NY Times article about how Facebook is transforming birth family searches

Anyone who has read my book or blog knows that I am advocate for open adoption. In my opinion, children deserve to know their biological roots and connections; birth mothers deserve to know where their children are in the world, and how they are doing. I know not everyone agrees with me about this: In the course of traveling the country to promote Mamalita, I’ve spoken with or heard about dozens of adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents who feel reunion is not right for them. I respect that.

Regardless of how you feel about birth family searches, however, they are happening, and like so many things, the way they are happening has been transformed by the Internet. Read all about it in this article by Lisa Belkin in the New York Times, “I Found My Mom Through Facebook.” Here are a few  sample paragraphs:

The Internet is changing nearly every chapter of adoption. It can now start with postings by couples looking for birth mothers who want to place children, and end years later with birth mothers looking to reunite with children they’ve placed. A process that once relied on gatekeepers and official procedures can now be largely circumvented with a computer, Wi-Fi and some luck.  

“It used to be a slow process,” says Anya Luchow, a psychologist who facilitates an adoption support group in Bergen County, N.J… “And when the children were minors, it was one that their adoptive parents could control.”

Now, says Leanne Jaffe, a Manhattan therapist (herself an adoptee) who specializes in adoption issues: “Kids, at the most vulnerable time for developing identity, are plugged in online. Either they are savvy enough to find their birth parents, or they spend time in places like Facebook, where their birth parents can find them.”

There are stories of children as young as 13 approached by birth parents online, and of children being contacted before they had been told they were adopted. Among the most cautionary of tales is that of Aimee L. Sword, who was convicted of having sex with her biological son, who was 14 at the time, and whom she found on Facebook when yearly updates from his adoptive family stopped coming. “It’s uncharted territory,”  Dr. Luchow says. What are the new rules? They are being made up as the participants — adoptees and their parents — go along.


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2 Responses to “NY Times article about how Facebook is transforming birth family searches”

  1. Stephen says:

    I think adoption agencies are going to have to be more open and honest and give the adoptee the choice of whether they want their previous family in their life or not at a younger age. I also think social services and the courts are going to have to accept the reality of “17 and under” visits and reunions and realize that with the internet they may not be able to keep adopted children and birth family apart till adulthood anymore. The secret surname thing has outlived its usefulness with the openness of the internet and ability to search others friends lists. Each adopted child is going to have to be handled on a case by case from now on with regards to contact, and the adoptive parents and adopted children are going to have to be given a lot more guidance in terms of social networking. However, the reality is that if an adopted teenager is very determined to find and contact his birth family or the other way around, and wishes to be open about their life online, social services may not be able to stop them from reconnecting before 18.

  2. Jessica says:

    Stephen, thank you for your thoughtful comment. I agree with you.

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