There is no question that in this increasingly connected world the internet has changed the way we live. It has impacted nearly every aspect of our personal lives as well as the majority of our social systems.
Adoption has been particularly affected by the internet, in a myriad of different ways. As with everything, there are positive and negatives aspects to this shift. Studies are just beginning to offer a clearer view of precisely how the internet has changed adoption, but here is just an overview of the biggest findings from the recent Donaldson Adoption Institute research.
Risk of Exploitation
For the sake of offering the bad news first to get it out of the way, we’ll start with the negative. The internet has made adoption noticeably more commercialized and has created more opportunity for exploitation. There is now a higher risk for fraudulent, uncredited agencies to take advantage of both eager parents and expectant mothers. What’s worse, the internet is still a relatively new, constantly changing platform that is difficult to monitor and police. Luckily, more people are also aware of this looming threat. Research conducted by the Donaldson Institute found that more people are now concerned about misleading information, fraud, and even scams that pressure unwilling birthmothers to surrender their babies to illegitimate, for-profit agencies. This awareness is critical to ensure that everyone remains vigilant.
A Platform for Positive Connection
On a much more positive note, the internet has opened up a whole new way for everyone going through the adoption process to expand their network. There is now more support and many more informational resources available, 24/7, to adoptive parents, birthmothers, extended family, and anyone who has an interest in adoption. The report by the Donaldson Adoption Institute found that most adoptive parents, adopted adults, birth parents, and adoption professional reported numerous benefits of online support and resources. Most notably, the ability to make connections.
The Need for Caution
This report as well as numerous others has concluded that while the internet’s transformative impact on adoption has been largely positive, they urge caution on many fronts. In addition to the increase in fraudulent and inhumane activities of scammers, the internet has also allowed for more access to personal, private information. It is far easier for individuals to access data about biological families, adoptive families, and more that may be sensitive and unwanted. Again, the internet is incredibly hard to monitor and police as policymakers are still trying to catch up with the rapidly evolving technology.
The process of adoption has changed remarkably over time and the internet has further accelerated this change. There have been a lot of positive developments offered by the internet, most notably in the way that it allows people to make meaningful connections and access the insight and support they need. Of course, any online platform always come with risks. Everyone who is involved in the adoption process, from families to agency professionals, should use caution and common sense.