk about MY experience or about Andrew's and my experience without telling someone else's story. And someday when I have a little more courage and presence of mind that's exactly what I'll say - that the answers to those particular questions just aren't my story to tell.