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Telling people versus privacy for LO

(35 Posts)
Rainatnight Sat 31-Dec-16 12:12:56

I'd be really grateful for advice from you wise people. We're going through matching at the moment and I'm likely to be going on adoption leave at end Jan. I've been giving some thought to the issue of telling people.

In general, as far as LO herself goes, we'll follow the principle of 'need to know' basis only. I've learned a lot from reading threads on here, and found Italian in particularly very thoughtful and insightful on this issue. smile

But there are two particular scenarios I'm a bit stuck on.

The first is whether to tell my wider working world that I'm specifically going on adoption leave. I'm reasonably senior in what I do, and have a lot of contacts in other organisations, who will all need to be told I'm going, and what the plans are for my replacement etc. What's worrying me is that if I say to all of them that I'm going on adoption leave, then that's a lot of people who will know that LO is adopted. And while it's obviously not a secret, she may not want so many people knowing when she grows up.

What do you think? I'm really happy to be told I'm over thinking this!

The second is more straightforward. We live on a road in London that's unusually sociable - everyone knows everyone else's business and the community revolves around a particularly corner shop. If we just show up on our street with a baby one day, it will be noticeable! So I think we're obviously going to have to tell everyone, but then again, I worry about LO's privacy.

Thank you for reading if you've got this far in my rambles blush. I'd appreciate any thoughts.

RatherBeIndoors Sat 31-Dec-16 12:35:41

It's a complex one. Our LA operates a peer-buddy scheme for adopters and interestingly, my buddy (who has ten years' experience on me) says she was very open about her child being adopted, and would do the same again. Obviously not ANY details, just a flat statement that X joined the family via adoption, if anyone asked.

I too worry about LO's privacy, but we go to a tiny school where there is no secrecy - my strategy is that I'm very open and matter if fact "yes, that's right" if asked, because my goal is I want it to quickly become a dull non-issue. Also, TBH my child is currently fascinated by their own life story and would tell it to strangers on the bus if not gently distracted by me grin In that scenario I remind LO that we only talk about that at home, which broadly works.

When LO was tiny, the first seeds we dropped about understanding being adopted were "adoption is one of the ways we make a family" aiming to make it no more or less interesting to LO than other ways. I've found if I guide the tone, other people soon stop finding it interesting. And re work, you could say you're taking parental leave if you wanted?

CrazyCatLaydee123 Sat 31-Dec-16 14:20:12

I had it taken out of my hands at work. I am a teacher, and on day of matching panel, the kids in my class were told and introduced to their new teacher, as well as a letter and text gone out to parents, all without consulting me.
Eventually I was sent a copy of the letter, but by this time I had already received an email from a parent, as well as heads-up texts from a couple of colleagues.
I'm still sort of seething. It's done now, and I can't do anything about it, but I would have preferred to a) tell my class myself - some of them were very upset, b) just told parents it was 'parental leave' with no specifics. My children will now be starting school with half the locality knowing they're adopted :/
So, whatever you choose to do, make sure it is your choice!

Hels20 Sat 31-Dec-16 15:02:38

I am also pretty senior at my work but it didn't even cross my mind not to tell people that I was going on adoption leave. I haven't kept it a secret that my DS1 is adopted and wasn't intending to keep it a secret that DS2 is adopted. But I doubt I will be in contact with most of these people in about 5 years time as I will likely have changed my job. I like the fact I am open with people because a handful of people have since confided in me that they are struggling to conceive and one person asked if they could chat to me about adoption. In addition, a couple of work colleagues have since volunteered that they are adopted and it has been interesting talking to them from their perspective as an adoptee...

I keep my work and play very separate.

With regard to my friends - of course I have told everyone (could hardly fake a pregnancy) and again, probably about once every six months I have a friend asking if I could speak to their friend about adoption.

But at DS's school, no one apart from 2 parents knows my DS1 is adopted (he is my miracle child...) although I had to be honest with DS2 because a bit difficult rocking up to the school gates with a 18 month in tow...

No one (including my family) knows anything other than that my children are adopted (i.e. No back story - I just say that their birth parents couldn't look after them) except my best friend who knows everything as she will be their guardian if anything happens to me and DH and I trust her implicitly.

It's ultimately your decision but I am not sure why you wouldn't be open with your work colleagues - unless they are going to come in to a lot of contact with your children and will likely know them when they are older

hookliedandsinkedher Sat 31-Dec-16 16:34:55

I live in a village where people in the shop know your business before you do. There is no privacy. There are huge benefits to growing up in a rural community, but privacy isn't one!

