Given the seemingly revolutionary impact of social media on private adoption efforts in the United States, there’s remarkably little analysis of this trend in books and scholarship. Some books about adopting a baby domestically do discuss the use of the Internet, but the information is almost uniformly outdated.
Tapestry Books is a site known in the adoption community for selling various books on adoption. The “How to Adopt” section of the site offers many books with helpful advice targeted at hopeful adoptive parents. In surveying the books, some of which I’d already read, it’s apparent that most were written in the early to mid 2000’s – well before Facebook, Twitter and related platforms had appeared. These books may touch on building an adoption website so that you have an online presence. But there is no discussion of social media, Google Adwords, or using the Internet as more than a place to post a static website.
Social scientists don’t appear to have dived in yet, either. A Google Scholar search on “private adoption” and “social media” yielded 24 results, two of which were fairly recent. In reading them further, they looked at legal issues related to adoption and social media or discussed communication between adoptees and their biological families through social media. This is another important aspect of adoption, but not helpful in answering my thesis question, “Social media and online presence are a growing source of domestic adoption matches in the United States.”
One piece of literature that I found to be very comprehensive was Untangling the Web II. This 83-page report was published by The Donaldson Adoption Institute in December, 2013. A section titled “Adoptive Parent Use of the Internet in Finding a Child” provides some information on how hopeful adoptive parents are using the Internet to bring them closer to adopting a baby. But there are just a few paragraphs that really hit on this topic. Much of the research discusses how the Internet is used in other facets of adoption. This is groundbreaking research and I recommend it to all who are hoping to adopt or have adopted. The press release that was written about this research noted that in early 2014 they plan to release the next related publication, a Guide to Internet Use in Adoption to advise all parties about how to better utilize the Internet and social media while reducing their risks. This publication will provide much needed research and data about a topic that is constantly evolving and of interest to many in the adoption community. I’ll be offering a review as soon as I get a copy.
Over all, the most useful information on how hopeful adoptive parents are using the Internet and social media in their adoption efforts came (no surprise) by using a core Web tool — Google – to search for news articles about private adoption and specific terms like “Social Media”, “Facebook,” and “Google Adwords.” Some articles warn of scammers contacting folks hoping to adopt, while others prove that technology can be the way to make a match and successfully adopt a baby. Some of the best information about the use of the Internet and social media can be found in forums and online adoption groups.
Here are some helpful articles I found in my search:
My literature review proved that the latest and most helpful information about how hopeful adoptive parents can effectively use the Internet won’t be found in bound books. Technology changes very rapidly and the best way to keep up with it and how its changes are affecting the practice of adoption is to keep reading and researching online. Get involved in adoptive parent groups (both online as well as those that meet in person) where people are discussing their experiences using the Internet to adopt a baby. Peer to peer sharing of information and advice is a key attribute of online discourse.
*Photo courtesy of Flickr and the Princeton Public Library, NJ