Adoption has changed in so many ways over the last few years, but one of the majors changes have came through social media. As a typical parent, we have to be aware of what our children are doing .
Social media is the latest threat to adoption in today’s society. It can be a great thing when an adoptive child is looking to make contact with the birth family, but the threat comes when they are actually still a child, and a personal boundary has been crossed.
Typically a teenager can find their birth family in just a few clicks. Birth parents are also using social media platforms to make contact. Some birth parents have posted pictures and private information that have gone viral in their search. This can make the child extremely uncomfortable.
The concern is more with children who have been adopted through the public adoption system, as a lot of these children were removed due to neglect or abuse. This is a huge concern. This puts a lot of strain on the adoptive parents and depending on the outcome of the meeting with the birth family a lot of strain on the child.
I use to send photo’s electronically to my daughter’s birth family until I found my personal photos and videos posted on their Facebook. It wasn’t just a picture of my daughter, but a picture of our whole family. Our faces are on a stranger’s wall and I had no control. I could be walking along in the mall and someone could recognize us. I was in Toronto this past summer which is about 2.5 hours away from where we live, and I had a random man ask me if I was from the town of my daughter’s birth family. I immediately knew where he saw me and I was very scared. It just shows how vulnerable we all are when posting personal photos on social media platforms.
When having an open adoption agreement, social media should be addressed, and boundaries need to be established. After going through our experience, we kindly asked the birth family to remove the photos as we were uncomfortable. I did see that the one birth parent removed their photos very quickly, but I also documented that they added the photos back a week later. It really broke the trust and I no longer send the photos electronically. I made photo books instead so they could share with their family but those were also not used with our concerns in mind.
I have heard some amazing stories of birth moms reconnecting with their children and have had positive outcomes, but it really depends on the situation. In our case, there was a reason our daughter was placed into care and adopted. Automatically there is uncertainty of future contact and the effects that social media can be a tool of destruction.
Having honesty will help an adoptive child cope and have a better understanding of the overall situation. You don’t ever want to put down a birth parent, but the child also needs to know and understand that it wasn’t all sunshine and pretty flower moments. Take the curiosity and be honest with your child about their birth family. In the digital world, it’s too easy to get into contact. Hopefully you can set boundaries with the birth family and your child going forward. All parties involved need to consider each other’s privacy.
Social media can be scary in the adoptive world, and there is not a straight path to what works, but setting boundaries is a good way to start.