I couldn't agree more! As you can tell, I'm a "sharer!" Zoe definitely goes through phases with the sharing/not sharing thing, but tends to be more willing to share than I know Sydney is. Not only do different kids have different reactions to it, but even ONE kid can have different reactions to it! We talked about this blog, and whether it was OK for me to share her story, and she approved it. But she will also say sometimes that she doesn't want to share something, so I don't!
A great book to help empower both sharing and not sharing is WISE UP. It tells kids they have a choice about how to respond to questions they might find intrusive. They can:
- Walk away
- Ignore it
- Share about their adoption story
- Educate with true facts about adoption
Zoe and Maya attended a Chinese Heritage Camp this summer, and the curriculum included a WISE UP session. Zoe was telling me all about it afterwards, and I asked, "So what would you say if someone said -- 'That's not your real mom, she doesn't look like you'?"
Zoe's answer, "I'd say, yes she is my mother. But I also have another mother in China but she couldn't take care of me the way she wanted to, so she put me in a box so I wouldn't have to marry a boy and work for him." Huh?! (When I explained about the 1 child policy, social preference for boys thing, I explained that boys take care of their parents in their old age, but girls are expected to take care of their husbands' parents. I think she got it kind of mixed up with a book I got her to read for Women's History Month called, "If You Lived When Women Got Their Rights (yes, I'm raising a feminist!)." She was pretty incensed about the idea of a wife having to work for her husband and not having her own money. In fact, she asked me if Mimi had to work for Grandpa -- I explained that the book was talking about a long, long. time ago -- so when her great-grandfather died she asked if it meant that Alice, his wife who died before him, would now have to go back to working for him now that they were both in heaven!)
So Zoe's WISE UP answer was definitely SHARE! And maybe sharing more than the questioner expected! She shared the circumstances of her finding with a non-adopted friend (the put-in-a-box thing, which is for some reason a resonant fact for Zoe), who then shared it with her mother. Sure enough, I got a phone call from that mom! She was OK with her daughter getting a dose of the real world, but her husband wasn't thrilled.
I'm actually the one who introduced the idea that her adoption story was private, not Zoe! In kindergarten, she took the photo album from Maya's adoption trip to school for show-and-tell. We carefully marked with post-its the photos to show -- Zoe at the Great Wall, meeting her sister for the first time, etc. Zoe decided to share ALL of it: "And here's Maya's foster mom. . ." and then explained to the whole class the difference between a birthmom, a foster mom, and a forever mom (yes, I definitely heard about it from her teacher!). I could just imagine the dinner table conversations that night, and all these parents trying to untangle all of this for their kindergartners, and going, "Gee, thanks, lady!"