Archive for February, 2017

Finding Your Birth Parents on Facebook: 4 Considerations for Adoptees

Social media use is quickly becoming the normal method of contact for many teens and young adults. In fact, over 70 percent of American teens today are active Facebook users. Most likely, you are too.

You may use Facebook as a way to keep in touch with friends and family at long distances. You may have a Twitter or Instagram account to keep tabs on others, as well. You may even use Snapchat to get quick, real-time updates from your closest friends. If you are reading this blog, however, you may have used (or thought about using) social media for an additional reason, as well. If you are here, you may be looking to find and connect with your birth family online.

You are not alone. Today, three out of four adoptees use the Internet or social media to search for birth family members. So many, in fact, that “find birth parents” is typed into Google approximately 1,600 times per month.

Search is an exciting and complicated process. As an adoptee, you have likely been thinking about it for many years now. You may have known your adoption story since you were young, hearing your birth mother’s name over the years or looking at pictures from the day you were born. You may have held that name or date closely for years; only now, you want to act. You want to type that name into Facebook and hit Search.

It is important to remember that Search is also an unpredictable process – especially when it happens online. It takes time and patience to be successful, and should not be done impetuously or alone. As safe as you may feel behind the screen, there are always risks of searching online. There are many complexities, many intricacies, that are involved in the process. A lot of emotional investment is made in the adoption search. False promises and impulse decisions are often made, as well.

So, before you dive into your computer screen to start your birth parent search, know that there are certain steps you should take and precautions you should consider before beginning the process. As an open adoption agency with a thriving Search and Reunion program, Adoptions With Love knows this firsthand. We have compiled below some of the most important considerations to keep in mind as you start looking to find your birth parents online.

  1. Properly prepare for the search.

The world of social media can expose you to new, unexpected aspects of another person’s day to day life. Just from looking at a single Facebook profile, you can learn a lot about who a person is, what they look like, and what they like to do. In many ways, this can be a positive experience. As an adoptee, you can get to know and connect with your birth family easily and in real-time through social channels.

Other times, however, this overload of new information can be overwhelming. The Internet can show you things you did not want to know and did not intend to know about your biological family.

With that said, one of the most important things to consider before searching online is your level of readiness.  If you are not in an open adoption arrangement, it is crucial that you emotionally prepare for any potential outcomes of the search. You may discover things you did not intend to know about your birth family. You may be disappointed or hurt by what you do or do not find.

You may also be disappointed with the outcome of your search. While some birth parents are willing to connect, there is always the possibility that they will not agree to further contact with you.  This may simply be because they are not ready to connect. Remember, adoption relationships are sensitive and this one may take time.

  1. Get your parents involved in the process.

As much as you love your adoptive parents, as happy as you are with your life, it is normal to feel a longing to meet your birth family. Your birth family is a crucial part of your identity and may hold a great piece of your heart. Your parents know how important this is to you. And most likely, they will support you throughout the search and reunion process. As you consider searching for your birth family online, get your parents involved. In the end, they want what is the best for you, and getting to know yourself and your story is one of the best things you can do.

  1. Talk to an adoption counselor.

Adoptions With Love strongly discourages adoptive families and adopted persons from contacting birth family members (for the first time) on Facebook alone. In our thirty years of experience, we have found that the most lasting, successful relationships start with premeditated, mediated contact between all parties involved. As you begin your search, we highly recommend that you contact an adoption professional to help you navigate the process. Together, you can prepare emotionally and mentally for the possible outcomes. All the while, your counselor can help mediate the contact and work on getting the most successful response from your birth family relatives.

  1. Set limitations and pace yourself as you begin to establish contact.

Search and reunion is undoubtedly exciting. Right now, you may be very eager to make contact or jump into a relationship with a birth family member. As much as you want to dive in, it is important to set limits for yourself and everyone who will be involved with this communication. At the very beginning of your online adoption search, sit down with your adoption counselor and your parents and discuss which rules and limitations will make for the most successful, long-term, respectful relationships with your birth family.

Remember that adoption relationships are sensitive and can get very emotional at times. Setting limits will keep everyone, including you, from getting overwhelmed. They will make it so that, if you are ever uncomfortable with the amount of contact, you will recognize when it is time to take a step back and breathe.

