Social media and other elements of new technology are instigating life-altering changes in every aspect of adoption. These historic shifts range from creating challenges and opportunities for child-placement, counseling, outreach and other professional practices; to facilitating search and reunion to an extent never before imagined; to complicating the ability of courts, agencies and parents to determine the nature of contact between minor children and members of their families of origin.
In short, for good and for ill, the Internet is rewriting the rules of adoption.
I’m writing today – along with my colleague at the Donaldson Adoption Institute, Dr. Jeanne Howard — to tell you a bit about (and ask your help on) an important new research project that Jeanne is leading for us. It is titled “Untangling the Web: The Internet’s Historic Impact on Adoption” and it aims to achieve several objectives over the three years we plan to devote to it (funding permitting):
- Gain a better understanding of what’s happening and its implications.
- Offer knowledge-based findings and recommendations on effective/best practices for all the affected professionals, families and individuals.
- Provide information and resources to enable all parties to deal more thoughtfully and effectively with the changes that are forever reshaping adoption.
Here’s how you can help: If you have examples, ideas or any other feedback from your professional or personal experience that could inform our work – issues in law, policy, practice or everyday life that we should be looking at, large and small – we would greatly appreciate hearing from you.
This means illustrations of how the Internet has improved or harmed aspects of adoption; stories of how social media have led to wonderful reunions or problematic ones; instances of positive, affirming communications or terrible ones (such as an abusive adult ignoring a court order and contacting a child) and whatever other issues you have seen, have concerns about, or think we need to research/address.
To share your input: Please send an email to this address: InternetProjectAI@gmail.com.
Let us know in your message whether we can contact you to get further details or clarification on the information you provide. Also, feel free to forward this blog – which also is being circulated as an emailed letter – to anyone on your own lists whom you think might be able to contribute. We will carefully review all messages and may use some as examples in our publications.
Your thoughts and examples will be invaluable to making this groundbreaking project a success, so thank you enormously in advance for taking the time to help.
Jeanne Howard, Research Director
Adam Pertman, Executive Director
Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute