Her story

January 29, 2013 cl/cp, Nicole 3 Comments

I returned from the Created 4 Care retreat late Sunday night. Wow, my head is spinning with all of the information I took in. I still have a lot to sort out, but one theme that really stuck with me is telling Sunshineʼs story in a way that is respectful and considerate to her. Telling it in a way that is sensitive to her perspective and honors her past. Why had I never given this the thought it deserved? This breakout session really made me think, and Iʼm hoping a post about it might help others too.

Iʼve already messed this up, so I want to do my best to get it right going forward. Itʼs her story. Not my story, but her story. Iʼve always been open to sharing about her referral and what we know about her time in China because I think the details are beautiful. I think the way God weaved her into our family is gorgeous and should be shared. I also want to help other adoptive mamas to understand the adoption process, and I foolishly thought telling her story would do that.

What I didnʼt think about was how sharing those details might make her feel in the future. I didnʼt think about how she might not see those details the same way I do. How the way I shared might undermine the beauty of her being my daughter and make her feel like less than the amazing little person she is. As her mama, that is surely the last thing Iʼd ever want her to feel. I cringe as I think about how easily I have talked about her story. No, I fortunately have not shared the most intimate details. I am thankful I had enough forethought to not do that. But, the details of her time in China, no matter how small, before she came home to us, as well as how she came to us, are hers, not mine or even our family’s.

Even though she is still too young to understand and truly grasp what happened, her story is still her story. I didnʼt think about the fact that sharing would be taking away her ability to tell her own story when she is ready. I didnʼt think about how insensitive it was for me to tell her story without her consent. I didnʼt think about how she might want me to answer questions about her past. I didn’t think that she might prefer to be simply “my daughter,” instead of “my daughter who was adopted from China.” Why didn’t I think about any of this?

Long hours of traveling home gave me long hours to wrestle with all of this. For the first time, I’ve been confronted with my insensitivity. And, it wasn’t easy. In some ways, I feel like I let her down. I owe my daughter an apology and need to ask her for forgiveness as I promise her to put forth my best effort to get it right from now on. I will be more guarded with the details of her past. Because they are the details that make up her past, not mine. She is her own person and deserves to share the way she wants to when she is ready. I want to empower her by giving her the words she needs to share for herself. We will help her learn to tell her own story through books, conversations, and the use of a lifebook so that she can share if she wants to. And if she doesnʼt want to share? Well thatʼs perfectly fine too. Because itʼs her decision, not mine.

3 responses to “Her story”

  1. Kam says:

    I’ve wrestled with this before too and many times have wondered and worried that I share too much. I have told details of our boys stories…and withheld them too. I didn’t post about Gabe’s finding place or include pictures of it but I did share how he was found and taken home with a Christian foster mom. I’ve submitted a post to Stefanie and then asked her not to publish it because I felt that while it may be a help to some other AP’s, it was too personal and not my place to share. So I totally get where you are coming from. I can only hope i haven’t let my boys down in the things I’ve written. What you said is so true, we have no way of knowing how our children will view these details when they are older. And while I hope they are able to do so in a healthy way, you’re right, it should be their own initiative to form their own opinions about their stories. Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. Aus says:

    Good morning all – I actually read this yesterday but wanted to let my thoughts perk and seep for a while until they actually came together.

    I “get” what you are saying – it is her story.

    But (and ain’t there always one?) isn’t it your’s too?

    And isn’t it your families?

    Doesn’t you DH have a “take” on it?

    And what about your other kids – they have a “spin” on it too!

    Does that mean I think every little detail need be told – absolutely not! But family IS about commonality and uniquness both – and so the “dance” between all of that need always be made.

    the way I see it – in particular as the kids are getting older (the older two are 6 and 10) – when I have a “well meaning” ask questions – and the kids are around – I’ll ask them if I can share some of the story! When it comes to talking about their “SN’s” – I ask them if it’s OK if I talk about it. And mostly when ever the girls ask I explain to them that there are lots of people out there who really want to know these things. Some are “just curious” – but for some a positive conversation just might lead to another adoption. Couched that way they love having the stories told and retold. If ever there were advocates for adoption it’s our two adopted daughters! As for our adopted son – well – he’s just too busy being a 5 year old guy to worry about stuff like that! 😉

    I greatly respect your position – and there ARE a great many things I’ve never spoken “outside the family” – but it’s less out of respect for the “ownership” of the story as it is the “individualness” of out child.

    Just thowing it out there to keep the water as muddy as possible – nothing about adoption is simple or clear cut! 😉

    I love the varied and wonderful families that choose to adopt – wow – what a great bunch of folk!

    aus and co.

  3. Lindsey says:

    Thank you for sharing your feelings on this. Like you, it has never occured to me not to share my baby’s story. I tend to over-share information in general and so far this has been no different. We just got matched last Friday and I posted on my blog that I would go into specifics about her special need in a later post because I knew their would be many questions from friends and family. The next day my husband told me pretty much everything you just. He reminded me that our baby is a real person with real feelings and one day when she’s old enough to understand all this, she might not appreciate me sharing her entire life story via the internet. I’m glad he had enough sensitvity to bring this to my attention, because apparently I was lacking in that category!
    I do still feel that some things need to be told in order to encourage and help others who are adopting or thinking of adopting and also to show God’s glory and power through our story. But I now see there’s definitely a fine line…

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