Lilypie Waiting to Adopt tickers

Lilypie Waiting to Adopt tickers

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

When to tell people

Way back when we first started our adoption paperwork, we didn't tell anyone. It was a few months later when we asked our 2 closest friends to write reference letters. They were both thrilled and excited for us. It was easy and exciting to tell them our news, and they both said they were honored to write letters on our behalf.

Connecticut has a weird requirement that 1 reference letter come from a family member. We decided we'd ask my brother and SIL to write a letter for us. For some reason, it was a little more nerve-wracking than to tell our friends.

As an aside, I'm going to tell a funny story about my brother and SIL that made it much easier to tell them about our adoption plans. I'll get back to my original point shortly.  One day last spring, my brother sent me an e-mail in the middle of a weekday. He said, "Is _____ still your phone number? I called and called and no one answered." I wrote back to him right away and said that it was, but I hadn't answered because my phone was upstairs and I was downstairs. He wrote back and said he'd call again in 5 minutes, but he really needed to talk to me. Of course, I spent the next few minutes with my heart pounding, absolutely convinced something was wrong. We don't call each other that much, let alone at 1 PM on a Tuesday. So swirling in my mind was death, divorce, destruction, something awful. 

So the phone rings a few minutes later, and my brother said, "Don't worry. Nothing's wrong." and he proceeded to tell me that the reason for his call is that he and my SIL have just begun the process to adopt! And that their agency requires family information, so he wanted us to help him fill in the paperwork that would pertain to us. 

Always composed, (NOT!) I crack up laughing and say, "Wait, you're adopting?" 
"Yes," my brother said.
"Well no $@$!" I respond, "Us too! And we need your help to fill out our paperwork too!" 

Obviously, we both agreed to fill out paperwork for each other. We laughed, and still laugh that we told each other about our respective adoptions on the same day. I love that that's part of our children's adoption stories. I love that our children will have cousins who were adopted. Even though they'll have very different adoption stories, they'll have adoptions in common when they won't share common DNA and genes.

I'm getting off track though. Back to my original story. So my brother and SIL's agency made them fill out paperwork about each member of their families. They told everyone in their families very early in their process. We didn't. For a long time, we didn't know from where we'd be adopting, and it changed several times before we decided to do a domestic adoption. We didn't want to tell people one thing and then change it shortly thereafter. We knew it would take a long time, we didn't want to answer a lot of questions when the answer was just going to be, "I have no idea. No, really, we don't know." So we didn't tell anyone except our three references.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving, and we told my brothers and my dad. At Christmas we were going to tell Mister's family, but somehow the conversation never happened.

So one side of the family doesn't know, Facebook definitely doesn't know, and any friends outside of those 2 sets of friends who wrote our letters don't know. Or so I thought....

Our old friend who recently reappeared in our lives knows. I told him way back in 2007 that we would adopt someday, and I think he may have understood that to mean that we had started the process back then. Shortly after he and I e-mailed about adoption in 2007, he e-mailed Mister to congratulate him on adopting. Mister was like, "Huh? What?!" So I assume that he probably asked Mister as they've talked more recently, knowing that it was something that we were talking about 3 years ago. He asked Mister last weekend on the phone how it is going and what's next in the process. So he's supportive, he cares, he's happy for us. Which is really how everyone has been that we've told.

No one's said anything rude or annoying or asked intrusive questions. Which is not too surprising, since only about 10 people know, and 5 of the 10 are family! But still. It's all those other people who don't know. I don't really know how to handle them.

I asked some people on an adoption forum once, and so many people said they told early, wished they hadn't told, and had to deal with months or years of annoying questions. Some other people said that they didn't tell at all, not even family, until they were traveling to their child. Some people said they waited until they were home with the baby. No one was mad that they hadn't been told because how could you be mad when you're playing with a baby.

But I can't help feeling like I'm keeping a big secret. It feels weird to tell people now, because really, there hasn't been any news to tell. Yet, I feel like if I tell people when we're matched, or when we're home with a baby, that might be too shocking. I don't know.

I guess if I were pregnant, there'd be all kinds of people  - people we'd tell when we were TTC, people we'd tell early in the pregnancy, people we would tell later, and then people who would just see me and figure it out. Then there would be people we hadn't seen in a long time and they'd see us in a year with a baby.  I get that. The difference is the timeline. If I were pregnant now, while I wouldn't be 100% confident that I'd have a baby born in the fall, I'd have a rough timeline in mind. For this adoption, I have no rough timeline in mind. Maybe sometime within the next 3 years. Maybe. But that's kind of a lame timeline.

So for those of you who have adopted, when did you tell? How did people respond? Have you had unexpected annoying or intrusive questions and comments? Also, if you told some people and not others, how seriously did they guard your secret? I worry that someone might tell someone that I didn't want to.


  1. I've never been through this but as I read your post, I wondered why you haven't revealed. Is it because the conversation never happened and now it's just weird or is it because you felt uneasy for some reason? The answer to that will give you a better picture of how to proceed, I think. There aren't right or wrong answers, just what you're most comfortable with.

    I love the story about your brother and SIL!

