Adopting a child can be one of life’s most overwhelming and rewarding experiences, both for the child and for his or her new parents. Although some people find that the use of social media enhances the joy of this experience, it can also be a complicating factor.
Benefits of Social Media Use During Adoption
- Encouragement and insight. Many people announce their intent to adopt on social media. When your friends and family members learn about your initiative, they can use Facebook and other channels to offer support and advice and analyze decisions.
- Opportunities to connect with available children and other adoption resources. Prospective parents can leverage qualified, vetted social media websites to locate babies or children available for adoption.
- Fundraising opportunities. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter can help would-be adoptive parents raise the funds they need to complete the process. Adoptive parents can also request donations and promote fundraising activities or events.
Potential Problems and Dangers
- Loss of control over information shared with birth parents. Prior to the advent of social media, birth parents only had access to the information contained within your file and any information you provided on your own during an interview. However, if a birth parent can find your profile on social media, he or she may see things you would have rather hidden, such as your political affiliations or evidence of arguments with family members.
- Unwanted contact from birth families. During or after the adoption process, members of your child’s birth family could use social media to maintain contact with you and/or the child. Although birth parents may agree not to use social media in this way when the contract is signed, their families will not bound by such an agreement.
- Privacy concerns. Even in a closed adoption, your child may be able to use social media to connect with his or her birth parents. An article in The Guardian summarized the challenge: “Social media is the latest threat to adoption, with adoption agencies reporting a marked growth in cases of an adopted child – typically a disaffected teenager – finding their birth family in just a few clicks. Birth parents are also using sites such as Facebook and Twitter to try to make contact with offspring taken years before.” The Guardian article also later describes a worst case scenario for such interactions: “when her birth mother appeared ‘virtually’ [on a social networking site] in her bedroom, it hit her hard. She disappeared into a vodka bottle and six years later, she hasn’t come out. She dropped out of education, the adoption broke down completely and she has depression.”
Exercise caution to prevent problems. During the adoption process, adjust the settings on your profiles, so that birth parents can’t see anything you don’t want to share. Never provide any information about your child’s birth family to your social media connections during or after the adoption, as this violates the family’s privacy.
After the adoption is complete, avoid unwanted communications by using strict privacy settings, verifying the identities of all new connections and monitoring your child’s interactions with others on social media.