While there remains little doubt in most people’s minds when it comes to whether or not a child ought to be told that she or he was adopted (the consensus points to a resounding yes!), whether or not others should be aware of the child’s adoption status may pose a conundrum.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting several couples who completed their families through various types of adoptions, as part of an infertility retreat my husband and I attended. One mom mentioned as part of her and her husband’s decision-making process that their child had some sort of special needs that needed to be taken into consideration when making the decision to accept the match. However, what those needs were and how they came to their decision were not discussed. Instead, she mentioned that was a part of her son’s story, and that it was up to him whether or not he wanted to share it with others later.

I remember feeling a little confused, like we were being teased with information. I can certainly understand and appreciate respecting the child’s right to tell or not to tell about her or his adoption status and whatever circumstances led to the adoption. However, we were in a venue where adoption was the topic, the child was not present, his adoptive status was already revealed by his parents, but further details were withheld.

If I were considering special needs adoption as I listened to this couple’s story, I would very much be interested in their decision-making process, and the resources they have been able to tap into for the particular needs of their son. Now, if we had just happened to meet at a party, for instance, I would see absolutely no reason for the parents to specify that their child had been adopted, if they felt that this was something that only their son ought to reveal as he sees fit.

And so I wonder now, as I prepare to parent a child not genetically related to my husband and me, which aspect of our journey that finally led us to finding our child is ours to tell, and which part is theirs? Of course, there are a few select people who have been supportive of our journey over the years and who are aware of our special circumstances. I don’t plan to make it an issue, but if it comes up, I also need to be prepared to protect my child’s privacy.

So how much information is too much information to share with strangers? With friends? Relatives?