Adoption and the internet: Benefits and hazards

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Author: 
Harriet Fancott
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Benefits

Adoption Research: The Internet offers a world library of resources from studies and reports to articles and personal stories at your fingertips.

Information Sharing: Chat rooms and email listservs allow parents and prospective adopters to get the straight goods from people going through the process, bounce ideas off each other and discuss ideas. It’s cheaper and you can access a much larger pool of people that you can in person.

Connecting with Family: Adoptive parents can email birth parents short hellos and family updates eliminating the need to psyche up for a phone call or put pen to paper.

News: The Internet allows instant access to articles pertaining to adoption without racing out to buy a paper whether it be the New York Times, the Globe and Mail, or the Vancouver Sun.

Response: Letters to the editor are sent with the click of a mouse making getting your views to the media much faster and easier. Who really has time or inclination to write, stamp, and send anymore?

Advocacy: The AFABC has used the Web to gather support and awareness around critical adoption issues such as Employment Insurance. A tax credit web site was designed and a lobbying effort initiated through a listserv by people who has never seen each other face-to-face.

Intercountry Connection: The Internet has become so prevalent that many orphanages are now online allowing older adoptees to keep in touch with peers.

Children Profiles: Controversial yes. But powerful nonetheless. Used with care, child profiles is a powerful tool for finding families for children in need of homes.

Alternate Family Forms: If you’ve ever felt like you or your family didn’t belong, the World Wide Web is proof positive that, there people just like you out there. Websites, listservs, and resources geared to single parents, same-sex families, and multiracial families are all there.

Search: Countless adoptees and birthparents have tracked each other down using the power of the Internet.

Hazards

Inaccurate Information: Let’s face it, almost anyone can a build website and put just about anything on it. There is no concerted mechanism to check all the information in cyberspace to see if it’s true. It’s up to you.

Unscrupulous Operators: Due to the transient nature of the Internet and the fact that anyone can build a site with no forwarding address or phone number, the web is ripe for shady usage. It’s very easy to pull a disappearing act in cyberspace. Not so easy in person.

Child Profiles: Child profiles pull at the heart strings and can cause parents to make hasty decisions based on inaccurate information. The result can, in extreme cases, lead to illegal actions.

Impersonality of the Internet: Adoption is about people. On listservs and in chat rooms, you are dealing with people you’ve never met before. In addition, the information they provide may be false. E-people are no subsitute for real people who can offer guidance and support and friendship over the long haul.

Instantaneous Nature: The immedicay of the Internet can make people impatient and unwilling to slow down, breath, and take the necessary steps to prepare for the lifelong commitment of adoption.