Psychology Today: Facebook and Adoption

Facebook & Adoption: TMI or a Good Thing?

Facebook has become a character in both adoption and reunification; a player.  

Published on February 18, 2011 by Meredith Resnick, L.C.S.W. in Adoption Stories

We adopted eleven years ago and what a different world the process was back then. For starters, it was all on paper, on hard copy. Forms were completed in ink. They were FedEx’d or mailed or hand carried; the telephone was used. There were, pretty much,  no email efficiencies you could rely on. The web was there, sure, though not as it is today. And there was no Facebook–for either the adoption or reunification crowd.

Facebook has, in a way, become a character in both adoption and reunification. It’s kind of cool. But then, there might be a burden associated. As an aside, parents in general struggle over whether or not they should “friend” their teen or adult child on Facebook—and kids struggle with the same issue. Which, in effect, is privacy.

Over the past months to years, Facebook has become a player in adoption and reunification. For evidence (as though you needed any) read: Adoption 2.0: Finding Mom on Facebook in Time, Facebook Makes Adoption Easier for Prospective Parents in AdAge, and Facebook has changed adoption forever in the Guardian UK.

While news outlets report adoption news, or tell a human-interest story based on a family’s experience, once the report is done, it’s done. Sure a story lives online, but the reporter has moved on, and energy spent to promote the story is eventually (quickly) transferred somewhere else. Not so with Facebook (or personal blogs, for that matter—but blogs are less communal than Facebook is, and their feel is altogether different). Suddenly, private conversations are public, even exchanges that might seem innocuous are witnesses by all “Friends.” Getting tagged in a photo, then not responding can start up a conversation about why that person didn’t respond. This leads to questions…is everything okay? To some these exchanges (threads) are TMI, to others they are simply sweet. Nonetheless, they are public.

With Facebook, we are (to borrow the term from Seinfeld) masters of our domain. Or so we think. The domain is our evolving story of adoption, reunification, loss, legacy. It is another layer of an already complex process filled with issues of privacy and confidentiality. And there is a responsibility attached. Just as we know that keeping too much information private is harmful, might being too open with moment-to-moment updates and commentaries about this person’s emotion and that person’s reluctance—on Facebook, where all Friends can see and comment–hurt parties in a different way? Where is the balance? Is balance attainable, given the human need to bond and longing to connect, as well as feel we each have control over our life?

I might sound like I come from a bygone era. Eleven years is a long time. It will be interesting to see what comes after Facebook, and how that might make these issues Facebook poses seem like only a fraction in a grander scheme. It will likely not take another 11 years to get there, either.

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