Sunday, November 13, 2011

Adoptive Families and the Internet

Another topic that was discussed during Karen Cheyney's presentation at ACONE's Adoption Conference this Saturday was the problematic issue of tech-savvy adopted kids making contact with biological families without the adoptive parents' knowledge. In today's world of social networking, it is often fairly easy for tweens and teens to find biological parents online. For me, this is one more reason why it is important for adoptive parents to build real-life, positive relationships with birth parents whenever possible, and as early as possible. It also highlights the importance of creating an atmosphere of acceptance in the home so that the adoptee will feel comfortable talking to the adoptive parents about the first family.

Because here's the thing: most adoptees are going to have a desire to reach out to the biological family at some point. It is natural for adopted children to desire a connection to their roots and sooner or later they are likely to seek that connection ... with or without the adoptive parents' support. If you are an adoptive parent, wouldn't you rather be involved?

Open adoption allows the connection to biological family to occur in a safe, supervised manner, with the involvement of the adoptive parents. It can help to demystify the birth family, rather than positioning them as the forbidden fruit. An adopted teen won't need to sneak away to try to meet up with her birth mother if that birth mother is already a regular part of her life.

Yes, you should monitor your child's online activity and teach about internet safety, but as your child gets older, he or she will have opportunities to access the internet outside of your home and it will become increasingly difficult to monitor all social-networking activity. Keeping the lines of communication open between adoptees and adoptive parents, and, when possible, between adoptive parents and birth parents, can also be an important part of creating safety. 


Related Posts:
Being "Emotionally Open" to First Families
Let's Get Real: Embracing Duality in Adoptive Families
Are You an Attuned Adoptive Parent?

5 comments:

  1. Great post! I can't imagine what life would have been like as a teen if I had had access to the internet instead of having to search obits via mirco-fiche! Either way, I was searching without my parents knowledge.

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  2. Yes its true that more and more kids are searching through internet to find their biological parents. In web sites like facebook (http://www.facebook.com) or Birth Parent Search (http://www.i-am-adopted.com) typical social networks. In fact the second one is a social network focused on that. There arent much a parent can do.

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  3. Great post! Open communication does always seem to be the answer to almost all things parents deal with. You are so right that we are just born curious about who we are and that our children are going to have natural desires to find that out. Thank you again for another wonderful, thoughtful post.

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  4. Hear, hear!

    This is the thinking that led me to openness in the first place -- the fact that the child would one day search and I might be excluded (yes, at one time it was all about me). But now I know that openness from as early as possible helps in so many other ways.

    Great post. I really appreciate your dual-viewpoint on these matters.

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  5. Thanks Lori. I have appreciated many of your posts and also often second your thumbs up on StumbleUpon. If there is every anything specific that you'd especially like a second on (whether a post by you or someone else) please feel free to share it to my toolbar. (I think I have it set up so you can do that.)

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