Secrecy versus privacy when talking about adoption

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Secrecy versus privacy when talking about adoption

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When people ask me, who should I tell what about my child's adoption. What I say is that we really want to think about how we talk about adoption. It's very important that we don't keep secrets, about anything. If we keep secrets about our child -- Remember, adoption is about our child from their point of view. They are going to assume something is wrong with them. Of course, we don't want them to feel like they are shameful or there is something wrong with them. We want to share about their adoption, occasionally. Remember, it's not everything. We don't have to tell the whole world. When we are thinking about people who matter in the child's world, like their teacher, we want to think about secrecy versus privacy. We don't want to keep secrets, but we do want privacy. For instance, no child is adopted without some kind of trauma occurring early in their life. Teachers, and certainly strangers, do not need to know the details of that trauma. They may need to know that this child is adopted, it might come up in the classroom. We need to make sure we understand that distinction and are careful about that. Give personal history to the owner of personal history; which is the child. People have curiosities sometimes. Sometimes, in school, the child is asked to bring baby pictures to school, and we are going to put baby pictures on the wall and see what everybody looks like and who is who. Imagine if I am the child that was found at 2 1/2 on the side of a bridge. Guess what? I don't have a baby picture. That's going to be a hard exercise for me in school. I would need the teacher to know that exercise would be tough for my child, which means I need to have talked about it. I'm not going to tell them all the details of the trauma.

Watch Video: Secrecy versus privacy when talking about adoption by Beth Hall, ...

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Beth Hall

Director, Pact - An Adoption Alliance

Beth Hall is an adoption educator who co-founded Pact, An Adoption Alliance, which is a multicultural adoption organization dedicated to addressing essential issues affecting adopted children of color. Pact offers lifelong support and placement services for birth and adoptive families with adopted kids of color. A national speaker, she is also the author of numerous articles and a book, Inside Transracial Adoption, which is filled with personal stories, practical suggestions, and theory, and delivers the message that race matters; racism is alive; and families built transracially can develop strong and binding ties. In 2010 she received the Outstanding Practitioner in Adoption Award, from the Adoption Initiative at St. John's University. She currently serves as a contributing author and advisory board member for “Adoption Clubhouse,” a project promoting positive identity in transracially adopted children for the Evan B. Donaldson Institute for Adoption and as an Advisory Board Member for the On Your Feet Foundation, dedicated to supporting birth mothers of adopted children.Commitment to family is a way of life for Beth. She is the white adoptive mom of two young adults: Sofia, a Latina, and James, an African American. Beth grew up a member of an adoptive family—her sister, Barbara, was adopted. She lives in Oakland, California, with her husband and sometimes her adult children, when they are home.

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