Social Media Etiquette in Adoption

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Social Media can be an amazing tool to connect us through our commonalities. Maybe we dated in high school, or maybe we're a long lost childhood friend. Perhaps you connect based on similar interests. Sometimes these connections are for professional reasons, helping you succeed within your area of business or expertise.

However, all over these different platforms you can find a multitude of families, young and old, straight or gay, advertising themselves as prospective adoptive parents. Anyone who is an active part of the online adoption community can attest to receiving tweets, Facebook messages, even emails regarding these families, and their journeys? At first glance, especially to those who are participating in this behavior, it may not seem as though this is a bad idea. In fact, someone may have told you a story where this sort of advertising works.

But, candidly, does it?

Those within the adoption community, especially those who have blogged for years, or spoken out on various social media platforms have seen these sorts of propositions from time to time. Bloggers have been spammed by couples asking to guest post on a self-hosted blog, so they can attract more traffic to their profiles. On Twitter, anyone who has used the #adoption hashtag will find themselves being asked to support this couple or that. Sometimes, money is requested to help them in their journey to getting a baby.

Intentions aside, the appearance of this sort of behavior is questionable at best. This past week, a new couple found their way to Twitter, and they copy, pasted and tweeted some of the most “infamous” adoption voices in the online community. They were not interested in creating a relationship with any of these people; they were hoping that they could use their stage as a place to jump off from. In layman's terms: they just want exposure.

The harsh reality of domestic infant adoption is that there is more demand than there is supply. There appears to be a new branch of marketing for couples considering adoption. Even within the online world, in the small hope that a fish will bite, you can find messages from smiling avatars, asking for your help, asking you to retweet them, donate to them, blog about them, or share their blog, all in the hopes of being noticed.

Basically, it seems as though, there is a market in which couples have been lured into, because they wish to have a family, or add to it with an infant. There appears to be an air of competition, and a mob mentality, the kind you see at a sale, when there is only one item left, and everyone wants it. Who will fight the hardest? Who will come out on top? On top of the competitiveness, a new fad of fundraising for adoption fees has also recently come about; well meaning couples asking for help with the exorbitant fees, but failing to realize that this act in of itself presents a whole new set of ethical issues.

In every aspect of life, adoption aside, there are lines that need to be drawn, and sometimes, even when the lines are drawn, excuses are made to push just a little further. Some will say they feel spiritually led. Others may say that they've always wanted a family, and they'd do anything. Whatever the reason, at what point, do they say, “Is this the right way to go about our family?”

Beyond that, this new breed of marketing could cause potential problems in the future. We all know that what you put on the internet will never truly go away. There are a number of issues that could follow when advertising oneself for a child on the internet. Your child could find the posts, and while some might argue he or she would be delighted to see the lengths you went to, most adoptees in the here and now speak vocally against these practices. One adoptee was quoted as saying that it looks as though adoptive parents are looking for an item, a commodity, and a human is never any of those things.

What about the legal aspects? When you advertising yourself, are you legally entitled to do so? If the primary goal is to obtain a child, is that legal in your country or state? If you have not properly researched the legalities in your state or country, you could find yourself with rather severe implications down the line, even if that was never your intention.

Is there a line that should be drawn when it comes to the search to build a family? One cannot dilute ethics in order to get what one wants. Social media is not a good forum for soliciting birthmothers to build or grow your family. It is inappropriate. Instead, consider the following ways to positively use social media in adoption communities:

  • Connecting: Find other families who are in similar situations. Ask questions, learn how they went about their adoption process. Spend time building friendships and relationships with both adoptive parents, birthparents and adoptees. Learn about and from their experiences.
  • Education: Instead of spamming, ask genuine questions. Don't attack or ask for anything in return. Eagerly, listen and research all that is adoption. It's not as black and white as most people believe.
  • Understand: Learn the myths; For instance, making friends with an adoptee or a birthparent will not increase your chances for finding an expectant mother. Understand the stories that these people have to offer, and learn to apply them to your own experience.
  • Social media should absolutely be used when researching, learning and listening in the adoption process. It is a very necessary tool that can connect lives that otherwise may have remained unconnected. Using these means we should be able to find a way to steer clear of the activities that may be deemed less ethical and focus simply on finding our community or tribe within the social media paradigm.

    Credits: Danielle Barnsley-Cervo

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