Saturday, I told my sister-in-law that I placed a baby for adoption. (And maybe my brother-in-law? I really don't know if he was listening or not at the time.)
This is the first member of my husband's side of the family whom I have told. Not because I haven't wanted to tell them, but simply because I've been terrified to do so.
I think sharing my adoption story is getting harder. Or maybe it's just different than it used to be.
When I first placed my son for adoption, everyone around me knew the situation. After all, they'd watched me go through pregnancy. Friends, classmates, professors, ward members...they'd all been around. So even if they didn't know specifics of my situation, at least it didn't feel like I was keeping secrets.
Then I had several years of adoption volunteer work, where I was sharing my adoption experience on a regular basis. But even then, it was mostly strangers whom I was speaking to, or other members of the adoption world. I did not fear their judgment.
But these days? First of all, I work with children and teenagers. I am very conscious of my position as a role model. In four-and-a-half years of working at my studio, I have told one parent about placing my son for adoption, and not a single student. My silence there comes not from fear, but from my desire to be that good example for my students.
My in-laws, though, are something else entirely. Part of me wishes that I had told them (my parents-in-law, at least) while James and I were first engaged. Because at least part of my concern now comes from my fear of disappointing them. I don't want to watch them change the way they look at me. I don't want their opinion of me to lower. It's gotten to a point where I don't even know how I would go about telling them. And so my silence has continued.
Until Saturday, when I blurted it out to my sister-in-law. We were talking about childbirth, how I want to deliver my baby, and she was saying something about how important it was to make my first childbirth experience perfect. And I blurted out that this wasn't my first. My sister-in-law was, understandably, completely stunned. I stammered out a few more details, while she just stared at me. She said she didn't know what to say, and I awkwardly changed the subject.
I feel absolutely no relief, having told her. Maybe it will never come up again. I don't know. But it definitely doesn't make me feel any more confident in having this conversation with, say, my mother-in-law.
However, I have to remember that open adoption is a part of my life. My sons will know each other, even if it's only at a distance. And what happens when my Baby J is talking to his Nona a few years from now, and starts talking about his brother? If I haven't explained my situation well before then, it could lead to some pretty awkward conversations!
I've always believed in openness. Somehow I'm just going to have to get past this part, and make the best of things.