Picture yourself at church or at a school function, new family member in tow, and all of a sudden the background noise goes silent. Something is amiss—you can’t feel any fresh air on your face and an overwhelming sense of dread washes over you. Then you spot her—you lock eyes and she comes to see your precious angel and with one look you know who she is: The Adoption Vampire. Also known as The Tragedy Succubus, the Bless-Her-Heart Beast and the Nosy Need-to-Know Nightmare, this person latches on to you from the second she hears about your adoption and won’t let go until she has sucked every last detail from your story, your child’s story, and your child’s bio family story—and she only wants to know the gory bits. But what can you do, aside from carrying Holy Water in a spray bottle as you yell “DEMON RELEASE” and drench her miserable hide? Fear not—The Adoption Vampire can be battled in the trenches, and even defeated!
- Prepare ahead of time. Make a plan and decide exactly who gets to know what details in your family’s history. Just like the mailman doesn’t get to hear the back story to your colonoscopy, mere acquaintances don’t get to hear more than surface details.
- Practice deterrent phrases. Try “That experience is still too fresh to share right now” or “That’s not my story to tell yet.” For the most persistent beasts who won’t take “no” for an answer throw around “legalities” like “I think that falls under her privacy rights” or “Can’t say until finalization!” (even if you know you will NEVER say.) One phrase my friend Rebecca finds helpful is “Why do you want to know?” That tends to redirect even the most tireless questioner.
- Keep in mind that old proverb about casting “pearls before swine.” You know which members of your tribe are truly interested in protecting your and your baby’s heart—and you know which ones just want salacious details. Keep an ear out for trigger phrases like “That baby sure is lucky to have YOU” and “Was her mom on drugs?” (Then spray that holy water from a hose and throw some garlic for good measure.)
- Remember that much of the adoption story isn’t really yours to share. Your feelings, hopes, dreams—those are all fine, if you want to talk about what you experienced. But the sadness and struggle of his first parents? That’s not your story. The trauma she experienced in foster care? That’s not yours to spread, either. You can’t un-ring a bell, and if the entire congregation knows every bit of your child’s history, then he or she may have lost the precious little control that they have in this process.
- Remind your family and close friends that loose lips will sink your relationships. If grandma can’t stop talking about how shameful she finds bio-dad’s actions to have been, if Aunt Trish won’t quit sharing private pics on social media, if every one of grandpa’s VA buddies have something to say about the amount of openness you and your child’s parents have chosen, then stand up now and tell them that they are in danger of being moved to the outer circle. Remind them that there are many things that they can share, but that it is in the best interest of your child and her first family that private things stay private.
How have you handled those Adoption Vampires? Are there tips and tricks you can share to help out your fellow monster slayers? Let me know in the comments!