Communicating Through Social Media

Social media and the Internet are transforming the ways that communication takes place among the adoption triad.  In the past, this type of online communication was not an option. In fact, contact between birth and adoptive families was not typical in adoption arrangements at all.  Most adoptive parents did not have the ability to get to know their child’s birth family. Just decades ago, adoptive families could not reach out to their child’s birth mother with questions. Now, social media in adoption is very common.

Today, open adoption is the norm.  Approximately 95 percent of adoptions are fully or semi-open plans, which means that they have made arrangements for some extent of ongoing contact. Contact is common through letters and pictures, email or phone conversations, texting, and Facebook messaging.

There is no doubt that the Internet and social media have advanced communications among the adoption triad. Therefore, making it faster and easier for adoptive families to connect and maintain contact with their child’s birth parents. According to a 2013 study from the Donaldson Adoption Institute, about one in every four adoptive parents have used the Internet to search for and make contact with birth family members through their own website or social media account.  In addition, a handful of adoptive parents monitored this sort of contact through their children’s accounts.

The Importance of Setting Boundaries on Social Media for Adoptive Families

If you are in an open or semi-open adoption arrangement, you have likely used social media somewhere along the line to stay up to date with your child’s birth parents. Perhaps that is why you are here. Maybe you and your child regularly use Facebook, Twitter, or other social accounts to keep in touch with birth family members, but are looking for tips on how to navigate those conversations.

As an adoptive parent, you may have questions such as, Should I friend my child’s birth mother on Facebook? or Should I post baby pictures of my child online? Perhaps you are wondering, When should I talk to my child about social media? or How can I prepare for any open communication online?

Preparing to use Social Media in Adoption

  • Above all, remember to keep the best interest of your child in mind for everything.
  • First, educate yourself and your children about the use of social media.  Sit down and speak with them about the different social media tools. Explain how social media tools work, and how they can impact others, including extended family members.  Set boundaries and guidelines for your child as he or she starts to use the Internet more regularly.
  • Second, if you are in touch with your child’s birth family, talk to them about their comfort levels with social media, and how much information they are comfortable with you sharing online.  Tell them how much you are comfortable with them sharing too. Set boundaries for online contact and things that may be important to you. For example, not sharing photos, not commenting on each other’s pages, friending only immediate family members, etc.  In addition, asking permission from your child’s birth parents BEFORE posting pictures is a great way to respect each others’ comfort levels and privacy.
  • Third, it is important to talk with extended family members and friends about keeping information private.

Tips for Posting and using Social Media in Adoption

  • Most importantly, always think before you post. Remember that adoption relationships can be very sensitive. It is important not to post anything that will be offending or disrespectful to your child’s birth family. For example, even the simplest, “I haven’t slept in days!” could be taken the wrong way. It is also important not to post any identifying information about your child’s birth family. Do not share any information or photos of your child that you do not want shared with the rest of the world. Keep in mind that the Internet has no limits, and anything you post there will be open to public comment and the eyes of the world-wide web.
  • Alternatively, consider more private, online contact methods to replace social media and open adoption communication. Because your personal Facebook posts, profiles, and comments can be publicly accessed, you may consider creating a separate avenue for contact.  Create a separate and unique e-mail address for communication with birth parents. Or build a private Facebook page or password-protected website designed specifically for adoption communication. With these in place, any sensitive adoption information can be communicated privately without any risk of public access.
  • Without a doubt, be very cautious with sharing your child’s information on public posts. It is ultimately part of your child’s story. And, once a post goes viral it is no longer private and no longer your child’s story to share at his or her discretion.
  • Finally, always use positive adoption language and be mindful of the words you choose.

 Here are some interesting facts about social media

  • There are 2.37 billion Facebook users.
  • There are 1 billion active Instagram users.
  • Over 330 million people are on Twitter.
  • Over 60% of internet users are on Facebook.

Online Learning

Is That my Birth Mom on Facebook

https://www.adoptionlearningpartners.org/catalog/webinars/is-that-my-birth-mom-on-facebook.cfm

Social Media and the Adopted Child

https://www.adoptionlearningpartners.org/catalog/webinars/social-media-and-the-adopted-child.cfm

Helpful Links

Positive Adoption Language adoptionassociates.net/news/positive-adoption-language

How Much is Too Much? The Importance of Setting Boundaries on Social Media for Adoptive Families https://adoptionswithlove.org/adoptive-parents/setting-boundaries-on-social-media

Social Media and the Post-Adoption Experience By Deborah H. Siegel, PhD, LICSW, DCSW, ACSW, Social Work Today Vol. 12 No. 5 P.22 http://www.socialworktoday.com/archive/091712p22.shtml

Ten Tips for Navigating an Open Adoption with Social Medi By Tiffany Smart, Adoption.com July 31, 2014  https://adoption.com/navigating-social-media

Adoption Associates’ Waiting Families: The waiting time is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about adoption and some of the issues that may need your attention as your child grows. We hope you use this information as a learning tool to enhance your adoption journey preparation. In addition, please remember to complete a summary in the Domestic Education section of the adoption portal. After you have read and reviewed the material, log onto www.MyAdoptionPortal.com to complete the summary.