How to Tell Your Story Without Word-Vomiting

Over the years, I have learned to gauge the situation and provide varying levels of detail about my adoption experiences.

Sterling Lloyd July 31, 2016
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Over the past few years, I have reduced my basic story down to a couple of quick, sometimes shocking, sentences. When working, I am often asked how many children I have, if I am pregnant with my 1st, or how old I was when I started having kids, etc., and due to the nature of my job, I don’t always have time to give a full story.

“I have older children. A 6-year-old boy, who I placed for adoption—and it is very open, and a wonderful situation—a 4-year-old girl, a 2-year-old boy, and this one on the way is a boy.” This explanation usually shuts people up from saying the dreaded “I’m sorry” in response to placement. It is not something I am sorry about, which is why I throw in that it is a good thing.

“This will be our third, we also have a daughter and a son.” This explanation is my go-to when I gauge that the person asking may want more details if I say something about my birth son. By saying “our” and “we”, I am including my husband in the conversation, and since my birth son is not his child, I am still being truthful.

Because I view my adoption story a something very sacred, I don’t always want to “cast my pearls before swine.” When I first began my journey, I would sometimes get stuck and felt that I had to explain everything and defend my decision. What usually came out was what I call word-vomit. It went something like this -

“When I was 20 I got pregnant, my boyfriend—with whom I had been discussing marriage—decided he wasn’t ready to be a father. I spent months and months praying and trying to decide what to do, and then I met this amazing couple and decided to place my baby for adoption. I would have been an awesome mother—I wasn’t on drugs and I was very stable—but he just deserved more than I could give him at the time. My boyfriend and I didn’t want to necessarily stay in each others’ lives because we were toxic to each other, but we both loved our son. So we have an open adoption and I get to see him and always know he is safe. I absolutely adore his parents, and they have become some of my very best friends—even 2,500 miles away.”

While it is a short and sweet story, this can be a lot of sensitive information to suddenly hear from a stranger!

I used to feel guilty if I didn’t immediately explain about my birth son, or if I intentionally made people believe that I only had the children I was raising. I somehow felt I was being disloyal to him. Now, I realize that it is very much the opposite. I want people who truly care about me to know about him, because they will best honor his existence and understand. People I may never see again don’t always have to know . . . he is a sacred person in my life, and deserves to be spoken of with the utmost respect. Though I am not his mother in the sense that I am raising him, I will still protect him in any way I can.

How do you tell people—or not tell people—about your adoption story?

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Sterling Lloyd

Sterling Bo Lloyd placed her son for adoption in February 2010 and has since been a strong advocate in the adoption community. She is married to her partner in crime, who is convinced that she knows way too many people. They have two children who keep them in a near-constant state of blissful exhaustion. She enjoys dark chocolate, crocheting, Broadway musicals, and barely making deadlines. She can be reached through her blog or email.


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