Adoption STAR E-Book on Social Media and Adoption

Adoption STAR recently published an E-Book on Social Media and Adoption entitled “Adoption and Social Media: The Effects of Social Media and the Internet on Child Adoption.” The E-Book covers many topics, including performing an adoption search using social media, having an open adoption relationship using social media and keeping your children safe on the Internet.

To order your FREE copy of the Adoption STAR E-Book, please email

The chapter below focuses on using social media for an adoption search.

There are many possible adoption search outcomes, and it’s important to thoroughly think through each possibility beforehand. There’s no way to know how you will feel about each of these possible outcomes, but by talking about your feelings with loved ones and an adoption specialist, you can be better prepared.

If a birth family member contacts you unexpectedly, it’s important to take time and process all of the information before responding. If you are contacted via social media it may be necessary to research that the person contacting you is, indeed who they say they are.

Options if a Birth Family Member Contacts You Online

It can be a polarizing moment. You log into your social media account and there’s a notification that someone wants to be “friends with you.” You click the notification and see a name that may or may not be familiar. Maybe there is a message that comes along with this “friendship” request, or maybe you click on the profile for a minute and do some cursory research. Either way you eventually realize that this person who has sent you a friendship request has the possibility of being your birth child/birth family member.

What next?

It’s possible that you’ve been searching for this person online as well and they happened to find you first, or maybe what you originally thought was a meaningless notification has now become a crossroads moment in your life.

Hopefully when you are contacted, you are at least aware of your place in the adoption journey, and this request does not come as a complete shock. If unfortunately, that is your situation, your next step should be to have an open and honest conversation with whoever will have the most information about your adoption story. It’s important to gather information on this person who has contacted you to make sure he/she is who they say they are, and that they have found the right person online, which may be an issue if you have a common name.

If it’s not possible to speak with a family member with first-hand information, you may want to ask the person who contacted you for the name of their adoption agency. By contacting the agency you may be able to receive enough information to confirm the adoption story, or the agency may be able to lead you in the right direction to finding answers. Be aware however that the most you may find out is non-identifying information, but that information may confirm what you are looking for.

If you are aware that the person contacting you exists, then you have two major decisions to make:

1. Are you ready to have a relationship with this person?

2. If you are ready to have a relationship, are you comfortable with this relationship being through social media, where they can view information that you’d rather either keep private or share with them in person?

After receiving this social media invitation, you will probably feel a range of several emotions, including: thrilled, shocked, confused and many more. It’s best to step away from the computer and think about what the consequences will be of any decision you make regarding this “friendship” request. If there’s a family member or friend that you are particularly close to, this is the time to call on them. Don’t allow an online request to “rush” you into things. All too often we react with such speed to electronic requests; slow down, Process, identify an adoption professional or an adoption support group to get involved with and process this information with them.

Whether you decide to accept or decline this friendship request, it is best to respond with a personal message. It does not need to be long or in-depth, but if you are accepting the invitation, the message can serve as a good icebreaker. If you would like to have a relationship with this person outside of social media, you can always send a personal message back declining the invitation but inviting them to E-mail and/or telephone you.

E-mail is a great compromise if you’re uncomfortable having a social media relationship. By using E-mail you can still have real-time conversations and send photos back and forth without disclosing private information. If you’re very concerned about privacy, you can create a new E-mail account that is only used for these conversations.

If you’re just not ready to develop a relationship with your birth family, then that short personal message will at least give the recipient the peace of mind that you are thinking of them.

If you are uncomfortable being found via social media then please revisit the previous two sections of this E-Book, which show you how to make your profile private. You can also use the settings to limit how much information one of your social media “friends” sees.

Options If You Find a Birth Family Member Online?

Deciding to begin an adoption search is not something to do lightly. If you are an adoptive parent of an adolescent child, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open when it comes to adoption searches. Your child may be searching Facebook or other social media sites in an attempt to connect with their birth family. As a parent you will want to be involved in the search and speak with your child about all of the possible outcomes of an adoption search. It is also a good idea to speak, along with your child, with an adoption expert.

If you’re a birth family member who is searching for an adoptee who is still in his/her formative years (under the age of 18), you may want to find a way to contact their adoptive parent first. Adoption STAR recommends that adoptive parents begin discussing adoption with their children from the earliest of ages, however some adoptive parents may not receive or follow this advice. You do not want to assume that the child knows everything about their adoption journey, especially if they are younger.

You also want to be careful if you are an adoptee searching for a birth sibling. You cannot be sure that your birth parents have told their other children about your adoption story. Before contacting them it may be appropriate to reach out to your birth parents, if possible, and at least alert them to the fact that you hope to connect with your birth siblings.

To order your FREE copy of the Adoption STAR E-Book, please email