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  • Is Facebook a Blessing or a Curse for Adoption and Adopted Children

    Dawn Davenport

    15
    Facebook and other social media sites allow adopted children unprecedented access to their birth families. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

    Facebook and other social media sites allow adopted children unprecedented access to their birth families. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

    On the Creating a Family show this week, Adam Pertman, Exec. Director of The Adoption Institute and author of Adoption Nation said that “the Internet has fundamentally changed adoption forever.”  Hollie, one of our Creating a Family community, says “it has been a very mixed blessing.”  What has your experience been?  How have you used the social networks or the Internet in general with your adoption? Has it facilitated communication with birth families?  Has it helped your child learn more about her adoption? Have your children used it in ways that are worrisome (adoption related or otherwise)?  What are things you’ve done to protect your kids?Please add to my list below of parenting tips for handling Facebook and the Internet.

    Top Ten Parenting Tips for Adoption and Facebook

    1. Talk with your kids about adoption—early and often.  Don’t stop the discussion when your child hits the uncommunicative tween and teens.  Adoption should be a topic that everyone feels comfortable to discuss.
    2. As your child ages, pay particular attention to their desire or need for more information.  You don’t have to guess—ask them. “Are you happy with the amount of contact you have with your birth mom and siblings?”  “Do you wish you had more information about your birth parents or about your adoption?”
    3. Become a source of information and support for your child’s natural desire for information on where she came from.  Children are less likely to ‘go underground” if they know you won’t freak out and will actually help.
    4. If you have little information and your child wants more, brainstorm with your child and your adoption agency ways to get as much information as possible.  For example, if your child was adopted from China and you have no information on her birth family, try to find out as much as possible about her early life.  Use Google Earth to see the orphanage or even the spot where she was found.
    5. If your child wants to connect with his birth family online, help her.  Start a dialog his first family to see what the best method for connection might be.  How do they use their Facebook or MySpace account?  Is that the appropriate forum or do they post things that they wouldn’t want their son or daughter to see.  If you both decide that Facebook or some other social network is a good place to connect, ask them to friend you as well.
    6. If you have valid reasons (safety) for your teen to not connect online with his birth parents, talk with him about the reasons.  Acknowledge his need for information or contact, and find other ways to get him information or safe contact.
    7. Don’t overreact to what you perceive as negative exposures to birth family online.
    8. If you are concerned about information or over-sharing online by your child’s birth family, talk with them. They may simply be unaware of how this information may affect your child.
    9. Establish common sense rules for your child’s use of the Internet.  Seriously, you need to do this. No, it’s not fun; and yes, it’s a lot of work. Children have no business being online without parental involvement.  Early to mid-teens should not have unfettered access.
    10. Accept that you don’t have complete control.  As your child gets into the middle and upper teens, you have very little ability to prevent them from doing anything, especially on the Internet.  Your only hope is to go on the journey with them.

    Image credit: rishibando

    01/07/2011 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Adoption, Adoption Blog, Blog | 15 Comments


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    15 Responses to Is Facebook a Blessing or a Curse for Adoption and Adopted Children

    1. Kristina Grish says:

      my husband works with teens and the internet, so i think my opinion is also influenced by all that he learns about their cruising habits!

    2. Kristina Grish says:

      yes, this is what i suspected! if you’re in the situation, it’s v different than how one might perceive it objectively.

    3. Kristina Grish says:

      but this is all said without being an adoptive parent (yet – we’re caught up in ethiopia drama). so i think if i were in the situation, i might feel differently.

    4. Kristina Grish says:

      facebook also allows you to reach out in a way that’s without consequence if someone doesn’t reach back; but here, even the reaching out part can have an affect on the child/family.

    5. Kristina Grish says:

      if every human were responsible and thoughtful and empathic, i’d say blessing. but that’s not the case. and the part about the dad going around the adoptive parents if they weren’t compliant made me upset. we already handle online communication so clumsily that this is one topic that can’t afford to fall victim to that, i think. but i did like the idea of using facebook as a way for the kids to keep in touch with birth aunts and grandparents etc- you can connect, but still have some distance. so i guess my answer’s mixed. i guess.

    6. Tracy says:

      I love being on Facebook to connect with our daughter’s birthmother. The BM gets to see our daughter grow and how much of a blessing she is to us. And likewise, we love to see how the birthmother is doing. We feel like we have a special bond with the BM and love her like our own family. After all, we all went through so much. It means a lot to see she is doing well.

      • Dawn Dawn says:

        I think with all the talk about the negatives of Facebook and the Internet, it is often overlooked that it can be a fantastic tool for sharing info between the adoption triad (adoptees, adoptive parents, and first families).

    7. Tina says:

      The internet was a God-send to me during the adoption process and now that our son is home. During the process I could get support from others who were going through the same process and we could all lean on each other through all the previ…os, long waits, etc. Now that Joshua is home, We still have our challenges and believe me I’d be lost without all my FB family!! Yes, family…..I feel like I’ve known some of them forever and some are just acquaintences but….we all support each other, laugh, cry and gain confidence in ourselves in knowing that we aren’t going through these things alone or that we aren’t the only ones going through these things. It is also a God-send!! There are a few ppl that I’ve grown so close to and we share things that I don’t even share with biological family because they don’t understand and aren’t in our shoes…..they say, “I’m sorry, I understand,” but there is no way they do! OR you get that blank stare like you have a 3rd eye in the middle of your head like you’re overreacting or worse yet, your child is a mere “brat” or as a family member told me once, a “drama queen!” NO ONE in the adoption community on FB has EVER called my son a “drama queen” or any other horrible names or references. My dh won’t even tell his side of the family that our son is in counseling because they wouldn’t understand at all. Sad, but oh so true. Sorry this is so long ya’ll.

    8. I did. It was just a coincidence that the show was on this same topic right after it came out. What do you think? Blessing, curse, or mixed?

    9. Sandra says:

      Any advice on how to handle Facebook after abuse/neglect situations? I am trying to put it off as long as possible to allow time for my kids to heal, attach, and mature; however, I anticipate my oldest (adopted at 9 and now 14) using Facebook in the near future. She has had particular difficulty attaching as it is and is also going through major teen rebellion . . .

      • Dawn Dawn says:

        Sandra, you’re right that after a certain age it becomes almost impossible to keep them off if they are determined to get on. We talked about this specific situation on the Creating a Family show on Raising Adopted Kids in the Facebook Age. http://www.creatingafamily.org/radioshow/adoption-in-the-age-of-facebook-twitter-and-the-internet.html

        My best advice is to start talking with her. Share your concerns. Ask if she wants to search. Brainstorm with her other ways she might get the information she wants without putting herself in danger (physical or emotional). Help her get this information. If she is determined that some form of contact is what she wants, come up with alternative and safer ways to establish contact. Above all, listen to what she is trying to tell you about what she wants. Also, require her to friend you as a condition of getting a Facebook account.

    10. Kristina, I guess Facebook is like a lot of things–it depends on how it is used and on the parties using it.

    11. As an adoptive parent, I would add “Use the resources available to acclimate YOURSELF with the issues surrounding adoptions and the varying perspectives (child/adult adoptee, birth family, adoptive family). And do it BEFORE your children are online themselves.”

      The insights I’ve gotten from all the blogs and forums out there, and the friendship (yes, some even on Facebook) with other in the triad have made me a much more sensitive mom. And I’m sure that’s a benefit to my kids, since they’re on the receiving end of my parenting.

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