Talking to others about your adoption experience is one of the hardest things about being a birth mom. It’s hard to gauge how someone will receive that piece of information. There are a few different ways to tell people you placed your child for adoption, depending on the situation.

It’s Up to You

First, you do not owe anyone your story. Being a birth mother is not shameful, but it is personal. If you don’t want to tell people about it, you don’t have to. This is your life and your story, and you only need to share it when and with whom you feel comfortable. If someone pushes you to share more than you’d like to, it’s okay to say, “This is really personal; I’d rather not talk about it right now.”

Don’t Be Afraid

When you do feel like you want to tell someone, don’t be afraid. Most people are very kind and understanding. Some of them just need to be educated first. The media has done birth mothers a great disservice in portraying us as drug addicts who simply abandon our babies because we don’t want them. Most people will understand if you explain to them your love for the child, your circumstances at the time (if you feel comfortable), and that you truly felt this was the right choice for your baby.

Let It Happen Naturally

It can be awkward to bring it up, but in my experience the topic usually comes up naturally—for example, if someone asks if I have kids, or if we are talking about things we love and what’s important to us. When the moment feels right, you don’t have to say anything incredibly eloquent. “I had a baby that I placed for adoption” is just fine. Most people will have questions that make a conversation about it a whole lot easier.

Always remember that this is your story and yours alone. You will know when the moment is right to share. Tell it however and to whomever you want to. The choice is yours.