Full Disclosure

“Slander cannot destroy an honest man – when the flood recedes the rock is there”- Chinese Proverb

“How does adoption affect your life beyond the original, traumatic loss of your child?”, she asked me.

This question runs around my head weekly, sometimes even daily.  Being a survivor of adoption trauma has permeated every aspect of my life. From my marriage to my subsequent children to my career choices and my housing decisions.  The order of magnitude will vary given the circumstance.

The most recent challenge involved hiring a “summer girl”. My children attend school and after care programs full time. Summers can be a challenge and for the past few years I have hired college students as nannies.  It’s worked wonderfully well for us. The boys enjoy it and I enjoy getting to know another young woman. My husband and I hosted au pairs from Europe and beyond for seven years as a choice of childcare. They lived in with us and became members of our family. We have an easy time accepting a new young ladies into our family even if only for the summer time.

But, doing so, always leaves me anxious. Gulp. How do I disclose my Scarlett Letter status? Do I tell her about my daughter? She can easily google me and find out. How much do you disclose to a virtual stranger when you are interviewing them to become and intimate care giver to your children? What do you say? When do you say it? Should you?  Does it really matter? Would someone not care for me and my children because I surrendered my first?

I remember when I told one of our former au pairs about my daughter. She was stunned. Quiet. Not rudely so. Just kind of like that awkward “Gee, I don’t know what to say so I think its best if I don’t say anything at all”.  She has since talked about it with me and she even reads here. I was so nervous when I told her. I want people that I care about to know all of me but you never quite know someone until you take that chance and really do show them all of you. In this case, over time, my friend was mature enough to ponder, discuss, and grow with me on it. And I love her even more for it.

But that very act of telling someone? It’s quite frightening. Are they going to leave me? Brand me again? Judge me? Be horrified? Are they going to give me that adoption-goo about how wonderful I am? What a great selfless thing I did? Or are they going to tell me fairy land stories about their uncles cousins mothers aunt that adopted? Maybe they will go on about their Christian Coalition that went to Godforsaken Country and helped all the orphans by bringing them to the US and branding them as Proud to be American? Are they going to tell me about Angelina Jolie – Womb Raider? Where on the spectrum are they going to fall?

I have many experiences to cause me to question reactions.

AtC was an au pair from Europe. It was obvious within a few weeks that she just wasn’t going to fit with our family. Nothing wrong with her. Nothing wrong with us. Just mismatched expectations. She did not like being rejected. She took it upon herself to google me and discovered my big ol’ Scarlett Letter. She began a smear campaign with the au pair agency. Sent them emails outlining  how horrible I was, what a terrible mother and person I was. LOOK! She gave away her first born child. Surely she cannot be a good host family for au pairs.

AtC was gone from my home shortly after this but her acts, her words, they stung. The adult in me could easily disregard her actions as those of a mean, immature young woman but the mother of loss in me? The girl who still feels branded and bad and wrong and slutty? She was really hurt.

Does it matter? Should it matter? Do other people have to regularly expose intimate emotional details of their life to strangers?  Does telling someone the instant you meet them make you look a little, oh, I don’t know, neurotic, nutty, or a little off kilter?

Is it better to wait and see and then deal with the situation honestly?

That is the approach I took last year.  My son actually decided to tell last years summer girl about his sister he has never met. Kudos to the nanny for asking me the instant I got home and I sure enough, I answered her and we had a brief discussion.

But this year? Ugh. I have taken the same approach again. Its not that I am ashamed. Or hiding. Clearly I am not (you cannot be hiding if you are putting this into a blog). Perhaps I am more avoidant. Perhaps I just don’t want to make a big deal of it.

Perhaps I just don’t know.

3 Thoughts.

  1. Hmmm… I just went through the process of registering so that I could make a comment and have now completely forgotten what I was going to say. Pheww…
    Oh yeah. Lately I’ve been referring to Joy as “my daughter from a previous relationship” to people that don’t know “the full story”. I used to feel compelled to explain away. But now I just let it come out gradually as it will.
    “Yes I was quite young when she was born. Yes my grandson is quite grown up. No the younger children haven’t had a chance to get to know them well.”
    I am so blessed because I have her in my life. I know it is so much harder for you. But I do see you and your daughter are moving gradually closer together and keep you together in my heart.

  2. Yep, Justice! Me too! Took half the afternoon. Somehow, it seemed important at the time now I’m afraid. Like I signed into the CIA.
    Im glad its over with now. I really love to read your posts Suz. No. You are not hiding its been under cover for so long. Bit by bit it came out and each time you were able to gain strength. Moral: I found as I get older! I can say anything I feel like and for some reason people listen without comment. One day you will see, Seniors get away with a lot of crap. We are rebelling, senile imposters. Keep up the great writing. Everyone is leaving they have accomplished their tasks. The river is still muddy water.

  3. justice – sorry about that registering business. some switch got flipped on my preferences. i think i fixed it.

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