It's obvious LO is adopted. But no one knows why, or more details, except the health visitor who lives in our street. It's about making the news really boring. Once everyone knows something, it's not gossip. If there is no chance of knowing something, people are too lazy to gossip. In a small community, there is always enough gossip to go round, the adoption will quickly get old news!

Italiangreyhound Sat 31-Dec-16 17:17:39

Rainatnight thank you for the mention that is kind.

I am so sorry crazy that is really awful, please complain (nicely) if you have not done so already. It is the only way that employers will start to think!

user1483046088 Sat 31-Dec-16 17:47:09

We're very open about the girls being adopted beacuse we don't want them being ashamed however we don't share any details

If any one try's to find out more we blame the eu

We just say health and safety people buy it and usually say somthing like I know exactly what you mean tell me some story about being hampered by elf n safety them don't mention any more

Italiangreyhound Sat 31-Dec-16 18:12:48

I chose to keep work and private life separate. I work a 30 drive from home so none of my colleagues' kids will live or go to school near to my son.

My only concern was my son feeling, or being treated, differently. There are about 3 in his class whose parents know he is adopted.

rainatnight in your shoes I would talk to your boss and consider whether to call your year of leave 'a sabbatical'.

After I went on adoption leave I did feel slightly uncomfortable that anyone who enquired after me at work would be told I was on adoption leave and it was not necessarily.

I do work with the public and if I had really thought about it I would have done things differently I think.

Hels the reason for me not to be open about this at work (although, personally, I was) is because it is really no one else's business. I don't give a fig what people think of me but I don't need to share my private businesses or 'issues' with anyone.

I can, and do, share about adoption with anyone who wishes to talk about it.

Likewise when we went through extensive and invasive fertility treatment, over many years, I did not tell people at work generally but if I met anyone who would benefit from knowing what I knew (a lot about fertility treatment by that time) I would happily share in private.

rainatnight it is your choice to tell those who you want to tell, and you can ask them not to discuss it. I'd limit my use of the shop until I wanted to be seen with baby. The other thing is people forget. Two people I told early on were later 're-told by me because they had forgotten! Now I only tell when it will benefit our son.

If they know, they know.

I never lie and pretend he is our birth son.

We have a dd who is birth child and was 9 when ds came. So her friends know, but again pretty much everyone seems to forget!

Italiangreyhound Sat 31-Dec-16 18:19:18

user1483046088 'health and safety. That is brilliant!

We talk about adoption at home, ds is not very interested at the moment. I really hope ds is not ashamed of anything. I think it could go either way. If he were met with questions he could not answer this may be unhelpful.

I do think when adopting older children, or siblings, it is probably harder to not talk about it publicly.

Ds was 3 when he came to us. My views were formed in Mumsnet, so blame the big M. wink

Kr1stina Sun 01-Jan-17 08:30:05

We are very private about our children being adopted as we don't want them being ashamed.

Obviously most people will know that you have adopted if you suddenly turn up with a one year old.

Personally I just told clients etc that I was going on maternity leave, as none of them know my children , but I guess it different if you live in a small town.

For me There's a difference between things being secret and private . It's not a secret that our bio children were conceived by sexual intercourse between DH and I , but i don't discuss it with anyone. If anyone asked what position we used or how many times we tried, I wouldn't tell them.

Not because I'm ashamed or because I don't want the kids to know about sex. It's because it's private.

I also distinguish between MY adoption story , which I can tell if I want . And the kids adoption story, which is very strictly theirs and I never tell anyone unless it essential e.g. Medical issues .

I find that the few adopters who blab about their kids background to everyone who will listen are usually very attention seeking and want to appear very charitable and worthy for taking on such a damaged child with a salacious background .

And most people who ask things like " oh so do you know much about his background " < hint hint > are Daily Mail readers who are desperate for a bit of juicy gossip

" her real mother was a prostitute /junkie dontcha know " .

So I don't have much time for it.

Italiangreyhound Sun 01-Jan-17 08:58:28

The thing about telling is you can't untell.

I totally agree with Kristina.

I also think for my little lad explaining why he was adopted would be hard. Adults may (hopefully) respect 'it's private and we don't talk about it.' But kids may not.

In terms of my story, I share it at work because it does not affect my son.I am not so worried about pleasant adults he never sees knowing he is adopted (although I still don't feel the need to tell total strangers).

But it is his peers who I really do not want talkinh about it with him; that is until he feels ready to share, if he chooses to when older.

