Questions!!!!!

(68 Posts)

So I know my new little one has their life info, and it's their info, not mine to share. And I know for those difficult questions I can say that.

People say "So do you know all about their life before they came into care?"

Me verbally "Yes"

Me mentally "Because I am not telling you anything at all!"

But sometimes it is a very innocent sounding question and I am not sure what to do.

"So have they just been in the one foster home?"

"Have they moved around a lot."

Etc etc

How many ways can I say 'I can't say.' and what did you feel you could say??

If you say something totally innocent like 'They have got brown hair.' You are giving away much. I am thinking how much can give away that is OK! Otherwise I look like a nodding smiling doll!!

Ooopse... sorry.. I mean

If you say something totally innocent like 'They have got brown hair.' You are not giving away much. I am thinking how much can I give away that is OK! Otherwise I look like a nodding, smiling doll!!

curiousgeorgie Mon 03-Mar-14 20:32:59

Not knowing about this... Why are you not allowed to talk about it? (With very close family and friends that is.)

Thanks for asking curiousgeorgie. Because the circumstances that led to children being in the looked after care system are the circumstances of their lives. It is their story and when they are older they can choose to share it with people if they wish. If a doctor or other professional needed to know information that would help a child then of course, I would say, a parent will share. But generally people are asking out of idle curiosity, knowing the facts of a child's life will not help them to help the child and may lead to all kind of wrong and unhelpful assumptions on the part of other people.

Also, in the early stages when a person or couple is linked to a child nothing has been finalised so things like their name must be secret because if things do not progress for any reason you don't want people to know your business.

And finally in some cases there may be a security risk for some children that if birth family members knew where they lived they could make life difficult or dangerous for the child. This is not going to be the case for all children who join families by adoption, of course.

Once they come home and live with you then of course lots of things may be topics of conversations like their favourite food and the games they like etc. But I still think you may feel a bit protective about some information. For example if a child had food allergies, or food fads or lived on chicken sandwiches, you may still not want to tell people because they might judge you for not 'sorting out those food problems' etc.

Does that answer your question? I am not yet an adopter so experienced adopters will know a lot more than I do!

bberry Tue 04-Mar-14 07:18:30

I simply say " yes, we know all the details but it's xxxx's storey to share if she wishes when she is older so it's not something I discuss" you can add "all you need to know is that she is our daughter and we love her" depending on person/circumstance .... I find a lot of people almost have an inappropriate curiosity to know the details.....

KristinaM Tue 04-Mar-14 10:22:02

I'm sure you'll understand that we are not allowed to talk about it

That's really his private information , we don't talk about it

Social services have told us we are not allowed to discuss that with anyone

I'm sure you will appreciate it's confidential

If the questioner has a job that requires confidentiality, it's good to use that eg

" since you /your partner /mother is a doctor / lawyer/ teacher/ bank employee /social worker /dentist / nurse I'm sure you'll understand the need for confidentiality /respect his right to privacy "

They don't of course but it's a good tactic,they then have to say " oh yes of course I totally understand. "

I Strongly advise you to tell no one, especially close friends and family. It will become a type of competition

" mum said that you told her all about his foster carer so why won't you tell me ? "

"Susan said you'd shared about his background with her but she couldn't tell me as it confidential. I thought I was your best friend? "

" surely you can trust your own mother /brother "

" we only ask because we love you. "

If you give a few details, it simply whets their appetite for more.say nothing .if you say nothing at all they give up pretty quickly

Do not be lured in by the ones who tell you that their niece etc is adopted and they know all about it and understand .

KristinaM Tue 04-Mar-14 10:29:24

If you are desperate to share information, I suggest to adoptive parents that they share their own information, not their child's.

So by all means,talk about what led you to adoption,infertility and how it feels, previous relationship breakdown or divorces, any mental health problems, depression, counselling, details of all the treatments ,how much it cost,how it affected your marriage, your sex life etc.

assuming that you have your partners permission to discuss this with the person next to you in the queue at the supermarket /someone at toddler group / your mother in law /your best friend /a mum at the school gate

bberry Tue 04-Mar-14 13:13:32

Kristinam grin I like it!

