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Facebook and Adoption

June 24, 2010

The Guardian has a long and thoughtful article about the effect of social networking sites on adoption and the questions which the new media communication facilities are asking of adopters, of biological parents, of professionals and most of all of adopted children and young people. I have posted about this previously here and here.

My own view is that the greater openness which social networking is forcing upon adoption is on the whole a good thing. The old secrecy, a relic of the days when it was mostly illegitimate babies who were adopted which had to be kept a guilty secret because of the shame associated with having conceived outside wedlock, is finally being swept away.

A long time ago I used to do a few court reports in adoption cases – this is long before the modern regime and I am afraid that in writing this I reveal my age to the cognisante. However, after having visited the adopters checked the paperwork and been assured they would, at an appropriate age, ‘tell the child’, I would put in my report and the court would make the order. Soon afterwards as I tooled round my patch, I would pass the adopters home and notice a For Sale board outside. This happened so regularly that I realised that what was happening was that the adopters, with their baby, were moving to another area where they could let the neighbours, the school, other parents etc think that their adopted child was their own biological child. Indeed, in those days there was quite a lot of emphasis among placing agencies in matching babies and adopters by appearance so as to help them avoid ‘awkward questions’. I very much doubt the adopters in that era ever ‘told the child’ leaving the child to discover the truth – usually in adolescence and with the predictable trauma and disillusionment with his/her adoptive parents.

If anybody involved with adoption has not yet viewed Mike Leigh’s great movie Secrets and Lies then get it now.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. June 29, 2010 1:35 am

    Being of your vintage and possibly older I remember those days in SW too.True intentions are always difficult to know, however expert the assessor.That ability to deceive adoptees is yet another reason why adoption and the adoption industry fails adoptees continually and has done for decades.

  2. Brick permalink*
    June 29, 2010 7:40 am

    Welcome Von and thanks for your perceptive comment. I had a look at your own fascinating blog and have added you to my blogroll.

  3. June 29, 2010 7:27 pm

    For most adoptees, Facebook is a dream come true. I myself was able to contact my biological siblings, aunts and cousins. As usual, the only worries about Facebook are coming from adoptive parents. I guess some will ban the internet from their home when their adoptlings become curious and/or vocal about searching? Yeah…good luck with that.

    I do, however, find it quite despicable that some paps are using Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites to find “their” baby. How demeaning will it be for that child when they find out they were procured via Facebook? I can hear them now…..”Geeze- Mom was playing Farmville and needed a goat, but instead she got me.” Gross.

  4. June 29, 2010 9:03 pm

    I worked as a Social Worker (with the elderly, not in the American adoption system–hallelujah) and am back in Social Work school furthering my education. I’ve seen a clear disconnect between the findings of research and the attitudes that many Social Workers in-practice actually have towards adoption. Sometimes it’s the adoption workers that are still perpetuating the stereotypes and I just have to shake my head at it in disbelief.

    Needless to say, when I encountered your blog and read this entry, I held my breath. I was relieved to see that you feel the same way I do! I was astounded at the BAAF’s all-but-fearmongering of adoption with their statement about social networking sites. The whole premise of adoption for us in the US with our continued amending and sealing is “no one has to know you’re adopted–not even YOU.” My falsified certificate claims my Adoptive Parents gave “live birth” and swears under penalty of law to be the “original copy.” Secrecy around the globe is done for the same reasons as you said, to hide illegitimacy as well as infertility, and out-of-wedlock birth. I read a research report the other day that said that a child retaining too much of their Original Identity causes fear that the Adoptive Family will be unable to love them unconditionally. How sad.

    But now they feel they must scramble to “protect” children from themselves and their Original Families when access of one family to the other, which is in the best-interest of children, should have been in place all along. How equally sad.

  5. Brick permalink*
    June 30, 2010 9:30 am

    Welcome Linda. I did an earlier posting at
    where I mention a couple of examples of prospective adopters looking for children through social networking sites. I’ve added your interesting blog to my blogroll.

  6. Brick permalink*
    June 30, 2010 9:35 am

    Welcome Amanda. Thanks for your comments. I’ve added your blog to my blogroll.

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