Facebook undermines adoption placements ?

The Times continues with its campaign for swifter adoptions today, highlighting concerns that adoptive placements are being derailed by birth parents making contact with their children via facebook  The article also contains an interesting statistic from research by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, which  found that 53 per cent of adopted children have used unofficial means, including Facebook, to trace birth parents. This would suggest that swift adoption might not be the panacea that both the Times, the government and Martin Narey would have us believe. Another article I came across while googling facebook / adoption is from the Telegraph in 2009, which is about a man who had been adopted as a child and in his thirties finally managed to track down his parents through facebook. His final quote is very telling –

“Facebook has changed my life – if it wasn’t for that then all this wouldn’t have happened,” said Mr Marks (the adoptee)

“I always knew I was adopted and I had real issues with feeling rejected and not knowing where I belong.

“I felt depressed when I was growing up – it was like a massive void that was never filled.”

I’m not aware of any research into the emotional well-being of adoptees in childhood and adult life, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a high statistic of depression amongst them. And if that is the case, then I think we should be thinking long and hard before hurrying along adoptions, especially where there is limited / indirect / no contact with their birth parents.

Chris McWatters

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3 Comments

Filed under Adoption

3 responses to “Facebook undermines adoption placements ?

  1. Helen

    Chris, surely the statistic of depression would be as a result of being given up for adoption, not being adopted. How much worse would the feeling of being abandoned or of an unfilled void be if compounded by never having the chance of a stable family life ie adopted.

    Whilst I appreciate that there is a statistically significant number of adoptions that fail, is this not a case where it is better to try and fail a few rather than to continue at a grindingly slow pace failing the many?

  2. Michael Sheath

    I’m writing as an adopter, and as an Expert Witness in childcare proceedings, and as an advisor to the Police about on line grooming etc (phew). The problem of Facebook is that it has driven a coach and horses through previous, subtle and well thought plans to regulate the reintroduction of adopted children to their birth parents. That process used to take months, with counselling, planning, gradual introductions and so on. The problem now is that a child with moderated computer skill can find a parent in minutes, and be in contact via mobile phone on the same day. Some, although by no means all adopted children are removed because their parents harmed them, and even without that factor, the emotional consequences of a rushed reunion are often traumatic and disappointing for both sides. No solutions from me though! Adopters need to be aware that whatever their attitude to contact, be it via letter box, face to face, or none at all, whatever plans they have are likely to be undermined by the technologies available: policies and philosophies in respect of adoption remain rooted in the age of steam.

  3. Stephen

    I am a computer tech expert and disability rights expert. I have been following this issue on my free time. What I think that will have to happen is to tell the adopted child they are adopted and why earlier, make sure they understand their full life story and their past accurately (both good and bad elements) before they reach social networking age as opposed to waiting till they are 18. Contact with low risk birth relatives (and their brothers and sisters) should not be severed at all at the time of adoption (relationship will become more friend like as opposed to being not allowed). For higher risk relatives, maybe contact should be controlled or supervised for a few years. When they reach their teen years, the adoptee should have more input into the contact level they would like with all their relatives (the life story info may better help them decide which ones they want to have relationships with and which ones to not have relationships with). The police should only arrest birth relatives in cases of kidnapping or abuse (as opposed to all cases of visits and non-letterbox contact). The adoptive parents still remain in custody till 18. For relatives that are higher risk, it may be best to advise adoptive parents to supervise them while visiting, or have the visits be in a public place (it is harder to get away with drug abuse, sexual assualt, etc when everyone is watching). The secret surname thing has outlived its usefulness with the openness of the internet and the ability to search others friends list and by area,

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