coming out (part 2)

Thanks again to everyone for their feedback on my post about telling family and friends about our adoption plans. The comments are definitely worth a read, so go back and check them out if you haven’t seen them yet. (Well, only if you want to!) I love how varied the comments were, yet there was also a constant theme that played its way through virtually all of the suggestions.

I realized that I wanted to reply to every single comment posted, but instead of doing that, I’m going to pull out a few of the comments and do some follow-up here. Beware – this is a ridiculously long post. Hey, there’s a reason you never see me doing a Wordless Wednesday. I’m just totally incapable of it!

We waited/are waiting to tell most people until we had/have a referral because there was/will be something more concrete to share…

I really understand this point of view. Right now this adoption still seems pretty hypothetical to us. I can only imagine what it seems like to others who aren’t going through the actual process. When we actually have a referral, we will be able to say more than, “We’re going to adopt an Ethiopian baby – under 12 months old (but up to 18 months at travel), we don’t know which gender, and we don’t know when it will all happen but probably sometime in early 2011.” Instead we will be able to say, “We are adopting an x-month-old baby boy/girl from Ethiopia and we hope to bring him/her home by x month.”

We got a lot of the “Now that you’re adopting, you’re going to get pregnant!” comment…

Yeah. I know this is a major complaint of most prospective adoptive parents – both those who are adopting following difficulties in having biological children and those who chose adoption first. I’ve already received this comment a dozen times, including from at least two doctors. The bottom line is that nobody adopts in hopes that they’ll get pregnant. How ridiculous. And we are not trying to conceive. But, I guess I know that people will say this, so I need to think about what sort of response I will offer. (I like the ones suggested the other day.)

We sort of wish we had waited until a little later because we get a lot of questions about the process and we never really have much to tell people…

I can also relate to this situation. A few of the people we’ve told keep asking, “Oh, do you know about your baby yet?” or things like that, even though we’ve told them 100 times that it’s going to take months and months and even years. So that does get a little frustrating. I think it’s their way of showing interest, though, so I don’t fault them for it.

It can be awkward to bring up…

I think this is what’s tripping me up in a lot of situations. I just really don’t know how to toss the subject in there – it’s such a big announcement and it’s such a foreign concept to many. For example, on occasion we might have dinner with friends we only see a few times a year. In that situation, a friend might ask, “So, what’s new with you?” or “What have you been doing lately?” This would probably be a great time to insert our adoption announcement, since it has been oh-so-consuming over the past couple of months and it’s certainly a major development in our lives, but so far we have generally just offered the standard, “Oh, you know, just keeping busy with work and home projects and such.” And that’s fine – obviously we aren’t ready to share that information with them. But then I feel a little bit odd, because in my head, I’m thinking, “Oh boy, there’s so much new in our lives that I don’t even know where to start…”

Some people don’t know what to say when you tell them about the adoption…

This is another thing I think about a lot. I have definitely learned through our various family-building struggles that people often don’t know what to say when faced with new or unique information. As awkward as we might feel in this conversation, I think the people on the receiving end of the information might feel equally as awkward if they’re unsure of what to say. So, I have actually enjoyed using email as a way to tell some people about our adoption plans. I think email, while certainly less personal, lets people process things a bit and formulate their thoughts instead of putting them on the spot.

It’s hard to control what other people do with the information once they have it…

This is SO true. I’ve already dealt with a bit of the gossip mill. One good friend who knows (and has been actively involved in our process by providing reference letters, etc.) told me recently that another friend asked her if we were adopting. And, while of course my friend didn’t say this, that put her in an odd situation. She said she was saved by some distraction that got them off the subject, but she didn’t know what to say. She didn’t want to make our announcement for us and didn’t know if we wanted others to know at this point. I told her that if it comes up again she can answer freely and then I would follow up with the person. And really, I’d rather people hear the news from us than from others. While of course I trust our friends and family to give good information, you know how that old telephone game goes. By the time it’s been told several times over, some people might hear that we’re adopting a 20-year-old zebra from Mars or something crazy like that!

It’s normal to worry about the adoption not actually happening…

Thank you. I’m glad to know it’s not just me. I guess just with the length of time and the multiple steps involved, it seems possible to me that something might go wrong. Not that I’m focusing on that – I’m really not – but it’s just lingering in the back of my mind because we’ve had some major disappointments and setbacks.

And… Follow your gut!

This was the common thread throughout all of the comments. Everyone was clear that the most important thing is for us to be comfortable when, how, and with whom we share information. We shouldn’t feel pressured or that there’s a right or wrong time, because that’s up to us to decide. And I suppose I already knew that, but it is reassuring to hear it from others who’ve been there/done that. I guess I wanted to make sure we weren’t the only prospective adoptive parents in the entire world who haven’t told everyone we know yet!

So, I’ll talk with Craig about this, but right now, I think our guts are telling us to hold off a while. I do think I will tell a few more people – like the group of friends I mentioned in the other post (and that’s the group where people are starting to talk amongst themselves). But pretty much everyone else can wait.

*****

Also, thanks for the comments and emails yesterday. The people I referred to read this blog and I hope, when they get a chance, they will see that they got support even from people they don’t know.

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5 Responses to coming out (part 2)

  1. DeeDee says:

    Ugh I HATED when people at church would ask me EVERY Sunday especially when I had said so many times it would be at least 6 months before we new anything else…..Our agency gave us numbers on the wait list so at least I had something to report when someone asked…..but it really grated on me when they would oh you haven’t gotten your baby yet? or Where is the baby, you have her now don’t you? Like, uh you saw me LAST WEEK!

  2. I love that blogs can be so helpful – so many people offering their experiences for all of us to learn from. Thank you for processing everyone’s comments and passing along the wisdom to the rest of us!

  3. Kelly Cole says:

    Yeah, I appreciated the summary too. It’s so interesting to hear everyone’s thoughts on the process. Hope it helped you think about your own situation. Sounds like it did.

  4. mkwewer says:

    Grat post! It was really great to read and it’s definitely something I think I will able to apply to our situation when it comes to that point…thanks Kelly!

  5. Christine says:

    This was an awesome post. I love that I got to see your thoughts on some of the comments (especially since I didn’t feel very helpful on part one)

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