Social Media and Adoption
Our society uses social media to keep in touch with family, friends and many others. Social media has changed the way we communicate both in our personal and even work lives. Adoption is no different and birth parents and adoptive families are no exception.
In the adoption world social media can help make connections between adoptive parents and birth parents. It can help to keep an open adoption going with easy communication. Online support groups offer communities for adoptive and birth parents, that are easily accessible for when they need them.
Before agreeing to be friends through social media Adoption Minnesota encourages adoptive parents need to think about how they will feel if they were to see their child’s birth parents or family posting about their struggles and the coping that go along with placing a child for adoption. They also encourage birth parents, to think about how they will feel reading about the feelings adoptive parents might post about the adoption process, fear, stress, nervousness, happiness etc. When using social media, it’s important to remember that the adoption process is not only your story, but your child’s story, and the way you tell that story could impact everyone involved in the adoption. The following are some tips for when you are considering using social media on your adoption journey.
For Birth Parents and Adoptive Parents:
- Assume that anything you say or post on social media will stay there forever. Before posting sensitive information about your adoption plans and your child, consider the possibility that the information you share now could one day be seen by your child.
- It is a good idea to work on a post adoption social media plan. Adoption Minnesota along with many other agencies help adoptive parents and birth parents create one so that everyone is on the same page about what will be posted. Having a plan in place will allow birth parents and adoptive families to establish and agree on boundaries regarding discussions of their child and the adoption on social media.
- If you are not currently a social media user or not a frequent user, it is very important to become familiar with sites before using them. Many sites have features that you should understand about public or private information and how you add information that is private verses public. Even after you become familiar with the privacy settings on any given site it is also important to still be aware that these sites often change the settings options. If you plan to share information about your adoption process on social media, adjust your privacy settings to limit the people who can access that information.
- When sharing adoption information with your social media networks, remember that friends can share or respond to your posts, opening your information to a wider audience beyond your intended group of friends and followers. Include this consideration in your pre- and post-adoption social media plan.
- Adoption Minnesota suggests that parties do not share identifying information about the birth or adoptive family or the child.
- When sharing images of children, consider private photo-sharing websites that require a password to view posted photo galleries.
- If you have an open adoption, consider setting up a separate, private website or private Facebook page to share pictures, information and milestones between the birth and adoptive families. This will allow you to share adoption information with a select group of individuals without including the day-to-day information you might share on your public social media sites.
- Have clear boundaries from the beginning about who you will accept friend and follower requests from, including extended birth and adoptive family members.
- Avoid angry or emotionally charged communication about other members of the adoption process. Again, remember that anything you do or say on social media could potentially be seen by your child one day, and these types of negative posts could be upsetting to your child.
- Monitor and censor what friends post on your social media pages. If you shared adoption information with a friend or family member outside of social media, they may post questions or information to your social media pages that publicly reveals this information.
- When posting to online adoption support groups or discussion forums, be careful to guard the privacy and identity of the members of your adoption. Consider changing names or using commonly used acronyms, such as “BP” for birth parent.
For Birth Parents:
- Talk with your family, friends and the birthfather about your post adoption social media plan. Make sure everyone understands your wishes regarding the information that is shared on social media.
- If you receive a friend request from a child, speak to your Adoption Minnesota counselor or an adoption specialist before responding. Social media is often not the best format to make these types of connections, and you may consider redirecting the request to more traditional formats, such as personal letters or emails.
- Do not criticize the adoptive parents on social media, including expressing frustration with their parenting decisions.
For Adoptive Parents:
- Do not post pre-placement adoption information, such as ultrasound photos, without an agreement from the birth parents.
- If you are connected to your child’s birth family on social media, avoid posting complaints about your child. Simple expressions of routine frustrations over late-night diaper changes or a messy bedroom can be misinterpreted by birth parents and lead to hurt feelings.
- If you have an open or semi-open adoption with your child’s birth parents, share big news and milestones regarding your child with them directly via letter, email or phone call before posting it online for the rest of your social network to see.
- Never criticize members of the birth family on social media, including those who seem to be unsupportive of the birth mother’s adoption decision.
- As your child grows up and begins to use social media, consider their privacy settings and their access to information about their birth family. Prepare your child for the pros and cons of developing a social media relationship with his or her birth family.
Social Media can be a great way to get to know each other and stay connect, but it can also lead to hurt feelings and misconceptions if not used right. The important thing to think about when using social media for adoption purposes is how it will affect everyone involved. As long as both sides are on the same page and have discussed their plan, Adoption Minnesota feels that social media can be a very helpful adoption tool.