Technology and child adoption
September 3, 2019 6:09 AM   Subscribe

How has adopting a child changed since the advent of the internet? I’m writing something about a family in Massachusetts, if that helps.
posted by pxe2000 to Technology (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I can't speak for Massachusetts, specifically, but.. in the province where I live, and in Canada, there are "waiting children" registries that have profiles (usually including photos) of kids who are waiting to be adopted. Generally, these are the 'hard to place' kids - sibling groups (especially boys), kids with health challenges, kids with disabilities, etc.
posted by VioletU at 7:37 AM on September 3, 2019

Additionally with the magic of the internet, and related to difficult to place children (i.e. tend to by unique in various ways), it's posssible for related family of the children to find out who the adoptive parents are. Similarly, if there's any accidents in redaction of personal information, the adoptive parents can find out a lot about the biological parents.
posted by nobeagle at 8:15 AM on September 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

Perhaps obvious, but with consumer genetic testing (23andme, etc) you can't guarantee anonymity. Even if the birth parent doesn't sign up for a service, they can't control what their siblings, other kids, parents, etc do so the adopted child can probably find biological relatives if they want to.
posted by insectosaurus at 8:47 AM on September 3, 2019 [4 favorites]

Well there’s the whole ‘being catfished by someone pretending to be a pregnant teen’ thing.
posted by bq at 9:27 AM on September 3, 2019

Post-adoption, domestic, open, assuming birth parent wasn't forced to sever ties:
Like for all of us, social media are another space to maintain relationships... For better and worse. My sibling has 1, soon to be 2, domestically adopted children. There has been a high expectation of social media relationships from the birth family. These are already complicated relationships, so worrying about what people see is tough. There seems to also be a much higher demand for frequent photos of the children by birth family members beyond those with a legal right to them.
Also (just like us all), the adoptive parents know a whole lot more about the birth family... Sometimes things they don't want to know.
Without a doubt, birth family members have referred to social media things at (obligatory) meetings... Vacations taken by adoptive family, etc. So that can get weird.

But also I have friends where this has helped... Like they keep in touch with one of the more reasonable birth family members via social media and gotten more information about health history (beyond those given legally at time of adoption).

I also have friends where the birth parents are precariously housed, so being able to communicate via text is good for maintaining ties.

As far as prospective adoption:
Around here, prospective adoptive parents have access to a survey form where they enter what they want (gender, age, race, substance exposure, disability, prenatal care, etc.) and the prospective birth mother enters her info into the same system. When there is a match, birth mother sort of swipes right on the prospective adoptive parents. Prospectives get a text they're being looked at and get access to birth mom's profile and can also sort of swipe right or left.
Interestingly, they also get a text for 90% matches and can get access to birth mom's profile to see if they're willing to consider it. Like, maybe they said must have had parental care but everything else is a match. They can tell the system to manually release their profile to the birth mom even though it wasn't a perfect match. And then birth mom sees those prospective parents in her listings.
Beyond the survey form, the prospective parents' profile is carefully created with nice photos and essays.
posted by k8t at 9:33 AM on September 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm an adoptive parent here in our internet age. I think closed/secretive adoptions were a lot easier to keep secret before the internet because people didn't always stay as connected (especially if the kid didn't grow up with the adoptive family in the same town where the birth parent is). There's also a lot less stigma around adoption and unplanned pregnancies now, so morals have shifted, aside from the internet (like, open adoptions were a growing trend before the internet).

But social media means that an open adoption can be way more open: an adoptive parent sharing photos of their kid on social media might have as friends/followers the first/birth family, whereas before the parent might have mailed some printed photos once or twice a year.

It also means it's much easier for a first/birth family to find the adoptive family if they know the name, town, etc. This can be bad in a case where a child was removed from the home of an abusive parent, but it can be good in situations where this contact is welcome. Note that this is true even with international adoptions, whereas even 15 years ago, an adoptive family looking to find a first family in an international adoption might have had to hire a searcher in that country. Many adoptive parents or adult adoptees might now be surprised when a member of the birth family reaches out.

One specific example, though this isn't specifically about adoption, but it could be: a friend of mine in his late 40s grew up thinking his single mom parent didn't have a choice but to raise him without his birth dad. He took a DNA test and was immediately contacted by an older half-sibling who had spent years looking for him when my friend's mom cut off contact with the dad. He had been her college professor, a divorced or widowed man, who slept with his student and wanted to help raise my friend.

So sometimes lies are being exposed. This has potentially good and bad consequences for people.
posted by bluedaisy at 11:50 AM on September 3, 2019

There is an endless supply of people wanting to adopt making their own websites up to advertise themselves and seek pregnant females

There are also tons of gofundmes begging for money to adopt

There are many support groups to help HAPs (hopeful adoptive parent(s)) thru the various methods of adoption, procedures, tips, etc

Adoption agencies maintain webpages offering their services

Adoption has changed a lot as others noted, there’s info and a support group available for anyone in the triad now.
posted by RichardHenryYarbo at 4:52 PM on September 3, 2019

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