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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.