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Facebook has changed adoption for ever & what this means for me…

I’ve seen this article popping up repeatedly on the various adoption groups I belong to on Social Media –

Facebook has changed adoption for ever

And once again it has reminded me of how the face of adoption is forever changing but also how every single adoption story is different, has different circumstances and needs to be handled differently.

I just have to look at my own two girls to know this. This circumstances around their placements were completely different. The way they were placed was completely different and most notably, the relationships we have with their birth mother’s is completely different and this 100% affects how we tread their reuniting with the birth mothers/families in the future.

In Ava’s case, although she was placed first and we went into her placement being pretty clueless and kind of terrified and agreeing to a closed adoption, we have a pretty much open adoption now. Granted Ava’s birth mom does not visit her but we are friends on Face Book and whenever I am in Cape Town, I always make a plan to have lunch with her and a catch up. She does not want to meet with Ava yet, feeling that Ava is still too young and not wanting to interfere in our family dynamic, but she is as keen for both Walter and I to be involved in their meeting when the time is right. I don’t want her to meet Ava now, because like her, I feel Ava is too young to deal with the complexities of having a relationship with both her natural mother and me, her adoptive mother, but I am just as eager for Ava to have a relationship with her when the time comes.

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Hannah’s circumstances were different and as a result, we have what the article refers to as “letterbox contact”. We communicate about 3 to 4 times a year, via email, that is sent to our social worker and she sends it on to us and vice versa. We exchange bits of information on how Hannah is doing and share photo’s this way. I don’t have an email address for her, or her telephone number. I can’t just drop her a quick Whatsapp, like I can with Ava’s birth mom.

But of course, with the introduction of social media and the internet, the world truly has become a tiny place and you can find anyone these days. I’ve checked our Hannah’s birth mom on Tumblr, LinkedIn and Face Book, I could message her if I wanted to, but I won’t, I feel that’s a gross invasion of privacy. She has her reasons for placing and for keeping her distance and I am determined to respect that.

But then this article opened a whole new can of worms for me….. What about when Hannah is a teenager? In another 10 years or so, what forms of communication will there be then? She’ll be able to find her birth family if she chooses and I think most likely she will want to. But with the information age comes another question I never thought of before. Will she allow responsible facilitation of her meeting? Because neither Walter nor I would ever stand in her way but we would like the situation handled consciously and carefully.

These incidents must be happening locally too and I wonder how our social workers are dealing with it here? Are they preparing for it? Reunion needs to be handled carefully and in the best interests of both the adoptee and birth family. As my children’s adoptive parents, I am all for encouraging them in reuniting with their birth families but I want it done carefully and responsibly.

The other point that this article made abundantly clear to me is the importance of openness with our adopted children so that they don’t feel they need to seek our their birth families on social media and behind our backs, especially when they’re at the vulnerable and impressionable years of early teens. The more open we are, I believe, the less likely they are to do this.

The other thing I think that is made very clear is that the heart will always want what it wants and if your child has a curiosity about their roots, no amount of discouragement from the adopted family is going to change this. And this isn’t something I’d ever even want to change, I’d always want my girls to be confident in knowing their whole story and knowing their roots.

One thing is for sure, the more I navigate the path of parenting via adoption, the more I become aware of a lot of pitfalls along the way that I never contemplated when we first started out on this journey when all I wanted was a baby.

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16 Comments

  • Reply Thabang (@Thabang_Nits)

    I love how SM opens up my eyes to certain things I never knew about. I love reading about your adoption journey, I may never comment but I do. Thank you for teaching me and opening my eyes to new things!

    July 14, 2015 at 9:38 am
    • Reply Sharon

      Thanks Nits! That means a lot to me! And thanks for commenting today.

      July 14, 2015 at 9:41 am
  • Reply karabo

    i feel like my Dee birth mom could have made contact. i have asked several time from the agency if she hasn’t made contact. i would have wanted that for our daughter. i have done internet search just to check if she is ok. we do tell her about her origin and we show her the picture, but i guess she is too young to understand, thanks for a great article!

    July 14, 2015 at 11:27 am
    • Reply Sharon

      We used the same agency, so I’m pretty sure they would have let you know if she had. That’s what makes adoption so complex, it’s not just about one person but everyone in the triad. And everyone copes differently. Your birth mom probably feels she copes better without the contact. It must hurt. xxx

      July 14, 2015 at 11:31 am
  • Reply Charlotte aka The Stiletto Mum

    My situation is different as my father(I call him sperm donor) signed his rights away when I was born and my stepdad(he is my father) adopted me and raised me. My parents told me all of this when I was in Grade 5 because of something I said to my aunt and they figured that I knew. Finding out at that age ruined my childhood and made my teenage years difficult. I started looking for him via SM just before I turned 21. ONly after I found him I told my mom. After our meeting his family started to track me on Facebook and we became friends that way. For that I love facebook.

    July 14, 2015 at 2:41 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      I do believe SM has it’s place. But do think that if there is openess from the beginning then none of this would be necessary.

      July 14, 2015 at 2:53 pm
  • Reply ladyvermeulen

    Very thought provoking. I guess at the end of the day we just have to be open as we can and if it does happen and we make it a discussion that is always open then we can make our girls feel safer in sharing. Who knows how its all going to turn out but then no one does we just have to trust that our relationships we are building now will be strong enough to weather any storm and that our girls know that we are their safety net. Let them explore the world and whatever it may hold including their relationships with their Birth parents but we will be rooting for them and if its disappointing for them we will be there too.

    July 14, 2015 at 7:42 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      I think openess is the key. To never make our children feel that they can’t ask about their birth families, to always let them know that they are loved and that they are safe and that they can ask anything without fear so that when the time comes they will hopefully now go behind our backs to seek reunion. I’d dearly love to be part of my girls reunions in whatever small way they will allow.

      July 15, 2015 at 9:13 am
  • Reply nunu5

    I like this

    July 15, 2015 at 12:02 pm
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