Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Viral Adoption Situations (and what the real story is)

Our world has been impacted dramatically with the internet and particularly social media. Information, networking, and advice is literally at our fingertips and as close as our laptop or cell phone.

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The adoption world is no exception. There are groups specifically for hopeful adoptive families for support, encouragement, and advice. You can access agency information and reviews, blogs and articles on the vast array of adoption topics, and even advertise as a potential adoptive family to expectant families.

Instead of heading to the library for information, you can search google in seconds. And rather than attending a local support group, you can join any number of groups online to connect with others on the same journey. Just like anything online, the information is a mixed bag. But how do you know if the information you're getting is accurate or the best available?

The danger of viral situations

One of the biggest dangers I've seen in the last few years popping up often is viral adoption situations. These are situations, often posted by an agency, attorney, or adoption professional (I use that term very loosely) of an expectant family who need to be matched with an adoptive family (or a child/children available for adoption). In my experience, in general if you've come across an adoption situation online, there are often significant red flags. The information shared is minimal and the post is shared with thousands of people (sometimes even more).

A recent adoption situation that went viral was shared 3.7 million times. The business who shared the post admitted they had thousands of responses, couldn't keep up, and were backlogged for phone calls of people interested in signing up with their business for weeks to come. It's worth noting that these situations can easily become marketing strategies. Also worth noting: any reputable and ethical agency or attorney will already have contacts with adoptive families who are home study ready to be matched. (I want to note however, there are unique circumstances where sharing a situation online might be very appropriate: specifically when there is a little one with special needs who needs a specific family to step in to provide care. In these cases it often makes sense for adoption professionals to get the word out to find the perfect family to care for the child.)

So, how do you protect yourself?

First, make sure you're working with the right people. Anyone can pass on situations they've heard about, but do they know the agency or attorney working with the expectant/birth family? Adoption professionals with years of experience can help you spot red flags, ask the right questions, and protect you from risky situations.

Second, make sure the expectant family is working with the right people. What agency/attorney is the expectant/birth family working with? Are they reputable and ethical?  Are they offering them care and counseling (both pre and post birth)? Ensuring the expectant/birth family has access to services is critical not just for a successful adoption, but an ethical one.

Finally, be cautious when stepping into situations. Do you have all of the information necessary to know you want to present to the situation? Do you have access to important medical/social history? Also, beware of hidden fees: is there a fee associated with presenting? Ensuring you have all of this information allows you to be fully informed and prepared.

Curious about where to start or how to get help on your adoption journey? Christian Adoption Consultants can walk with you! We are a team of adoption professionals who work to serve hopeful adoptive families as they navigate the complexities in adoption. Our team is made up of adoptive families and social workers with decades of experiences. We have experience serving as case managers, birth parent counselors, and even agency directors with knowledge regarding state laws, how adoption agencies operate, and years of relationship building with agencies and attorneys across the country. With this, Christian Adoption Consultants can speak from a place of experience and authority in the adoption field and has helped hundreds of families successfully adopt. 


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