Written by Blake Reynolds and Sharon Williams
Social media, with it’s many layers and webs of connection, has changed the game when it comes to keeping families updated, supported, and in-the-know. The bullet points of stale life-updates that have formally been relayed over the telephone, are now embellished and brought to life through sharing photos, videos, and day-to-day experiences through outlets like Facebook, Instagram, or blogging.
With over 1.5 million adopted children in the United States, representing 2.5 percent of all U.S. children, we know that families no longer look the same as they did 50 years ago. On any given day in the U.S., more than 423,000 children are in the foster care system, and nearly 115,000 of them are available for adoption, just waiting for the right family to find them. Social media is changing the way many families are approaching the process of adoption and how they are connecting with their new extended families. In fact, studies show that roughly two thirds or 67% of social media users say that staying in touch with friends and family members is one of the main reasons they use social media sites. Social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Google Hangouts, Instagram and Periscope have allowed personal stories to be seen, read, and shared by those in our networks (and beyond).
Whether it’s a fundraising effort to raise the last few thousand of your adoptive fees, or finding a support group with other families that have adopted, social media has made our world much, much smaller. We asked several adoptive families a few questions about how social media affected their journey of adoption.
Candace and Justin Evans set out to adopt Mathias from Ethiopia in October of 2013, and now, 2 years later, their adoption has been fully funded, this little boy is growing up connected, and his parents are raising him supported by networks of other adoptive parents; all these things are in some way due to social media.
“During the beginning stages, social media was an amazing tool to get the word out and get people excited. To this day, the most traffic I’ve had on social media was due to adoption updates and people getting excited about our progress. One of the best things social media did for our family was connect us to others going through the adoption process. There is a great tribe of adoptive families and I can be connected to them all online.”
This connectivity, this shareability, has changed the way we see into another person’s life. Instead of face-value, social media opens the door into another person’s day-to-day life, struggles, highs and lows, etc. This kind of transparency is what families and friends value as they observe your journey. Social media makes that a daily reality.
Lori from A Day in Motherhood shares her story about how she connected with her birth siblings after being adopted at the age of 8. She waited her entire life to reconnect to her birth family and now uses social media as a way to stay connected to their lives.
While exact numbers are not known, anecdotal evidence suggests that increasing numbers of adopted people and their birth families are finding each other through social networking sites.
People need support in all seasons of life and circumstances. The process of adoption is no different. You may find that the people who have always walked with you cannot be the support you need in this area. Finding people with similar experiences is a pivotal part of your journey.
Matt from MattandTodd.com says that during their first adoption, they used Yahoo! Groups and Twitter to find other people who were either going through or had recently gone through the same process.
“We formed some pretty strong relationships because of our connection through those platforms. Many of these families are people I’ve never met, but we’ve stayed close over the years because of our common stories and experiences. In the past few years, there has been a shift to private Facebook groups, Skype, Google Hangouts and Instagram where families are connecting.”
The adoption process is something that people are fascinated with but don’t always understand. Social media offers outsiders the opportunity to observe the process… all the ups and downs of the journey!
Matt also shared with us how his blog has created a community of supporters around both of their international adoptions, saying “Some of my best friends are fellow adoptive parents that we’ve never even met in person. We were connected over social media and now sustain our friendship through the same platforms.” Candace Evans also shares that sometimes she “finds herself in tears texting some of my social media (adoptive momma) friends during the hard parts of adoption and cheering with them to celebrate the wins!”
Many adoptive families are turning to online fundraising platforms such as GoFundMe and Kickstarter, in addition to standard methods, to raise the money needed to fund their adoptions. These same families use social media to educate their friends and families of their needs and to receive donations from people who may have never heard about the adoption due to distance.
Candace Evans says she kept everyone updated with a financial goal chart, explaining “I think people really got on board with us and were rooting for us”.
Social media, with it’s many layers of networking, has made this world of adoption feel less out-of-reach and more obtainable. With support groups, fundraising awareness capabilities, and the simple confidence you feel from encouraging comments on posts, social media outlets like Instagram, Facebook, and blog networks have made our world a little more connected.
How have you used social media to help you connect during an adoptive process?
>> Advice and guidlines when usuing social media in your adoption process: http://www.adoptionstar.com/adoption-and-social-media
>> Using social media to promote your adoption: http://adoption.com/using-social-media-to-promote-your-adoption
>> Additional Resources: http://www.adoptivefamiliescircle.com/
About the Authors:
Blake Reynolds is a creative with hands in design, photography, blogging, and marketing. Blake’s love for all things visual has embedded in her a desire to use design, photo, color, and aesthetic to communicate a message creatively and effectively. Her passions lie in using creativity to inspire others around her to become more of their truest selves, walking out confidently in their own unique purpose and ability. Connect with Blake: thecolourjournal.com
Sharon Williams has been blogging since 2009 and understands that it takes a community to become a better blogger, writer and photographer. Sharon grew up in the rolling hills of central Kentucky where she continues to live with her husband and three kids. She enjoys hiking, working in the flower gardens and continually improving her photography skills.
Connect with Sharon: www.hobbiesonabudget.com; @hobbiesbudget