Time and patience are key to any relationship, especially among the adoption triad. If you have plans to connect with your birth family, set certain boundaries to keep contact at a slow pace. There should be sufficient time between your initial contact with your birth family and the actual meeting, so that you both can get to know one another and get accustomed to the idea.

Social media offers a powerful advantage for staying in touch with distant friends and family. When used with consideration and caution, it can be a very positive tool for open adoption arrangements. But for many adoptees in closed adoption plans, its benefits are often outweighed by more challenging experiences. Before using social media as part of your own adoption journey, be sure to educate yourself on the risks of this venture. To ensure that you follow the right steps in finding your birth parents online, reach out to a trusted adoption professional for guidance.

You can always contact Adoptions With Love for help by calling 800-722-7731 or texting us confidentially at 617-777-0072. For more information on the social media search, you may also download our free eBook below.

adoption and social media


My Adoption Journey Does Not Define Me; It Inspires Me [Erica’s Story]

post-adoption birthmother storyUnplanned pregnancy can be one of the most momentous experiences of a young woman’s life.  It is an emotional, often overwhelming event for all those who are touched by it.  In the same token, the choice to place your baby for adoption is a life-altering one.  Adoption is the beginning of a lifelong journey, full of both love and loss, and can change a young woman’s life forever.  But this does not mean she has to be defined by it.  Adoption and unplanned pregnancy do not have to define a person, but they can inspire a person.  Here is one birth mother’s story about finding herself – and positively defining herself – after her son’s adoption.

A few months prior to getting pregnant, I was in a toxic relationship with a different man… someone I should have never even gotten involved with in the first place.  He was older, more experienced, had a past with addiction, did not value life the same way I did, lacked motivation and self-confidence, and held onto previous relationships (literally bringing them into the next one with him).  He addressed to me from the start that he was not looking for anything serious and felt he was not a good guy for me.  I swept all the red flags under the rug, and was blinded by his sense of humor and our effortless friendship that I let myself fall… and I let myself fall hard.  All the red flags aside, we had a special connection and chemistry that I never had with someone before which is why I continued to spend every waking minute with him.

Long story short, I found out that he was still seeing the woman from his past relationship.  I could not believe it.  I ended all things right there on the spot and we never spoke again.  My heart ached and I could not understand how someone I had fallen in love with did not reciprocate the same feelings for me; not only that, how could someone I loved have no problem disrespecting and hurting me so much.

A few months went by and I was still heart broken.  A night out lead to me running into an ex-boyfriend from college and I am sure you know the rest.  Fast forward to 6 months after my run-in, and I was in the hospital with a nurse telling me the pain in my back was due to the fact that I was 6 months pregnant.

Talk about shock. I was devastated and confused.  Here I was pregnant with my college ex boyfriend’s child, while still in love with a man who never even gave me his heart.

I shared the news of my pregnancy immediately after I found out with my college ex-boyfriend. Our relationship back in the day ended on a rough patch, too (shocking, I know… *eye roll*).  He was NOT the guy I pictured in my dreams of raising a family and not the guy in my dreams being a role model for my children as a father, but also a loving husband.  All that aside, I still felt he had every right to know about and be involved in my pregnancy as I did.  This was his child, too.

He told me he wanted no role in this pregnancy or raising a baby, and took it even further to say that this baby was not his.  If he wanted to play that game I had no problem looking him in the eye and saying “BYE” forever.

I was not going to let his words beat me down further or be any sort of distraction, because I had a baby I needed to look out for.  He proved to me, again, that he is not the man I thought he was.  His foolish comments and cowardice actually made it easier for me to drop him behind and continue on this journey alone– figuring out how I would give my son the best life possible.

I think one of the hardest parts of my pregnancy was feeling so alone.  Knowing I was pregnant by a man I had no feelings for, while the guy I actually loved and cared about had no idea what I was going through and was about to go through.  It drove me insane.  THEN on top of that WHY was I still having feelings for such a low life loser when my life was in complete shambles?!

It took me to such a low place of insecurity and self-hate.  I hated the way I looked, hated the way I felt, and felt like such a terrible person that I was pregnant even in the first place.  I spent the remainder of my pregnancy beating myself up and believing that I was not worthy of any type of love.  I even avoided seeing my friends and family because I was so disgusted with myself and did not want any kind of attention.

