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.