October 09, 2009

Boundaries

My own contribution to the privacy roundtable (insert usual disclaimer that these are boundaries I've set for myself personally and not commentary on choices anyone else has made)...

As far as I know, no one I talk to face-to-face--save Todd and online friends I've met in person--knows about this blog. (If you do, please tell me.) I told Kelly and Beth about it a long time ago, without specifics, and both more or less shrugged. One is barely online at all, much less reading blogs. The other is part of a social group that regularly spills its secrets all over the internet, so she didn't really care. I've nicknamed some people and stayed vague about our location to keep away anyone Google-ing our family.

Even though I hide my blog away, I've always written with the assumption that everyone I know will one day read it. Realistically, I know it's highly improbable that everyone will read it. But the fact is that one day someone--probably one of the people I most hope won't--will stumble across it somehow. So I choose to write as if everyone will.

That influences my writing pretty significantly. I've had the experience of discovering blog posts written about me. It stung, and it changed my relationship with the author. To me, there is no sort of public writing worth harming relationships. Especially not relationships with the children's families of origin. I can't quite imagine explaining to them one day that we're estranged from their first family because of a blog.

First, I try not to write about any issue, disappointment or frustration unless the other person is already aware of it. I don't want someone to be completely blindsided.

Second, I try to portray people as generously as I can. I'm keenly aware that I've got a monopoly on this space. It's important to me to write about my children's first families, because I want them to be real people to all of you. So I give folks the benefit of the doubt and then some. Sometimes when I know I've got a lot of emotion surrounding a particular person or interaction, I'll ask Todd to read a post before I publish it, to make sure I'm not being unfair.

Third, I do my best to speak about my kids and their first families, not for them. I try not to make assumptions about what they're thinking, and qualify my words when I do. I use the kids' own words when I'm writing about them processing their adoptions. I don't get into quicksand areas like why Puppy and Firefly were placed. And if I can make my point without using a detail from their lives, then I leave out that bit of information. No one reading here needs to know, for example, the play-by-play of Puppy or Firefly's births. I can write about what those days were like for me without including those things.

Finally, I keep many adoption-related moments, both big and small, happy and difficult, to myself.  The kids are still too little to remember much of this time of their lives. The first time I tell them certain stories, I don't want to know that I shared them with the internet first. Nor do I want them to feel, years from now, that I put the entirety of their adoption stories out for public consumption.

All this means that there are many things I don't share, both good and bad. Right now there is more that you don't know about our open adoptions than you do, simply because I haven't found ways to write about them that feel fair. There are gaping holes on this blog from this past year, especially. Things that have been happening with Firefly's birth father. The effects of Puppy's sister's birth and everything that led up to it. Changes in our relationship with Kelly.

This semi-private space gives me an outlet and means of emotional support in our adoptions that I wouldn't have otherwise. That has been so, so important to me. But assuming it will not always be private means it has not been as catharic or helpful (or interesting) as it possibly could be. That's often deeply frustrating. So many times I've wanted to come here and shake my fist, work through a sadness, or seek advice. I envy people with the guts to write openly and honestly about their lives, with full knowledge of family and friends.  But, for now, that is not me. I can always become more open. It is hard to go the opposite way.

9 comments:

planetnomad said...

I am like you--I assume anyone I write about may read it (including official people connected to my host countries). I change names, and I'm never completely open, although I strive to be completely honest at the same time. Sometimes I long for a real "journal" where I could gripe and wail and gnash my teeth, metaphorically speaking, or even talk about good things that I choose to keep private. But overall, I think the way I'm doing it works best for us.

Leigh said...

I very much relate to this... especially the part about wishing you could write about certain things but holding back. As much as we think it might be sometimes, blogs are not journals if others can read it! Lately, during the first 2 months of my daughter's life, I haven't been blogging much. I say it's b/c I don't have much to share, but really it's b/c most of my thoughts/frustrations have centered around my husband and us adjusting to having a child. He reads my blog religiously - so, no posts!!

cindy psbm said...

Yeah, what you say here explains alot.
I know that I should have written my blog like you write yours.
I have learned the hard way that I have likely been deeply disrespectful.
Thankfully though, my son's adoptive parents seem to have let go of their offense and still remain 'open' to keeping me in my son's life.

Parenthood For Me said...

This a great post. It touches on alot of things I have been thinking about lately regarding my blog. I was very open in the beginning but as my blog grew I made a psuedo name for my son and stopped posting pictures. I also stopped posting about some of my personal experiences for fear of alienting myself from certain friends. I have never said anything bad but I have also expressed feelings on my blog that I could not in real life. I have found that things have become very touchy for me regarding my blog. In the past month I have steered towards post that are less personal and more about health and happiness. I need a break from my life being in the spotlight.

junebug said...

I have to agree with all of this post. I probably don't hide enough information that people wouldn't be able to figure out its me plus the photos but I am very careful about what I say. I have lots of comments just building up in my head because I can't put them in my usual outlet of my blog. I rarely give out my blog address to friends or family. It would be fun to create another blog that several people share but where they can be secret bloggers and share what are probably some pretty darn good blogs that they just can't put out there on their own blogs. Kind of like that post a secret thing. I'm glad I'm not the only one who highly censors herself.

susiebook said...

I do the opposite, assuming that no one in the open adoption relationship will ever read my blog; but if that happened, I think I'd be able to deal with it. Until reading your post, I hadn't realized this, but I think that I might not be as open if I had real rage about the adoption or thought hateful things about my son's parents. As it is, I think it's clear in my writing that I understand that my feelings are about me, and that I love and respect them--so even if they found it, I think it would turn out okay. Thanks for the thought provocation. =)

Heather said...

@junebug - Her Bad Mother created the very sort of anonymous blog you were talking about--have you seen it?

karlindaadoption said...

I know that once I'm actually in an open adoption, I'll be coming back to this post to learn how it should be done!

Bethany said...

Here via Dawn who quoted you--I'm an every so often lurker, but I used to read more frequently a few years ago. I just realized today that I do know you in real life. I'll give your space and not visit again, but I thought I might mention it as others in our social circle might also know.

Bethany of the bald toddler and who blogs at http://www.wavybrains.com

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