If you want to get better at talking about adoption, your role as a birth mother, and your family as a whole, start a business with your daughter’s mom. Your hand is kind of forced.
But really, it’s been good. And I’m not even talking about the business.
I used to play my birth mother card close to my chest in real life. I didn’t tell people I met about my daughter right away. I waited to feel people out, to create a sense of trust, and then I laid it gently in their lap. It usually went really well. I only occasionally got my heart slammed in the car door by people with small minds.
I don’t really have that option much anymore. Since Dee and I run the business together, I’m asked questions about why my business partner lives in Philadelphia. I’m also asked how I got into selling leggings, and the answer is that my daughter and her mom came to visit and I said, “Feel my legs.”
I tell the story without batting an eyelash. Other people? Well, they sometimes bat eyelashes. It’s kind of funny watching them wrap their heads around what I just said. I’m actually finding great amusement in the process. Most people let it drop and don’t poke or prod further. Most of them want to know more, but simply won’t ask.
I’m an open book though. Even more than I used to be. But only in person. Online, well, things have changed.
Face to face, people want to know the basis of our story. My closest friends ask the deeper questions, know the harder parts of our story as it exists right now. But the rest of the people just want to know how all of this came to be. At a party last week, the hostess came outside afterward and asked me a series of normal, to-be-expected questions about my pregnancy, placement, and our open adoption. She said once, “You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.” I want to. I want people to see my family as valid, valued, and, yes, even normal. So I answer. I talk. I put it out there when I’m not even necessarily asked. It’s a part of my story.
But online? You see, some people online don’t care about the basics. There’s something happening online in the blogosphere, specifically within niche families, in which strangers think they have a right to all the details. If I withhold something, for whatever the reason, people accuse me of only sharing part of the story.
Guess what? I’ve always only shared parts of the story. Ask any writer if they tell the whole story, and they’ll say no. Those who tell you that they do are probably lying. The whole story is boring. Do you really need to know that during a visit we sometimes just sit around and watch Catfish or that we eat waffles and cereal for breakfast? No. Neither do you need to know the parts of the story that are not mine to tell. Neither do you need to know the parts of my story that are mine but that either don’t quite make sense yet or are too triggering for me to address.
When it comes to normal, everyday parenting of my sons, I don’t tell it all here either. They kind of dictate what’s okay to share, what they might not want me to write in this space. I adhere to their rules, their requests. They’re human beings with stories to tell too. Our stories intersect, and every day I learn more about what’s mine and what’s theirs. Every day we grow together.
All of this is to say: I really enjoy being more open about my daughter. I talk about her at will. Those people who balk at our story for their own personal reasons are not my concern. My concern rests with my daughter, her family, my sons, our family, and making sure everyone involved knows they are respected and loved.
My daughter and her mom will be here next week. I’m really excited about it. So are the boys. So is my husband. The dog is probably the most excited, but this is to be expected. I’ve told all my friends and their mothers, who are also often my friends. While I once used to feel anxious about their visits because I “might have to explain things,” I now get excited to tell everyone, “She’s here. She’s really here.”