I would wake up (if I even slept through the night) throw on a frumpy dress, go to work and sit at my desk while my mind wandered all day into outer space.  I pretended to work while texting with my mom all day to keep my sanity.  I could not even fathom the possibility I could potentially have an even bigger broken heart after my son would be born.  Through my self-hate and insecurities, the only thing I felt so strongly about was the love I already had for my son and the life I wanted to give him.  I fell in love with the couple who were going to be his parents, and I trusted the relationship and the open adoption plan we agreed on.  I felt so content with my son’s plan and that God was leading this relationship in the right direction.

I’m embarrassed to admit the majority of my fears were internal… fears for myself and not my son; that I would never be loved, and that I would never find someone who would respect and love me back.

After my son was born I felt the most love I had ever felt in my life. The second I held him up to my chest I could feel this was the biggest gift of love God has ever given me.  I was still going to go through with my adoption plan, because although I could not explain it, it felt right. I felt like all those who had come into my life through my pregnancy (new friends, old friends, close family, distant family, my son’s adoptive parents, doctors, nurses, and social workers) God was telling me Erica, this is the kind of love you deserve, and this is the kind of love I want to be in your life.

By no means was I down a dark path before getting pregnant, but I accepted being treated a certain way, and I accepted just existing rather than fully living to my greatest potential.

I did not demand the best things possible in my life.  I was okay with going to work every day doing something I did not love and keeping a job that did not bring out the best qualities in me.  I was okay with living in a part of the city that did not fit my needs.  I accepted relationships that did not demand communication, loyalty, respect, and love.

When my son was born my life completely changed (as you can imagine).  I got a taste of the sweet life and the life I wanted for my future.  I was able to take a step back and look at my life in a way I would never have been able to if I had not gone through this experience.  It took me living through a full year of my son’s life, where I still only existed and did not fully live up to my potential, to make a change.  I knew deep down what I deserved but was fighting with myself on when it would be appropriate to start demanding it.

The month my son turned one I finally felt ready.  I woke up one morning and decided I had made it through the first year of his life which meant I could do anything!  It was MY time to make changes.  I realized I was never truly living; I was not even living before my pregnancy, and it took this experience to wake me up and show me the kind of life I need and want to live.

I could not keep going to my God-awful desk job to sit and be miserable, when I could go into a career where I would instead make a difference in the world.  I had just gone through the most challenging experience of my life and believed I went through all of it to come to a realization as to what my purpose in life is.

I believe I am meant to be a part of adoption in some capacity.  I cannot say enough about the nurses I dealt with through my pregnancy and the imprint they left on my heart.  My adoption journey opened my eyes in more ways than one.  It made me want to be to someone else who the nurses and hospital staff were to me during the most vulnerable time of my life.

I built up the courage to quit my full time job and take every prerequisite needed to apply to nursing school.  I had only three months to take 6 classes, two labs, and apply to the program, in order to start the following spring.  I started nannying, bar tending, blogging, dog walking, dog sitting; doing ANY job I could get my hands on to still pay my bills while I worked towards this new life; a life after adoption.

A few weeks ago all my hard work paid off when I got an email from admissions.  I was only able to read the first word in the first sentence, “Congratulations”, before I fell to my knees in thanks.

During these past two years I have learned so much about myself.  I know the kind of life I want to live and the legacy I want to leave behind as an example for my son and future children.  It is an amazing feeling to see things fall in place all because I decided to follow my heart, stop just existing and start demanding greatness in all aspects of my life.

Through the amazing open relationship I have with my son and his parents, my post-adoption support network, all the positive, likeminded people I have surrounded myself with, and the goals I have for my future, I am able to overcome my self-doubt and finally start living.

I am not defined by getting pregnant, I am not defined by my adoption story, I am not defined by my past relationships, and I am not defined by my post-baby body.  I am defined by my heart and the ability I have to love, and let me tell you, that is my greatest and strongest quality.

 

This is a True Birthmother Account Written by Erica.


Navigating Social Media Post-Adoption: Tips for Birth Parents

Social has had a profound and powerful impact on adoption relationships over the years.  Today, social media offers birth parents and adoptive families an easily accessible avenue for sharing information. Today, you can receive real-time updates from your child’s adoptive family, view pictures of your child as he or she grows, and chat with your child at the click of a button. You can stay connected even when far away.

This type of accessibility and contact was not available to birth parents years ago. In the past, adoptions were primarily closed. Birth parents could not keep in touch with their child’s adoptive family over the years. They did not receive letters or photos to give them some peace of mind. They did not even have the option to choose an adoptive family or meet them in person.