And people will make their own stuff up anyway.... A neighbour told me my dh had told her our dd was a "troubled child".... Erm, he would never tell that to the local gossip and especially as that isn't the case at all!!! She has obviously heard dh say the word trouble in a conversation (car trouble, trouble with foxes etc...) and totally made up her own conversation.....

Yes, my dh asked what his mum was to say if dd asked her about her bp's (read, this is what mil asked to try and leverage out some info under the guise of concern fir dd) I said, she needs to tell her to talk to us, fairly simple to me.... But obv not when you are desperado fir details.....!

CheeryGiraffe Tue 04-Mar-14 14:12:11

I have nothing to add really, but given that we've been looking at profiles recently and our parents have already been asking questions etc. I'll be watching for tips on how to deal with inappropriate nosiness. smile

KristinaM Tue 04-Mar-14 16:41:17

I agree, it's amazing how people feel entitled to ask all sorts of inappropriate questions . It's the daily mail mentality, isn't it? They love to gloat about the misfortunes of others under the guise of sympathy and hand wringing .

We had several relatives who went into a serious strop about not being given the juicy details and stopped speaking to us ( not much of a loss I have to say ) . And we've had others who have made up stuff as well. It's very sad :-(

I take a very hard line on this I know. But ive seen it turn out badly in many cases and it's the child/re who suffer.

I struggle to understand why a member of the extended adoptive family /friend needs to know if a child was removed because of substance abuse, mental health problems, abuse or neglect. Whether they are an only child or one of 6. How long they were in foster care etc etc .

It makes NO difference to how auntie/granny/neighbour should treat that child.

Thanks one and all bbery I now have an image of a fox fixing your car!

I had all the answers in my head but when someone at a dinner party asked me a question about his foster car (a very simple non identifying question) in the form of a statement I simply agreed with her. It was almost like 'He's happy in foster care?' (not quite that simple but almost so) and then I quickly switched into I can't say anything mode.

I think what I will say is "I can't talk about him but I can talk about us... we are clearing out the loft, getting the room ready, blah blah blah until they glaze over!

bberry Wed 05-Mar-14 12:51:49

Good plan greyhound..grin

Yes, Kristina I completely agree that people veil their true intentions under the guise of "understanding" etc etc etc..... They are just nosy really.....

Hels20 Wed 05-Mar-14 13:57:34

Hi Italian - actually, the only piece of information I felt v precious about was why he came into care and how he came into care.

As DH and I envisage having a long term relationship with foster carers - such that foster carers may meet at special events to do with our son, our friends and family - and because DS has pictures of foster carers around him in his room - I don't really have any issue people knowing that he had only one foster family and how many people were in that family. So that is one piece of info I am happy to share. If DS had had multiple foster placements - or even more than one - I might think differently sharing it.

I hadn't realised until reading this thread that some people don't think we should be sharing even foster carers' info. Has made me pause for thought.

KristinaM Wed 05-Mar-14 17:29:08

Hels -I agree it's tricky. Saying

" oh yes, he had a lovely foster carer called Mary who lives in x , we keep In touch with her "

seems harmless enough, I agree.

For me it was fine if the questioner just said " oh that's lovely " or similar and stopped. The problem was when it seemed to give the impression that i wanted to discuss things further, and so they went on

" and how long was he there? Where was he before that? Didn't he have contact with his real mother ? " etc etc

Maybe you are better than me at stopping the conversation when it goes too far. I just found it easier to say

" oh it's a very long story and we will share it all with him when he's older. The important thing is that he's here with us now and he's our son " or some other similar platitude

LastingLight Wed 05-Mar-14 19:22:36

This thread has made me think... I have shared too many details of dd's life with too many people... because it is therapeutic for me to do so. But it's not fair on her and it puts her at risk of hearing things from other people which she hasn't heard from us yet. Nothing I can do about that now, I will just have to be more circumspect in future.

