Ask AF: My Husband Wants to Keep Adoption “Secret”

"My husband was advised that some adoptive parents 'hide' the adoption process and feign pregnancy on social media for friends and extended family. Has anyone done this?"

Q: My husband and I are beginning to move on from fertility treatments to adoption. He was advised that some adoptive parents “hide” the process and feign pregnancy on social media for friends and extended family. It doesn’t seem necessary to me and I don’t see how I could hide the fact I wasn’t pregnant and end up with a newborn, but has anyone tried this or thought of doing it?

Members of respond:

“It sounds like you’re feeling confused and troubled about what you’ve heard, because it sounds kind of crazy to simulate a pregnancy to conceal an adoption. Go with your feelings here—it’s absolutely a bad idea. Also, welcome to the wonderful world of adoption, where everyone has lots of opinions, some of them pretty out there! (Just like with parenting, actually.) You can get a head start on practicing ignoring the crazy stuff. Find some resources you can trust. If you work with an agency, they can direct you to some reliable reading materials. I like the articles in Adoptive Families.”

“I had a close family friend who’s in his sixties ask me if I was going to pretend I was pregnant when we shared that we planned to adopt. Not only did that feel like the wrong choice to me, ethically, I just wonder how that could work logistically—so many placements happen, or fall through, at the last minute. We wanted to make sure our child was proud of who she was/is and familiar with her history. At the same time, her story is private and not something discussed with strangers. We did not share our adoption with extended family (cousins, great aunts, distant relatives) until after the 30-day probationary placement was up. We didn’t want to have to explain something incredibly personal and painful if my daughter’s first mother changed her mind and decided to parent.”

“If you can’t openly celebrate the adoption, don’t adopt. There is nothing shameful about adopting—or infertility, for that matter. Keeping adoption secret, on the other hand, is bad and will be harmful to the child down the road.”

“I, personally, think there are benefits to not posting on social media. My adoptions weren’t secret in any way, but I didn’t post about the process. Once our child was home, I posted an introduction and said something like, ‘joined our family through adoption.’ If you begin posting on social media (just as if you tell too many people in ‘real life’), expect constant questions and requests for adoption updates. Of course, it depends on the type of person you are, but I didn’t like fielding these requests simply because, for so long, there was just no update to give.”

“There’s a difference between not sharing your adoption journey and faking pregnancy. The second is simply unacceptable. I’ve only heard of that happening in countries where adoption is seen as taboo. I wanted support from friends and family, so we were very open with our journeys. If you’re not telling people, you may not get a lot of unwanted questions, but you can’t get help either. Something to think about.”

“I feel it is a really bad idea try to keep adoption a secret from friends and extended family for several reasons. One, you will be spending a lot of energy living a lie. Two, most people need support through this process. You really want to develop a network of support that is in place before the child arrives home, because you will need it even more when the child is here. You may also find that you meet friends of friends who have adopted. Three, it takes time for many of us to come to terms with adopting. If you hide it and it is suddenly divulged to your family later, it is really not fair to them or to your child. Four, the easiest way to teach a child about adoption is to start from day one with some simplified version of your family’s story. Waiting for the ‘right’ age is much harder on a child. Finally, in learning to be a family formed by adoption before your child comes, you will learn some of what you will have to teach your child…how to deal with being perceived as different and treated harshly due to derogatory stereotypes people have, how to set boundaries, how to talk to others and to your child about adoption, how to form a community where your family and your child are at home, as well as how to embrace diversity.”



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