  2. I'm not going through the adoption process but I kept my pregnancy a secret for a long time. We didn't tell our friend until I was 21 weeks, parents until I was 24 weeks and some people at work didn't know until I had already had the baby! I also posted nothing on Facebook. I didn't want to deal with annoying questions and unwanted advice, plus I liked that it was something between just my hubby and I. You just have to do what works best for you. And you're right, no one will get upset, they're just exited about having a baby around!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog for ICLW. I wish you the best of luck with the adoption process. I look forward to following your journey :)


  3. We told our parents from the very beginning- partly b/c my dad is my employer and we had to get a reference letter from him and also we didn't want to keep it a secret. I started my blog to help educate my friends and family about the embryo adoption process so pretty much everyone knows. You will always get the stupid and annoying questions and comments. Don't you get the "so when are you going to have kids?" question now? You just have to do what you are comfortable with.

  4. Kelly, I think I haven't told people because it is not likely to be a simple, painless process. We'll likely have to deal with a failed match or two, and I haven't decided if it will be helpful to have my friends know when we're dealing with that grief, thus exposing myself to the questions and comments, or if it would be easier to deal with it on our own, with the exception of family and very close friends.

    The other reason that stands out to me is that we don't really have any answers to people's questions now. We're doing a domestic adoption, so we have no idea when we'll be matched, when the baby will be born, where the baby will be born, how long we'll have to stay there when we go, how long the birthparents will have to change their minds. The people who have asked so far, I tell them that it differs by state, and there are so many different sets of laws that we'll just have to go with it when we find out.

    I do have one very close friend that I'm on the fence about telling. I expect she'd be supportive and happy, but somehow it just hasn't come up yet. And it also feels funny timing-wise to tell her now. We're not just starting, the home study has been finished for a while, we've been waiting already for a month, so it seems weird to bring it up now. But it also seems weird for me to bring it up when we're matched and be like, "Oh, guess what we've been planning for the last year?" I just don't know what to do.

    Laurie, I love the idea of it being a secret. Did anyone guess? Didn't you show before 21 or 24 weeks? Thanks for following along!

  5. hiya! we told our family and close friends when we started and then slowly told other people along the way, making it absolutely public once we had our referral. you're right, the countless questions are SUPER annoying, especially when you don't have answers to them, but, it was also great to have everyone else waiting in anticipation with us. it made it all the more sweet when cb came home and everyone was dying to meet this child they had known about for months :) it'll be different with domestic adoption, for sure, so i'm not sure what i'd do if i was in your shoes!

  6. We told our close family and friends once we started the process. Part of it was because we needed their information and the reference letters, and part of it was just because we wanted their support. Once we were approved, we started telling more people. I made a FB announcement and we were much more open with our decision. I am really glad that we did it that way. It was great to have people's support, plus I figured that who knows who might know someone who is considering placing a baby for adoption. Granted, we received a few odd questions, but for the most part, everyone was SO supportive and interested in what was going on. It was fun to be able to be excited about expanding our family with other people. It also helped because we had such short notice that we were getting a baby. I think it might have made things a little more crazy if we hadn't told anybody until we were matched, and we definitely needed their support and help then.

  7. It's so funny that you've written this post... I am in the very early stages of the foster parent / adoption process (I'm becoming a foster mom with hopes to either adopt from foster care or do an independent adoption). I kept my struggles with infertility fairly quiet - close friends & family know but beyond that it's not been something I disclose. Then I decided to move onto adoption & went back and forth with how to handle that. I ultimately decided to write a letter to a large group of people in my circle, including those who have absolutely no idea that I was TTC. Within the letter I explained my TTC/IF history and that I'm moving onto fostering & adoption. I figured that if I were to have gotten pregnant people would find out and have time to adjust to the idea but fostering & even adoption can be a long process or in some cases a very quick turn around. Ultimately I thought that it would be better for friends & family to begin getting use to the idea so it's not a shock down the road. I haven't sent out the letters or emails yet but those that I've told have been nothing but supportive - thankfully! One other thing that I included in the letter was that while I was choosing to be more public with my adoption journey than I was with my TTC/IF journey, it is still a very personal matter & I would appreciate discretion when talking about it.

    I hope your adoption journey is quick and that you'll have a little one to show off very soon!

    I'll be following along!


  8. That's a lot of questions to answer in that last paragraph. I will do the best I can with the time I've got. We told family when our profile went online for people to look at. A lot of success in getting a match is through word of mouth. So we wrote a letter to family explaining this so if they wanted to tell people they could. I don't know that they did. I never really asked them. Some close friends (reference letter writers mostly) were aware. And then we were working up the courage to spread the word and brace ourselves for the barrage of questions that might come for who knows how long, when we were matched. We told our family and close friends and asked them to keep quiet. Right before the adoption I told my work people. Asked them not to mention anything on FB. There was a little leakage on FB. One family member and a few friends. Some people just don't get it. I deleted posts and asked them as kindly as possible not to write anything on FB. Then when we brought our baby home we surprised a lot of people. It was fun.

  9. Hello, I found your blog when searching for bloggers in CT that write about adoption. I am the owner of a CT small business. It is a children's store located in Bridgeport that sells new and gently used clothing and other necessities. ( We have a very unique clothing swap program that saves families hundreds of dollars by allowing them to swap in the things the children have outgrown for what they need now. I became a approved vendor for DCF in Dec of 2010. It has been brought to my attention by a customer who has two adopted children, that our state gives vouchers to foster and adoptive parents when they place a child in their care. Whether you conceive biologically or adopt, it up to you and your husband as to how you give info. The reality is many people will have unwanted questions or advice (often unsolicited) whenever you share personal info. Take it all with a grain of salt. Best of luck with a smooth adoption process! Thank you for sharing your story.