Italiangreyhound I love all these threads you're starting and how widely you are thinking about your adoption and how it's going to work. I think you are going to be awesome at it!

Kewcumber Wed 05-Mar-14 20:59:05

Lasting - we've all (I suspect) over shared particularly in the early days and you do live and learn.

The most difficult thing I have found is what Kristina describes - seemingly innocuous questions that seem impolite to shut down which then gradually expand and you find yourself sucked into a discussion you didn't want.

There's nothing wrong with a polite agreement if you think its just a simple question but be prepared to stop the questionning with a polite but firm "I really can;t get into that kind of detail, though I understand that you're nosy curious"

I tell DS that people will ask questions because they are curious because they don't understand adoption and that there isn't anything wring with them being curious. But I also tell him that the fact they want to know doesn't trump his right to not discuss it.

Lastinglight thank you, you are so kind, what a lovely thing to say about me! I do hope you are right.

KristinaM Wed 05-Mar-14 21:53:13

Some APs treat all nosey questions as if they are a general enquiry about adoption.so if someone asks

" why didn't his birth parents want him? "

They respond " well, children come into care for all sorts of different reasons. I have a book I could lend you about adoption which answers question like that. And if you are thinking of adopting I can recommend my agency ."

They view every nosey question as an opportunity to educate people about adoption. I wish I had their patience smile

crazeekitty Wed 05-Mar-14 22:15:34

Depending what frame of mind I'm in....

"which position did you have sex in last night? Oh, is that too personal?"

"If I tell you then you won't sleep tonight for being upset"

"Poke it up your arse"

"She's British" (in answer to "what's her background"... I deliberately misunderstand)

"quite possibly but who knows?" (in answer to a direct question like was she abused / neglected etc etc)

But generally the catch all is
"she's been passed from pillar to post and needs a stable home"

And on a related note I get so bloody sick of patronising "oh all children do that comments" (in response to behaviour / tantrums / anger outbursts) that I have said "yes but your child doesn't expect his things to be put in a black bin bag ready for the next foster carer when you reach your limit with him"... That made a woman cry the other day and I could not give a flying fuck... She's bloody nosey and thinks she has all the answers.

I hope none of that offends anyone.

holycowwhatnow Wed 05-Mar-14 22:34:13

Our social worker's advice was that noone should know anything about dd before she knows it herself. I find it hard to be rude but I've gotten much better at it over the last couple of years. I just baldly say 'We don't share her personal information with anyone.' And noone has ever pushed it after that! I don't mind general stuff (depending on who's asking) like what country she's from, what age she was when she came etc but any hint of anything personal and I trot out my line.

I did share everything I know about dd with my very lovely sister for fear that if anything ever happened to DH and me that her information wouldn't be lost. But you could tell my sister the third secret of Fatima and know that it was safe with her. grin

I can't be rude to my friends. Maybe that will come with time. Luckily everyone has been quite nice and nothing too intrusive yet!

holycowwhatnow Wed 05-Mar-14 23:03:14

But you don't have to be rude. Most people who ask nosey questions, including your friends, don't understand how intrusive they're being. For your good friends, you could frame it in more flowery language eg 'I'm so overjoyed to have him I'm bursting to talk about him but it's been so drilled into us by SS that we shouldn't that I daren't.'

Kewcumber Wed 05-Mar-14 23:06:38

I hope none of that offends anyone.

I'm sure it will kitty... but I doubt you'll find them on the MN adoption board!

I think the problem is not so much wanting to talk about his story, or not being able to say 'That's private etc' but more being caught off guard!

neolara Wed 05-Mar-14 23:59:20

As someone who has had very little knowledge of adoption, I had absolutely no idea that parents were advised to keep their kids history so private. Before reading this thread I would probably have asked exactly the kind of question that drives you all bonkers. I really didn't get it was such a big deal. I would have done it to show an interest, or to try to understand the situation better.

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