In the early days I did feel I should tell strangers, and had to stop myself! Like the woman running the pre school forest activity! Maybe I felt I 'owed' people the truth! It was my issue and I needed to come to terms with it.

flapjackfairy Sun 01-Jan-17 10:06:07

I started a thread on this (calling ourselves mum and dad ) a couple of months ago because i struggled with not telling strangers ? Got some great advice and it is becoming more natural now.
As italian says it is sometimes our issue to deal with first.
And happy new yr all x

UnderTheNameOfSanders Sun 01-Jan-17 12:42:19

We have always been quite open about the fact our DDs are adopted, but not the reasons why.

We went and told the neighbours personally so they wouldn't ask questions in front of the DDs when placed (they were 7 and 2 at the time).

DD1 said she wouldn't tell anyone at school until she knew them really well - and told them all on about day 3 smile.

DD1's female classmates all invited to our large celebration after the adoption order went through.
Neither DD has ever been picked on for being adopted, they have had the odd question, but no meanness.

But this approach doesn't suit everyone. No one single right way.

gabsdot Sun 01-Jan-17 14:58:56

We've always been very open about our children being adopted. They're both actually very proud of the fact.
I don't tell randomers in the post office but the school, doctor, speech therapist etc all know as well as friends and family.

In general, as far as LO herself goes, we'll follow the principle of 'need to know' basis only
I'm a bit worried about what you mean by this. Surely your adopted child should know everything you know about their history eventually. Please don't keep anything from them however unpleasant. I learned from an adoption specialist that your child should know everything about their background by the time they are a teenager.

Italiangreyhound Sun 01-Jan-17 15:29:15

gabsdot I completely agree children should know all about themselves, their story etc, in age appropriate language. But I think the need to know comment was about other people only knowing if it was necessary. The whole thread is about other people knowing your children are adopted, not about what the children themselves know.

donquixotedelamancha Sun 01-Jan-17 17:03:24

We were quite open. A large gossipy family meant there was little other choice (other than outright lying- a lot). People will ask about your kids, especially if its your first. Whatever you decide I'd advise you be consistent between circles, and that you agree together what you do and don't want to say in advance.

I strongly support Kristina's point not to reveal your child's personal info. I have said the phrase 'we don't share that information' a lot of times and find people accept it, because I'm open about generalities. People are very nosey, but I see that as (mostly) a positive because adoption is still an unknown to many.

Evilwickedmeanandnasty Sun 01-Jan-17 17:58:26

This is one I'm very interested in! We're being matched with a little 6 year old and he will attend the same school as my 10 year old (who will be finishing in July for Secondary).
Without crashing the thread - can I ask how you would approach explaining to the kids, in a very small village school, where this new brother has come from?!! hmm

UnderTheNameOfSanders Sun 01-Jan-17 18:36:40

X has joined the Evil family and is going to be Y's younger brother.

or in more detail to answer the question why

Some people aren't very good at being parents and can't keep their children safe and well. When that happens the children need to have a new family that can love and look after them properly which is why X is moving to Evil's family. This is called adoption. Like [Miss Honey does with Matilda / Stuart Little / Paddington ]

Kr1stina Sun 01-Jan-17 20:06:35

What Winnie the Pooh said.

And I'd add " we are his mum and dad now and will be for ever. It will be just the same as if I grew him in my tummy /gave birth to him/ we /your mum and dad are yours forever "

( before anyone ask, I do know it's not the same as giving birth, it's just a simple way of explaining permanence )

I'd only give the longer explanation to DS or cousins or DS best friend who asks thoughtfully and politely and not randoms in the class.

FYI Friends of ours have just had a 4yo nephew arrive in the family. Their kids are 14, 11 and 6. So old enough to ask lots of questions you'd think.

In fact they have hardly asked anything at all. They are just so pleased with new little cousin, who is gorgeous. They are more interested in teaching him games on the PS4.

My 11yo is in a sports team. One of their coaches has also just adopted a toddler. I know all the other kids and parents in the team and the only people who are commenting ( in a nice way ) are the parents. The kids have just taken it in their stride and are only interested in picking up this poor toddler and dragging him around at training grin and fighting over who gets to kick a ball to him.

So based on my experience I would say that kids are a lot more accepting and less nosey than adults .

Italiangreyhound Sun 01-Jan-17 20:30:44

Evil ds joined us when dd was 9 so year 4 I think. I am not sure we told anyone specifically at school, except dd's teacher in case her behaviour changed etc.

