Everyone is at it. Kids, retirees, business people — they’re all using the internet to find information, make connections and be entertained. What benefits are available for those involved in the adoption circle? Is there a way this unique group can find support through their connectivity?
Anyone experiencing an aspect of adoption can benefit from support at one time or another. Adoptive parents may need help coping with infertility, or perhaps they want to learn about costs, processes and success stories around adoption. Birth parents often want support prior to a reunion, or they may be seeking understanding for their decisions. Adoptees sometimes need input when dealing with the desire to connect with their birth family or to share their experience and feel accepted by other adoptees.
Whatever the reason, the internet is a great source of support. So don’t sit alone wondering who to turn to for answers, information and advice — get on your computer and connect with others who can help.
Where to start? Assess personal experiences and boundaries.
- Where do you fit in the adoption circle? An out-of-Canada adult adoptee searching for their birth family needs very different support than a new adoptive dad who isn’t sure when to start the adoption conversation
- Are there deep issues that need exploration or do you want the ability to skim over your experience and share briefly?
- Be honest about how much privacy you need to be comfortable. A birth mom now in her 70s will have a different sense of privacy than a tech-savvy 22 year old
- How much interaction do you want, if any?
- Are you more interested in support from people or through information?
Support in the online world
With an understanding of your personal needs, let’s explore what the online world can do for you:
- Start a blog. This isn’t as hard as you might think! With free tools like Wordpress, blogging is open to everyone and allows you to talk about anything and everything. You can control comments and feedback and use a pseudonym but you are live on the internet, and fully accessible.
- Find groups on Facebook or Twitter. Type "adoption" into the search window on Facebook — there are numerous groups you can join. Similarly on Twitter, there are hundreds of conversations going on about adoption! These are moderately open mediums — after all, you’re adding information to the internet — but they are less revealing than blogging and allow you to "lurk" before joining in. The nature of these tools limits you to brief conversations but access to a wide range of people
- Find a forum. Forums are often part of larger websites which allow you to interact with others online. There is some privacy with forums, but again, you are putting information on the internet for others to see. Non-specific user names can preserve some of your anonymity and like social media, there is the ability "lurk" as well as interact.
- Access sites that provide resources online. You couldn’t possibly take in all the information available so make sure you focus on a region and specific need. "Adoptive parents support group British Columbia" is a better search engine entry than "adoption help". A good source of information is at the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development site. From counselling to success stories, find it at mcf.gov.bc.ca/adoption. The Adoption Council of Canada also offers diverse information including their "Parent to Parent" manual located at adoption.ca
Searching through information sites allows a great deal of control. You choose whether to send an email, become a member or just look around. This option provides a large volume of information with limited interaction
- Find listings of offline resources. Some prefer less technology but can still find specific resources by searching online.
- Search for face-to-face support groups and counselling. When you need personal interaction, start with an online search. Support groups like those provided through the Forget Me Not Society at adoptioncircles.net/ make finding a group in your area easier. If one-on-one counselling is what you’re after, try a general therapist directory like therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/state/British+Columbia.html. Many specialize in adoptionStay in touch with those you already know through Facebook, Twitter, Skype and other online tools. You sacrifice a bit of privacy, but if you monitor what you speak about in public forums, the online world can allow you to stay in touch with little concern
Of course another great source for help is our very own site at bcadopt.com! Here you can find support groups, access to one-on-one support and a wide range of information.
No matter what part of the adoption circle you’re in, if you need support, identify your needs and boundaries to make connecting online a wonderful experience.