September 9, 2013
The internet and social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have profoundly transformed our society as a whole. They have also transformed the world of adoption. When adopted tweens can locate birth siblings or internationally adopted teens can contact former caregivers in their birth countries online, all stakeholders in adoption face a set of challenges not seen before.
The Evan B. Donaldson Institute is conducting the first of its kind ongoing study of the issues presented to adoption stakeholders by the internet and social media sites. The report issued in December 2012 can be found in its entirety here. It finds that this powerful technology is having a profound, permanent impact on modern adoption. The report highlights the “positive, negative, and complicated” changes faced by the millions of people with adoption-related concerns and issues.
Today we look at the top five internet benefits for international adoption. Tomorrow we will look at the risks facing international adoption stakeholders.
- Increased availability of information about children requiring families facilitates matching – Although photo listings have proven to be controversial in modern adoption, the ability to highlight children needing families on a national and international level has increased the number of matches between these children and families. The increased information flow has been especially impactful on children who have special needs, are older, or who are part of sibling groups. These children require families with specific characteristics and specialized parenting skills. Through the power of the internet, these children are being placed successfully in permanent, loving homes equipped to deal with their unique situations.
- The amount of of reliable, useful information about adoption issues has increased exponentially – prospective adoptive parents can find a great deal of information online to help them decide if international adoption is right for them and then to successfuly navigate their adoption journey. Adoptive parents with their children home can find a variety of online sites to provide answers to questions they might have while parenting their adoptive child. Credible, researched-based adoption information can be found on sites such as TCU’s Institute of Child Development and the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. MLJ Adoptions maintains its own resource list.
- Adoptive parents can more easily find networking opportunities online with others in similar situations – whereas previously an adoptive family might have felt isolated in their local community without the benefit of connection to other adoptive families, now an adoptive family can go online and connect with families from across the nation. MLJ Adoptions provides its client families with an adoption forum allowing clients from across the United States and beyond to share experiences and offer support to each other.
- Parents experiencing difficulties parenting a child from a hard place can find appropriate support and services online – the trauma that adoptive children have experienced in their past can present parenting challenges. Sometimes parents may need to consult a therapist to navigate this rough terrain, but not every therapist is trained to deal with the issues surrounding adoption. Through online research, parents can find a therapist fully versed in adoption issues.
- More information means increased transparency of the adoption process – the rules governing international adoption change often and can be confusing. Sites such as the US Department of State’s Intercountry Adoption Alerts and Notice’s provides reliable updates to adoption procedures by country. This increased transparency reduces the opportunity for informed parents to be duped by corrupt operators.
Adoptive parents can benefit greatly from the increased availability of adoption information on the internet and from the increased affinity that can be found through social media sites. But, the awareness and ability to share information can also have downsides. Tomorrow we will discuss the top five risks of the internet to adoptive parents.
Photo Credit: Jason A. Howie
For more information about MLJ Adoptions’ international adoption programs, please click here.