Dd's friends who came to the house knew we were adoptong and I told their mums/dads we would not be talking about his background . I said if their kids had any questions about adoption in general they could ask me or their own mums/dads - who could ask me.

All the kids took ds in their stride. No child asked a thing that I know of!

One boy 2 years older than dd, whose parents are my good friends kept calling him 'our adopted son' when talking about him to us (very pleasantly). He is a nice lad, I think he is on the spectrum, certainly takes things verry literally and is very bright.

So I just said "he joined us by adoption but we just call him our son. Or Cassius." (not his real name). So the boy started to just say 'your son did this or that" or "Cassius, did this or that."

I would really say less than more, because as the years roll on, three for us this spring since we met ds and he came to love with us) others will just see you as a family unit.

Evilwickedmeanandnasty Mon 02-Jan-17 10:52:47

Under and Italian, thank you!
Italian, you've given me advice before - very much appreciated to hear your sound advice again!
My older boy is SEN and has struggled with bullying at school which is a worry in case it's an opening but things seem to have quietened down in recent months (since my older lad learned to stand up for himself!)
Thanks again, much appreciated!!

Kr1stina Mon 02-Jan-17 11:30:01

If DS 1 has some bullies in his class then he might have to practice some stonewalling answers, rather than the polite and informative answers above.

Such as " why do you need to know ? " . Or " if you have any questions you need to ask my mum /Mrs head Teacher. " ( depends who is more scary ).

There's no excuse for bullying anywhere but especially at small school, angry , I hope they come down on it like a ton of bricks.

loopy79 Mon 02-Jan-17 14:13:00

I have an older daughter who was 9 when we adopted so her friends parents knew. But I thought it was most important for him to have privacy at school. We are completely open talking to him about it at home but only a few people know at his school. I always make sure the teacher knows in case he asks any questions etc. I want him to have the option to tell friends if he wants. He is only 6 at the moment and although I talk to him about it he doesn't really show any interest in his life story etc at the moment.
Regards to work I was completed open I don't think you can really hide it. I had one colegue who wanted to know all the details but I just told her very simply it wasn't my story to tell it was his. She didn't ask again. Everyone has sort of forgotten now at work that he is adopted no one ever asks any more. My close family know his life story as we are very close and they are very involved with him.
If people ask about birth stories etc I am lucky that I know his as I talked to his birth mum about it. So I just say oh yes he was 6lb and was born in the morning and it was a easy labour compared to my first.I am not lying! Just telling people what they want to hear, no one asks much anymore.

Italiangreyhound Mon 02-Jan-17 14:51:30

loopy your story is exactly like mine! Are you me!!! smile

IwantedaSindywardrobe Mon 02-Jan-17 19:52:41

Hi, regular poster here but have NC to avoid outing.

Our AD was placed with us a a toddler, they are 12 now. My professional background is in children's social work. When our AC was placed with us my instinct and experience told me to be as honest as possible with them about their adoption and their history. I've seen the way that secrets and lies create 'bombshells' and can cause all manner of identity issues when children find out that their history is not what they thought it was.

So, from a very early age our AC knew they were adopted. Information was drip fed age appropriately and the issue was never treated like a big deal. I didn't want our AC to think that being adopted was in any way shameful. I stressed that our family circumstances were not secret but are private and that our AC should remember this when choosing who and what to tell.

Unfortunately, kids being kids, they blurted it out to all and sundry. Our AD has diagnosed attachment difficulties and the need to be dramatic in order to seek attention was (still is but to a much smaller degree) a very strong part of their personality. The issue then became the 'thing' that our AC was teased and bullied about at school. It probably started in about year 3 (aged 7) and still persists today in year 8. This is an ongoing issue for them. School intervene when the bullying seems to be on the rise but it can go under the radar for teachers.

I have reconsidered whether or not I should have told my AC about their history so young and wondered if they might have escaped the very personal nature of the bullying had I not told them early on. However I cannot see how else the situation could have been managed without dropping the bombshell in later childhood. So, a conundrum really....

On the other hand our AD (like many adopted children) has emotional delay and at times sticks out like a sore thumb amongst peers so they were often considered by some other kids as a 'bit odd' which is also something bullies can focus on so I think the chances of them experiencing some bullying was probably quite high anyway.

On balance I hope that knowing the truth from early on was the right thing to do, despite the subsequent bullying. I cannot begin to imagine the potential damage to their self-esteem and sense of identity should their history have been shared much later on.

Don't know if that helps or not but our AC seems to be quite a bit older than most of the AC discussed on here and I wanted to share my experience.

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