Social Media Etiquette in Adoption
It almost seems impossible today to carry on with our everyday lives without the presence of social media. From posts about outfits we wear and food we eat to more important issues like family or politics, we can record and share issues that are dear to us. Finding connections on social media has its benefits, but there are times when a post can muddle the line between informative and inappropriate. Putting our best foot forward when it comes to social media etiquette will benefit both the birth family and the adoptive family as they move ahead in adoption and the years to come.
1. No Delete ButtonWhen I worked in a school system with children on a daily basis, I focused heavily on ensuring that they understood that a post on social media is irrevocable. Once we put something out there for the world to see, the delete button only acts as a Band-Aid to cover the wound. The post has either already been seen and remembered or can be found again much later. The thoughts, pictures, or even friends we share have a finality that prompt us to be mindful of all that is out there. As a birth family or adoptive family that shares social media relationships, we must consider the other half of our family when the permanence of the internet is involved.
2. Make Privacy ImportantMy social media accounts are already set to private so that the information I care to share is only for certain people on my friends list. I am careful to only accept friend requests from people I personally know, and even then, the details of my life are not spelled out for all to see. When going through an adoption, you not only want to protect your information but also the information of your adopted child and his/her family. When choosing to share pictures and details of your adoption, only do what you believe to be respectful to all families involved.
3. Consider a Dedicated Adoption PageAs more adoptions are leaning toward an open or semi-open adoption, new ways of information sharing are being considered. Many times in years past, pictures and letters would be mailed to an adoption professional or social worker and families would receive these throughout the year. However, an easier and more accessible option now is to use social media to share pictures and updates about adopted children directly with their birth family. One of the best options when using social media is to create an account that is private and can only be seen by the adoptive family and birth family. This allows both families access to share and receive photos much faster and have a social media account that will record their correspondence for the adopted child to re-read someday.
4. Share Your DesiresIf you feel strongly about a certain aspect of social media when it comes to your adoption, find the time to share your thoughts. The first place to open up would be with your adoption professional. I always like to bounce ideas and even apprehensions off someone who could affirm what I was feeling or help me to reevaluate a better option. Then, if your adoption professional suggests that you take time to voice your desires to the birth/adoptive family, carefully discuss your feelings so expectations are known from the beginning.
5. Show RespectIf everything we posted online was done out of respect not only for ourselves but also for those who would be reading it, we would be a lot more careful with our words and probably post a lot less. Again, I had to remind the children that I worked with that if they were typing a post to go online, they should read and re-read their words before clicking to publish it. If their words could be misconstrued by someone, if they were showing a bad representation of themselves or their families, or if they would regret their words, or photos, tomorrow, then the post didn’t need to be made. The same advice goes for all parties involved in adoption, and what they choose to share on social media. Is it going to demean or leave an unfavorable portrayal of someone involved in your adoption? Would your child appreciate what you posted five or ten years from now? Are you showing the same respect that you want shown towards you? Social media can be such a resourceful and accessible tool that birth and adoptive families are able to use. Brushing up on common-sense social media etiquette will allow everyone involved to be certain of decent expectations and smoother relationships. Don’t be afraid to communicate with each other what type of social media presence you feel comfortable establishing as you embark on your adoption journey.
—Jill is a 32-year-old wife and mom. She has been married to her husband, Brannon, for eight years and has 5-year-old and 1-year-old daughters. Jill and her husband are currently in the adoption process to bring another baby into their home. Jill lives in a small community in Kentucky. She has her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Spanish and obtained her Master’s degree in Christian Ministries. Jill’s passions are her faith, her family, writing, playing sports, and eating good food.