"Speaking as an adoptee, adoptive parent, and psychologist - here is what I often say to foster/adoptive parents in my workshops:
"I want you to think of something very personal and close to your heart, something you don't share with many people.
And I want you to imagine that when you walked into this room today, everyone knew "that thing" about you.
They knew just from looking at you.
And not only did they know, but they felt that this gave them the right to ask you questions about it, and tell you how to feel or what to think about it, even if they had never experienced it in the way you had.
And this happens over and over and over again, every place you go...How would you feel? What would you want to say? What would you wish for?"
Now you have an idea of what it's like to be a transracial adoptee. Let this sink in. Let this guide your interactions to be more compassionate."
As a mom, I struggle with knowing how much to share about my kids. I tend towards being an open boundaries type person. I tend towards believing that things hidden in the darkness often only oppress us and weigh us down, that there is light and freedom in truth telling.
But where do my kids' stories fit into that? I want them to be proud of who they are and sure of their stories. I want them to not be ashamed or feel less than. I want others to recognize that adoption is a beautiful, hard, messy, beautiful thing. Yet, those things cannot happen at the expense of my kids' privacy and identities. I would never want my children to be known mostly as "adopted from Haiti" or as "former orphans."
Even if people don't see that as the defining characteristics of my kids, there are still moments where people invite themselves into my kids' space with questions about their birth families, about their histories, about the why's and why nots. I don't think anyone means harm; they are mostly just curious and interested in my kids.
Questions and conversations aside, my kids, simply because their skin colors do not match mine, are instantly recognizable as different, as having a part of them, a very personal part of them, that is unique and special. There is no escaping that everyone knows they were adopted. And while I would never want my kids to hide any part of their story, I can certainly understand why there will be moments when they just want to be invisible.