Full Disclosure vs. Too Much Information

I saw a very strange question on an adoption forum. The asker was a prospective adoptive parent (PAP) writing her profile. She asked:

My husband and I are vegetarians. Should we put that in our profile?

One of the first answers was:

No, don’t put it in your profile, but you do want to make sure you mention it before you match.

And I’m thinking, really? Why?

There are some factors in people’s lives that make them who they are. These are difficult to change. These factors shape a person. For example:

  • Gender
  • Sexual orientation
  • Religion (or lack thereof)
  • Geographical location
  • Profession
  • Level of education (easier to change than the others, but still important)

I absolutely think that all of the information I listed above should be apparent in an adoption profile.

There are other factors in a person’s life that are more philosophical. They are choices one makes for one’s self and one’s family. They may change based on any number of other factors. For example:

  • Eating preferences (vegetarian, vegan, locavore, etc.)
  • Favorite sports teams
  • Hobbies

I think this information may be included in a profile, but may not. I know a friend who included her favorite sports team heavily in her profile, and I know we were pictured wearing our Steelers gear. But I also read an article about someone who didn’t mention her husband’s sports team of choice because it’s an unpopular team, and she didn’t want an expectant mother to reject them just because they were Cowboys fans.

And then, there are the straight up parenting choices:

  • To vaccinate or not to vaccinate?
  • Cry it out, co-sleep, or somewhere in between?
  • Homeschool, public school, private school, unschool?
  • Time outs, spankings, positive discipline, or something else entirely?

I don’t think this information needs to be in a profile. I think if any of that is important to an expectant parent, then he or she will ask about it. If asked, then I think the PAPs need to be truthful, but I don’t think they need to go out of their way to say, “We don’t believe in circumcision” or “We think introducing solids before six months is detrimental to a baby’s intestinal health” or “We don’t eat high fructose corn syrup.”

If it’s important to an expectant parent that her child be allowed to eat other animals, then she can ask, “Are you all vegetarians or something?” I don’t think we need to start putting “non-vaccinating, non-circumcising, cloth diapering, baby wearing, cry it out, organic and local food eating, Montessori preschool believers, who wish we could afford private school but we can’t so we’ll just send the kids to charter schools” or “parenting by the book, schedule keeping, Common Core loving, never met a vaccine we didn’t like, GMOs are the best inventions of the 21st century” in our profile books.

Jackson’s birthmother, S, and I had a conversation about circumcision and vaccination before Jackson was born. She initiated it by asking if we intended to have Jackson circumcised. We did not, and she was glad about that. I took the opportunity to bring up vaccinations. At that point, we were just delaying, but she said she was fine with whatever we decided. The point is, not circumcising was important to her, so she asked the question.

On the other hand, I asked Cassie’s birthmother, Laine, to not do the Hepatitis B vaccine in the hospital. I thought it might open the conversation to vaccinations, and the fact that we don’t do them. However, she just said, “Sure” and immediately changed the subject. Clearly, it was not important to her, at least not enough to ask about at the time. (When Cassie was about six-months old, Laine called right after we had gone to the doctor for a check up. She asked how Cassie did with her shots. I told her we didn’t do them. She asked, “Don’t you have to do them?” I said, “No.”)

I don’t think anyone should hide anything, but I don’t think the impact of one’s vegetarianism on a potential match should keep one up at night. Include what’s important. Include what makes you you. Then let the rest sort itself out. Communicate. Don’t freak out about every little thing. Don’t think up all the reasons someone might not pick you. Finally, in the immortal words of the Genie from Aladdin, “Beeeeee yourself.” Even if you’re a Cowboys fan.

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One thought on “Full Disclosure vs. Too Much Information

  1. One a forum I read occasionally but not a member of…

    An AP was freaking out because she had an semi-open adoption and Halloween was coming, and she hadn’t disclosed that they don’t do secular holidays and expected to be asked for pictures. And of course other AP’s gave her all sorts of ideas on how she could fool the first mother…

    I think she was wrong to not disclose that, perhaps not on her profile, but should have before she matched because secular holidays are pretty big things when a child is growing up to be included, or excluded from. I don’t think with all the stress an expectant mother is going through that she’d even think to ask about secular holidays. I also think based on the way the AP wrote it, they deliberately didn’t tell and banking on that fact.

    Perhaps minor in the long run, but honesty is very important…

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