What to say, and what not to say: OAB Roundtable #7

Heather has been crazy busy and has just posted the next prompt for this week’s Open Adoption Roundtable. It’s all about privacy vs. blogging your heart out (so to speak):

This round’s topic was suggested by adoptive parent blogger Rebecca: privacy, blogging and open adoption. Figuring out boundaries is difficult when you write about your personal life. Any on-blog mention of family, friends or co-workers risks invading their privacy. Bloggers who write about or post pictures of their children are accused of exploitation. Where is the line between your own experience and other people’s personal lives? What information is yours to share and what rightfully belongs to someone else?

Add the overlapping relationships of open adoption to the mix and you’ve got yourself a potential ethical and personal mess. And yet it’s impossible to talk about one’s open adoption experience without mentioning the people involved. Where do you draw the lines–on your blog and in your personal life–and why? What, if anything, don’t you tell?

Like everything else in my life, I have had a lot of conflicts about this. Privacy is something I’ve thought more about as School Girl gets older. While she’s at school, she’s with a lot of other kids who are also entitled to their privacy. So many of the stories that she brings home, whether they’re cute, disturbing (at least to me as a parent) or something in between, just don’t get written about here. I’m thinking about writing in a blank book to get some of them down/out, at least so that School Girl can have them when she’s older.

Part of the reason why I wanted to blog with a pseudonym – pseudonymous is not the same as anonymous – is that it’s easier to write about topics that some people might immediately recognize and either be hurt or offended by what’s writtten. That was never my intent; even though there are some situations that happened to us during our “pre-adoption experience” that I should be more angry about, and that I should start naming names so that similar things don’t happen to other potential adoptive parents, I can’t bring myself to do it. Plus there’s the little matter of never being sure (even with StatCounter) exactly who’s seeing this blog. I know from certain snide comments that there are parents at School Girl’s school that are reading this (yes, that’s right ladies, I’ve known for quite some time). The only thing I care about is that nothing happens to my family because of what I’ve written. It’s so much more difficult in an open adoption, when there are other people not actually living with you who are directly affected by what you might say. It’s caused me to want to stop blogging altogether several times.

Early on, I wasn’t quite so thoughtful about writing with pseudonyms (the use of first initials for School Girl’s first family counts as pseudonymous). To make a long story short, there were some incidents involving my in-laws during a holiday visit that made me rethink what I would leave up as an archived post and what I would take down (even though being aware that Google never forgets). For over 2 years, I removed some of my original posts from the archives of my first blog, made them all into a .pdf, and printed them out for School Girl when she’s older.

I rarely post pictures of School Girl online, although there are a couple in Twitpic that have fairly low viewed numbers. Sometimes she has appeared as a model for a fiber project, but those posts aren’t viewed very much either. I know I’m being too paranoid about it, and I know I shouldn’t worry, but I do.

I should also say that I’ve used locked posts for a period of time to write about adoption. Mostly about our adoption. It was during a period of time when we were questioning everything we did concerning relationships with other non-immediate family members, and I didn’t really want the whole world to look and judge. I no longer have my adoption posts locked, unless it’s something extremely personal, because I don’t get that many readers. Which has always been fine with me.

I should also say that it’s entirely possible that M, her mother, and members of S’s family are perfectly aware of this blog’s existence and may even be regular readers. I’ve never had the courage to tell them about this; it’s the same reason that the idea of them visiting us at home fills me with panic, which I don’t think needs or deserves further explanation.

It’s so hard to know how much to write about. I’ve never blogged exclusively about adoption, which makes things easier. There have been so many other topics to write about that I have gone for months without a single post about adoption, protected or public. But it’s something that every parent has to decide for themselves.

UPDATE: There were some other reasons for my using a pseudonym. Up until 4 months ago, Evil Dad was a fairly high-level employee of a Giant Mega Telecom Corporation. While he was there, he specifically asked me to not use his name, period. He is no longer working for them. I would never dream of mentioning their name, at least not right now. Please don’t ask if you honestly don’t know.

Also, as you might have been able to tell from my Twitter updates on the sidebar, I do a lot of alluding to things. If it’s really a bad time, I go either very, very cryptic or stop writing altogether.

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