Today, over 95 percent of adoptions are open plans, meaning that contact between the adoption triad exists in some shape or form. Birth parents can now keep contact with their child’s adoptive family through letters and pictures, phone conversations and texting, email and Skype, Facebook and other social media platforms.

As an open adoption agency, Adoptions With Love has helped birth parents all over the country maintain connections with their child and their child’s adoptive family over the years. We can also help you to create and navigate an open adoption plan.

Whether you are in the midst of making an adoption plan or have already placed your baby with an adoptive family, it is never too early or too late to start thinking about social media: What role will it play in your adoption plan? Will you be in contact with your child’s family online? If not, how will you react if your biological child contacts you on Facebook?

If you are still considering open adoption or are ready to make an adoption plan, it is first important to contact your adoption counselor. Together, create a pre- and post-adoption plan for social media use and decide how you would like to be contacted by your child’s adoptive family, and how you would like to be able to contact your child. Do you see Facebook in that plan, or would you prefer that it be left out? Having a plan and specific boundaries regarding social media will be an important part of your open adoption agreement. You may consider making this adoption plan with your child’s adoptive parents, too.

Be sure to share this plan with your child’s birth father, as well as other friends and family members who have been touched by your adoption in some way. Make them aware of the boundaries you have established as well as how you prefer them to act on social media when it comes to adoption. For example, do you want your parents adding your child’s adoptive family on Facebook? Do you want friends commenting about your adoption journey? Think about what you are comfortable with being shared on social media by others.

If you have already placed your child for adoption, here are eight tips on how to use social media appropriately in an open or semi-open adoption.

Friending the Adoptive Family:

  • As part of your post-adoption arrangement, set clear boundaries about who you will and will not accept requests from on Facebook and other social media platforms. If an extended adoptive family member tries to contact you (such as your child’s grandmother), have a plan for how you will react.
  • If you receive a friend request from your child, contact your adoption counselor before responding. If you desire contact with your child, you will want to first ensure that the adoptive parents are comfortable with this change. An adoption counselor can help you get in touch with your child’s adoptive family, as well as help you explore more traditional formats of open communication, such as private emails.

Open Adoption Communication on Social Media:

  • No matter your privacy settings, just about everything on the web is public. If you have an open adoption plan and are consistently sharing information and photos of your child, you may consider bringing it to a different platform. Create a separate, private email account designed just for adoption communication. Consider setting up a private Facebook group or password-protected website to share pictures, updates, and milestones between yours and the adoptive family. By doing so, you will be able to share sensitive, special adoption information with a specific group of trusted people.

Posting on Social Media:

  • Remember that anything you share on social media will live on in the Internet. Assume that everything you post is public. If your child has not already, there is always the possibility that he or she will stumble upon your social profile and photos. He or she may read statuses you posted while pregnant or sensitive information you once shared about your adoption plans. Scan your profile to ensure that everything you want to be seen is seen, and everything you want private is hidden or removed.
  • Consider your current privacy settings on each social media platform. Who can view your photos? Who can read what you post? Who has access to your profile, and can they access to information about your adoption, too? Adjust your privacy settings to ensure that everything meant to be private is kept as so.
  • As you receive pictures or get to know your child as he or she grows, you may feel tempted to share these updates on your Facebook wall or tag family and friends. Before doing so, remember that anything you post on Facebook is not only viewable, but also shareable by friends. If you share an update of your child, others could end up sharing it too. Keep your child’s best interests at heart and post only what you think your child and his or her adoptive family would be comfortable sharing. Do not share any identifying information (such as photos) about your child or the adoptive family.
  • Your friends are constantly posting, posting, posting on social media. If you have shared any information about your child or adoption plan with friends, even in person, there is always the chance it will come back to your social page. They may contact you via Facebook with questions and publicly reveal any identifying information you have shared. Monitor what your friends post if it pertains to your adoption.
  • Adoption relationships are sensitive, so it is important not criticize your child’s adoptive family on social media. Be respectful of their profiles, their posts, and their parenting decisions. Do not channel your frustrations through Facebook posts if it at all relates to your child and his or her adoption.

If you are unsure how to move forward with online communication or have questions about social media and open adoption, please call Adoptions With Love at 1-800-722-7731 or text us confidentially at 617-777-0072. For more advice about using social media pre and post adoption, please download our free eBook below.

adoption and social media