I belong to a Facebook group that is not about adoption.* However, one of the women is a prospective adoptive parent who sometimes shares information about her adoption journey. She’s matched with an expectant mom and has fallen prey to one of the very common mistakes PAPs and adoptive parents often make: Oversharing about the expectant/birth parents.
I was once an over-sharer. In fact, if you know me in real life, you might think I’m an over-sharer now. I now pick and choose what I say about my children’s birth parents. However, I wasn’t always that way. Specifically, right after Jackson was born, when anyone would ask about his birthfather, boy howdy did I have some choice words about him. Remember, I never even met the guy. I was just going off of what S told me. Fortunately, I figured out before Jackson turned one that how I talked about his birthfather was important, and that he should know some things before anyone else did, so I stopped sharing anything except, “He’s not in our lives, by his choice.”
What are some examples of oversharing?
- Telling everyone that the expectant/birth parents are drug addicts, prostitutes, or both.
- Telling everyone the expectant/birth parents’ criminal history. I don’t mean just saying, “He/she is in jail,” but saying, “He is in jail for drug dealing” or “She is in jail for prostitution.”
- Telling everyone details about the expectant/birth parents’ children. Even putting names out there, when children are concerned, is oversharing, in my opinion. I use pseudonyms for everyone.
- Posting a picture of the expectant mom’s ultrasound without redacting the personal information on the photo/scan. (Seriously, we all need to know Crystal’s birthdate?) Some people would say posting the ultrasound at all is oversharing, but I think that’s between the expectant parents and the PAPs. I didn’t do it, but I don’t condemn those who do.
- Telling everyone intimate details of the expectant/birth parents’ lives, such as custody hearings, childhood trauma, medical diagnoses, and so on.
- Posting photos of the expectant/birth parents and their families without permission from the people photographed. I got called out for this once, but I did get permission to post a photo of Jackson with his birthmother and aunt, so I could tell the person I did my due diligence.
- Making value judgments about or speculating on events in the expectant/birth parents’ lives. For example, “Well, the birth father probably abused her.”
There’s one standout example of oversharing: a PAP who created a blog and Facebook page with photos and details about the expectant mom with whom she’s matched, and that woman’s children. Monika wrote a post about her. That woman gives all PAPs a bad name.
I think there are some rules of thumb about sharing.
- If you wouldn’t want someone saying it about you, don’t share it.
- If your child doesn’t know, and you don’t want your child to find out about it from someone other than you, don’t share it.
- If it’s a photo, don’t put it on Facebook. There is no privacy for photos on Facebook.
Obviously, there are times when people may need support with a specific situation and may need to share details. I have done that, but in groups that weren’t on Facebook and included people I had known (even if only online) for several years. There’s a line between airing someone’s dirty laundry, and asking for help or support.
* Actually, I belong to many, but only one is applicable here.