Upon having a discussion with some other birth moms I've met online over the past year or so, I started to wonder about all of the different ways we can honor our birth children (or just plain ol' "children," as I prefer to call them). Of course each adoption story is different, as is every birth parent - child relationship. While we are all proud of our children, whether we are raising them or not parenting them, some are much more open than others. Birth parents, how open are you about your story? Your child's story? Personally, I am very open but only once I am comfortable with a person or people. I don't walk down the sidewalk holding a sign, but I also don't hide it from anyone, either. My closest friends know almost every detail - of course some information is kept sacred as it is between myself and her adoptive mom or it is more my daughter's "story" than mine, but I proudly will tell my story to anyone who asks. Some acquaintances at work know that I had a child (her photo is in a frame on my desk) and will comment on how cute she is, but we don't start a discussion, so I leave it at a simple 'thank you,' rather than diving head-first into a conversation that could prove awkward for both of us. Others have asked questions about her that I am able to answer, but don't feel right doing so. Sure, I can tell you her first word, her favorite food, what her favorite toy is and when she got her first tooth, but I feel as if I am lying if I answer these questions as if I have witnessed them first-hand.
The point I am trying to make here is: whether or not we honor or acknowledge our children publicly or privately, we can still be proud of them just the same. My post tonight may seem all over the place - which it very well may be! These gears started spinning in my head last week when someone asked me what my tattoo on my foot said. If a passerby happens to ask me while I'm, say, out shopping or something, I will just tell them it's my daughter's birthday (which is true). They usually say "oh," and leave it at that. (It is a tattoo of my daughter's birthday - however it also has the words "always in my heart" scrolled above it). Last week, a coworker was looking (and looking, and looking, and looking) at it, until she finally asked me what it said. She asked in a tone that also implied that she wanted to not only know what it said, but what it meant. I replied that it was my daughter's birth date, and told her what it said. She looked at me with a very shocked look in her eyes and asked me what happened, and if she was okay. I told her yes with a smile on my face and told her that her birth father and I chose to place her for adoption. I then waited for the shocked expression to continue, but instead, she softened up completely and started asking me all sorts of questions - not out of nosiness, but out of genuine interest. She told me she had a cousin who was adopted at birth and she always wondered what it would be like to get a birth mom's perspective on adoption. We ended up having a great conversation, and I felt as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders - finally I was being myself around co-workers.
So, I may have veered off topic a little, but my point was this: whether we have tattoos publicly displaying our children or we haven't told anyone in our families that we got pregnant, carried a child, and then placed that child for adoption, we all still love our children with all our hearts. (Well, I think I can speak for the majority of birth moms, and hopefully ALL). I have heard and read many birth moms, who also parent children, wonder how many children they should say they have if asked. Do they say one, as they are parenting one? Or do they say two, as they have placed one and parented another? I believe you should do whatever you feel is right in your heart, and whatever the time and circumstance allows.
Birth moms and birth dads: how do you handle situations like this? How do you answer when you are asked if you have children?, how many?, how old?, etc.?