Being the Expert in Your Own Story

Adoption. Almost every one knows someone who is adopted, has adopted, or placed a child for adoption. And every adoption has a story attached with it. Some of these stories are memorable, some of these stories are tragic, and some of these stories are simply those that have both good and bad parts. The ups and downs of every day life are merely enhanced by the element of adoption.

Since adoption stories are so widely known, they seem to bring out the opinions of those people who become instant experts on the subject. In the mind of the expert, no opinion or thought is not worth sharing. Of course the listener will benefit from the expert’s wisdom!

This is true unless you are the one impacted by adoption. Unless you are the adoptee. Unless you are the birth parent. Unless you are the adoptive parent. If you are a member of the adoption triad, you are the expert in your own story.

Being the expert in your own story comes with the power to tell that same story in the manner you want it told.

Who gets to hear the story? When do they get to hear it? What elements of the story are important? What pieces of the story are best left untold?

Some people—grandparents and other family members—become a part of the story themselves. They take the supporting roles. Those in supporting roles generally want the best for the main characters, but they may not always understand the decisions being made. These are the people to whom explaining your decisions can be done through dialogue and love. These are the people to whom you can say “We are choosing to have an open adoption because we believe it is best for our child. Our child will always be able to have questions about who they are, where they came from, and why adoption became a part of their life answered.”

Then there are the bit players. The people you see on occasion like friends from high school or acquaintances at church. The information you share with them is less complex. Do they really need to know the hours your spent agonizing over your decision to accept a baby born with substances in their system? Or is it enough to know that your family is changing and you would appreciate their support?

Last on the rung are the extras. The people in line at the grocery store who are clearly transfixed in the difference between your complexion and your child’s. The barista at Starbucks who seems to be wondering why you looked pregnant two months ago but never sees you with a baby. The other mom at the playground who always wants to offer suggestions about discipline. These are the people to whom no explanation is ever needed.

You are the expert in your own story. Tell it in the way that honors your truth. And tell it in the way that respects the adoptee. And remember—the happily ever after is never guaranteed without honesty.