Not Sharing It

So, I haven’t shared the story of the little boy whose kindergarten class came to witness his adoption finalization, and I will not be sharing it. I think it’s worth unpacking briefly why in hopes that we can all practice some discretion and reflection on adoptee narratives.

Hope and I finalized our adoption by Facetime since the court with jurisdiction was across country. We invited my parents, sisters and a local cousin and his family. We had a little BBQ afterward and shared the time with family. There are some pictures, and although Hope looks happy, I now remember tinges of sadness around the day. I felt it then, but I couldn’t understand why. Now, years later, I appreciate the gravity of the occasion so much more; Hope was leaving a life behind in many ways. While many adults might not have looked at that life fondly, she was with a parent she adored and that’s what mattered to her. She has told me on more than one occasion that she would give anything to have that again. Our finalization day represented that option being completely closed off to her in her mind.

We do acknowledge our family day these days, but in a very, very low-key fashion. It’s hard to know what that young boy will feel in the future with so much public attention on this moment in his life, but I don’t want to be a part of publicizing something that  might result in some really, really complicated feelings as he ages.

I also recognize, now even more than ever as Hope is 18, that at only 5, he can’t consent to having his story publicized. Yes, it’s warm and fuzzy, but it is his story—yes, it is a shared story, one that would have been just as warm and fuzzy if kept private. Take the all the pictures, the videos, make a scrapbook for him to have an remember, but keep the kid off the internet and let him create his narrative.

I’m hardly perfect in what I’ve shared about my and Hope’s life in this space, but there are many, many details that I really try to keep private. Those are the times when I have more vague references or just gloss over information. It’s just not my stuff, and I shouldn’t take stuff that isn’t mine and share it with you. I just shouldn’t. So as much as the story is heartwarming, I just wish it was kept private or even just keep his name private..

And because of this…clipped from the CNN article on the adoption.

Capture

This child didn’t orchestrate this, the adults in his life did. And, again, adorbs that the kiddies showed up and out for their classmate, but be clear that this wasn’t something he initiated. If you watch the interviews, you’ll see him (cute as a button) talk about it, but be clear that it was orchestrated. Sometimes, in this overly socialized world we live in, we just share, share, and share when maybe we should be more judicious. This was the ultimate social media post; I’ve seen it at least a dozen times this week. I just couldn’t share it.

And last, but certainly not least, is he really the only little black boy for miles in Grand Rapids, MI or what? He *is* the racial diversity in his class. He is in an environment that is nice but really homogenous looking. It makes me hope that his parents are taking pains to create extensive and meaningful connections to folks who look like him. His support system is adorable, but there’s no one in it who looks like him. That shook me a bit. I also didn’t want to put that out in the universe either.

So, do I think his adoption day story is lovely?

Sure, but I also appreciate that it’s probably complicated. Even if it’s not complicated, I wish his story wasn’t so public. Yes, it’s feel good, and yes, it may even promote the adoption of children in foster care who need permanent homes. But is that all worth the loss of this child’s private narrative?

I don’t think it is.

I wish the family well. I wish that beautiful child well.

About AdoptiveBlackMom

I'm a single Black professional woman living in the DC area. I adopted a tween daughter 6 years ago, and this blog chronicles my journey. Feel free to contact me at adoptiveblackmom@gmail.com, on Facebook at Adoptive Black Mom, and on Twitter @adoptiveblkmom. ©www.AdoptiveBlackMom.com, 2013-2020. All rights reserved. (Don't copy my ish without credit!) View all posts by AdoptiveBlackMom

5 responses to “Not Sharing It

  • Christina

    Thank you for this insightful perspective! I am a single woman considering adoption. I saw the story and had a split reaction, as you described in your article. Happy for the boy and his new parents, warmed by the cuteness, and a little unsettled by that same cuteness. I know everyone was there with best wishes and positivity but you made me realize where my unsettled feeling came from. I’ve heard that it’s important to remember that while adoption is a huge celebration for the adoptive parents who may have been hoping for this moment for a very long time, it’s really important to remember the pain and heartbreak on the child’s side that drove the moment to happen. Who knows what acknowledgements of that pain were made behind the scenes but that perspective certainly didn’t make it into the media stories. All the best to the boy and his adoptive family.

  • Belladonna Took

    The thing I love about your blog is, it’s YOUR blog. It’s almost entirely about you. Yes, of course Hope is here – but only as seen through your eyes and experienced through your heart. You’ve done an incredible job of respecting her space. Am I curious about her story? Well, yes … To the extent that if ever she decides to blog about it I’ll be among the first to follow. But when I as a white South African grandmother who raised a child solo for 18 years, I’m experiencing the perspective of a black mother who adopted and raised a teenager. I talk about my Hubbit and my Girl Child and others that I care about, but it’s always unapologetically my story. I feel you do the same thing and I love it … Reading about your experience enriches me.

    As for that little boy, I hadn’t heard about him before reading this … but … yeah. Disturbing.

  • Molly

    Thank you for once again for expressing your thoughts, feelings and experience. I struggle with the extra public sharing I see so often about kids adoption days and their stories. I worried how this child would feel down the road. I worried about how it effected his birth family particularly so many details being shared. Regardless of the how’s or why’s adoption became their path it seem like it would have been hard to see it all be so public. (And from what I read the sad or hard side wasn’t even mentioned as part of adoption at all.) But, first thing that struck me about this story was he was the only brown face in his class or even in the court room that day. I hoped his parents do or will very soon understand (and the social works counseling parents) it isn’t just important to have mirrors and community, it is essential to the health of any child and as a family.
    We have been asked a few times to share “our story” publicly by the program agency and others. We haven’t thus far because we can’t think of what we would be okay sharing with the whole world. We worry about how little will process the exposure as they grow, what they might think later in life. We also worry about not representing the full picture the joy and sorrow. Adoption isn’t one day, it isn’t simple, it isn’t one sided, for lots complex reason it is necessary, it is full of all kinds of feelings.

  • Laura

    Thank you for so eloquently explaining why that story flooding FB was bothering me so much. I tweeted something similar when everyone was sharing that little girl’s video talking about when she & her baby sister first met & fell in 💛 with their amom. Discretion, people. Please!

    • AdoptiveBlackMom

      Ugh I hated that one too. The lack of discretion is a real issue and not just for adoption. It’s just all out there and once its gone you can’t pull it back. I wish folks were more thoughtful.

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