How do you handle privacy issues?

A question from a fellow adoptee: My question for other adoptees is, what have your experiences been as far as “coming out” as adopted is concerned? For instance, I am an adoptee completely estranged from my parents for six years, but a lot of my friends and coworkers did not know anything about my family situation. However, as soon as I changed my name about a year ago, I suddenly was “outed” and found myself having to face all sorts of questions and attention about a part of my life that I had quite successfully kept to myself. Thus, I’m wondering what other adoptees have experienced in this aspect.

5 thoughts on “How do you handle privacy issues?

  1. Daniel, I never kept my adoption a secret, because it was never kept from me. I may not have appreciated the backlash, or the intense, overwrought sorrow of “oh, poor you”; nor did I appreciate the “you are so lucky!”, but those were not my burdens to bear. They below to others. My burden was living as a brown person in a white world, and to explain that, my adoption was the only explanation I had to give, which under many circumstances, wasn’t enough. Again, not my burden to bear. The best thing that ever happened in my life was to gain enough self-confidence and self-worth to begin speaking out about my experience, starting with my thesis that became the book “Mixing Identities through Transracial Adoption” in 2008. I am not angry with my placement. I am frustrated with the idea that we live in such a contentious culture that others have to put value on me through my placement. So I keep reminding myself, again, not my burden to bear. I am who I am, and it had taken me forty years to get to the point of being not just ok, but content with that. May all of us reach that level of self-acceptance.

  2. Yes, indeed. Like you, my hand was previously forced due to the obvious physical difference within the family, and now back in Lebanon, the “foreign” name, the blanks instead of names of parents on my temporary visa. Honestly, I never felt compelled to keep it private; it was much easier to deal with “out in the open”; although I did dread it in the past.

    Now I refer to it as the great “impasse” in conversations; that point where the only thing left for me to say is: “I am adopted”. And like you, I no longer fear that, and actually welcome the possibility of bursting a few myth-bubbles in any ensuing conversation….

  3. While living with those-who-raised-me, it only took one look at the “family” for one to know I did not fit in. The same held true regarding the areas/communities I was raised in. I was immediately “outed”. I think the minister and his wife took a bit of satisfaction in claiming to have A-worded me (that they never went to the trouble of going through legal channels and processes was never mentioned), a poor waif that had a slight overdose of melanin. Today, I derive a certain amount of enjoyment from confronting those who hold mistaken beliefs and assumptions about the A-word with a little bit of reality…

  4. Like you Daniel conversations sometimes get to the point where the only thing that can be said is ‘I was adopted’. I don’t fear it, sometimes I enjoy it and sometimes I feel quite combative about it depending on the was never a secret in my life so that probably helped. I have been told that it is more difficult to come out as an adoptee than as a gay man on more than one occasion.

  5. For me context matters a lot. I don’t often give that piece of information up to someone else it seems to make sense to me (in my ass backwards logic). A lot of the time I don’t say anything even to people who have known me for a while because I don’t really know how to “bring it up” in a nonchalant way that wont somehow turn into this really deep soul emotional conversation which I usually try to avoid.

    Internally, I also consider it a part of myself that people have to pry from me or that I choose to share with them if I decide I can trust them with that vulnerability. Since I never know how someone will react I try to shelter myself from potentially negative or ignorant comments by avoiding bringing it up. I don’t usually lie to people but I certainly find creative ways not to tell people.

    In terms of “coming out” I guess I try not to make it seem like that big of a deal (even though I certainly covet it as a part of my identity in a way that only adds pressure to it). I think it can be hard because people often times don’t know how I feel about being an adoptee, and let’s be honest most days I don’t even know so I’m not faulting them, so when I say that they get very uncomfortable because they are not sure how they are supposed to react which makes me feel like I have to console them or reassure them that I am not all (but probably some) of the negative blown out of proportion stereotypes about adoptees. It mostly just comes down to me deciding if it is worth my own energy to tell someone. If I think them knowing will be a good thing or not. I’m not likely to invest a lot of energy in telling someone I doubt will be a part of my live again than someone who I feel will either develop an understanding or “get it” right off the bat.

    Thanks for writing this it certainly got me thinking (rambling, I suppose).

Adoptees, what do you think? We welcome your replies!

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