When Should You Tell Your Child His Birth Story?
A dilemma for some after assisted reproductive technology or adoption
When the truth is accepted and integrated into your family’s life all along, you’ll most likely find that it’s a nonevent that doesn’t really impact you on a daily basis. There are bills to pay and soccer games to play, after all. You’re not sitting around rehashing and relishing in all of the fertility disclosure around you!
Even if you’ve been forthright from the get-go, don’t be modest about your honesty. Be proud of yourself for your truthfulness. There’s a sense of freedom for families who have no skeletons. There’s space to grow in a room that’s not full of elephants.
Spectrum of Secrecy
Of course, some truths are easier to tell than others. When you’re parenting a child who’s a different race from your own, the fact that you adopted her might be obvious. You might not like it one bit when strangers come up to you and ask you where you adopted your daughter from, but this doesn’t break the news to your daughter that she’s Chinese. Likewise, if you’re in a same-sex partnership, the biological facts of your family are “out”; it’s no mystery that there was some creativity involved with her conception! Your child lives with the fact, or at least with a few clues, that she is somehow different.
But what if your infertility “truth” isn’t hard to hide? Will you attempt to hide it?
If you’re part of the 31 percent of adoptive parents who’ve never met the birth parents, you may be tempted to be tight-lipped about the past—or at least to try to gloss over it. Likewise, coming clean about using donor egg or sperm poses a challenging reproductive conundrum. (Just as many wonder if a tree falling in a forest makes a sound if no one’s around to hear, does not discussing your child’s biological background really make a difference?)
Maybe you always believed that you’d tell your child the full story of his birth, but you find that as the years go by, you don’t. The topic never seems to come up; never mind that’s because you never bring it up.
The belief that you’re protecting your child from emotional pain is a major reason why you might be reluctant to let the facts fly. You might be afraid of being rejected by your child. Or maybe you’re just plain busy. Like any other parent, you’re immersed in school, church, and sports activities, and you find that there’s no convenient time to fit the “heavy duty discussion” into your schedule.
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