Adoption Reunion on Social Media

posted by Lynn Grubb

The Adoptee Survival Guide author meet-up: (left to right) Paige Adams Strickland, Becky Drinnen, Lynn Grubb, Wendy Barkett (March 19-20, 2015, Columbus, OH)

It’s been an amazing whirlwind taking part in a momentous change in adoption law in my home state of Ohio.  From the walk to Vital Statistics, to the Adoption Law Event, March 20th will be forever etched in many of our hearts and minds. What has transpired since that time has been nothing short of amazing.

The opening of adoptees’ birth certificates (1964-1996) has made the national news and an Ohio adoption story was featured on Nightline, http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/video/womans-journey-find-birth-mother-part-30692915

One of the things I have been seeing repeatedly on Facebook in these new reunions is how social media is now affecting reunion both positively and negatively.

When I reunited with my birth mother in 2006, everything was done by letter (snail mail) as that was a requirement of the adoption agency. Of course people have been using the internet for years to discover public information, find photos in on-line yearbooks and for genealogy research.  The internet has changed search and reunion forever — allowing us to find information much quicker than the old days of looking through books at the library.

Genetic genealogy has created a whole new set of etiquette and best practices for contact with DNA cousins and asking for help in tracing ancestors.

New decisions pop up when you can find your mother or siblings on Facebook before you have met any of them face to face in real life.

Should I message her on Facebook and pay the extra $1.00 so the message does not go to her Other Folder? Should I friend request him and invite him/her into my social media life?

Should I send him a letter at home?  Certified mail or regular mail?  Call her first?  Should I use a third party?  All these questions and many decisions to be made in hopes for a positive reunion.

It seems there are no hard and fast rules and everybody has an opinion.  A few guidelines that many with experience have shared:

You want to keep the person’s information confidential from anyone except the person you are hoping to connect with. Going to a third party (i.e. other family member) before you have contacted your birth parent directly can have a negative affect on the outcome.

Allow yourself time to absorb new information before making a knee-jerk reaction.  And remember the person you are connecting with is being taken by surprise.

Have a group of supportive people to talk to about the ups and down of reunion.  If you do not receive a warm welcome from the family member, don’t give up hope. Grieve that your expectation was not met and hang on to your supportive friends and family.  There will be other opportunities with other family members in the future.

Take your time when planning to meet face to face. Nothing wrong with exchanging letters and photos over a period of time to slowly get to know the other party.

Write notes of the new information you learn especially any medical history you learn.   It’s easy to be overwhelmed with emotions and forget what the other person said.  Journaling along the way to process your feelings is also helpful.

Trust your instincts.  If something does not feel right, listen to your gut.  If you are not ready to take the next step, wait until it feels right.

Enjoy the ride!