Tuesday Topic: Are You Friends with Birth Family on Facebook?

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Here is an interesting question for all of us. It comes from Jennifer who asks,

I recently found my daughter’s birthmom on Facebook. We adopted internationally and met her birthmom when we traveled. Our agency has closed and so we know she doesn’t receive updates, photos, etc. She most likely only has very occasional access to FB, but it seems like it might be a way to let her stay updated and not lose contact with her as our daughter gets older. Have others become FB friends with birth family? How has it gone? Benefits, pitfalls, thoughts?

Social media has changed our lives in so many ways. How has it changed relationships with your children’s birth families? I’m looking forward to a really interesting discussion here today.

What are your thoughts? Do you see benefits? How about pitfalls? Have you experienced this or wonder if you will in the future?

Leave a comment and let us know – we want to hear from you.

If you have a question for a Tuesday Topic, email it to me at: lisa@onethankfulmom.com  Please put Tuesday Topic in the subject line so it doesn’t get lost in the abyss of my inbox.

Encourage one another,

Lisa

 

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

0 Comments

  1. Gretchen Hayes
    December 3, 2013

    Originally I really thought it was great. I don't want to meet my birthmother but allowing her to have some contact on Facebook seemed like a good way to have some contact. However after awhile she began posting alot and sending me messages all the time. I don't tell most people I'm adopted and so some of the stuff she wrote caused other people to start asking questions. If you do it then laying out rules first is a good idea. Do you want them publicly posting things etc. I had to stop the contact because it was way too much and I was not comfortable with it.

    Reply
  2. Emily B
    December 3, 2013

    My hesitation is that any photos you post on Facebook can be downloaded, printed, shared, etc. If you are okay with the bio family having full access to all the photos–and okay with them using the photos however they want–go ahead. If you don't mind them reading everything your friends post to you and comment on, go ahead.
    If you want to have more control and more privacy, I would suggest creating a separate account to use specifically with the bio family. You can post photos and updates there just for them. That way they don't have full access to everything you post on your regular Facebook account.
    Our adoption is closed for safety reasons. My kids have a bio family that is very dangerous. However, I do keep silent track of them on Facebook, as they have no privacy settings. They have taken all the photos they got from the foster mom when the kids were in foster care, and they use them to weave a web of lies surrounding the kids. They use the photos to paint themselves as model parents and citizens, when this is not the case at all.
    I know that not all bio parents are like this. I'm adopted, and my own bio mom is wonderful and would never do anything out of line. But this is not the case for many. Just be careful.

    Reply
    1. Bee
      December 4, 2013

      This is our situation as well, and it's why we have the bio-mom's family blocked on Facebook. (My husband is my daughter's bio-dad.) She came to us from an abusive and neglectful environment and the family on the bio-mom's side is dangerous and are drug users, etc. We keep track of them through a mutual friend who has them on her Facebook just for this purpose…bio-mom uses her page as a sounding board to paint us as evil people and like you said "weave a web of lies" about all her kids. (All of them were signed over to family members of the various bio-fathers.) She posts old pictures and acts as if they're current and that she has interaction with her children, and has not told anyone on her Facebook that she hasn't had her children in years.

      We tried in the beginning to have some open lines of communication, but it just did not work in our situation and our daughter wanted no part of it. When her PTSD started triggering continuously, we shut all communication down.

      Reply
  3. Dawn
    December 3, 2013

    I am a birthmother and I am Facebook friends with both my teenage daughter and her mother. I am also an adoptive parent myself so I think I understand boundaries better than most. My children's birthmother would not be a safe or appropriate "friend" to have, but I would love for her to have the ability to see pictures of her children. I think the safest way to do this would be to set up a separate profile and "friend" just the birth mother and my regular profile. I know there is a way to customize who is able to see your posts, but that becomes a hassle if you have to remember to change the settings every time you post. Tagging the other "fake" profile in the photos you want her to see would be an easier way.

    Reply
  4. Dawn
    December 3, 2013

    The one thing I would like to encourage everyone with is that if you made a promise to give regular updates and pictures to the birthmother – whatever that promise was – that you HONOR your commitment. It is SO IMPORTANT to a birthmother's healing process to be able to see that she made the right choice and also know that her child is growing up and growing into your family. It enables her to move past the pain of losing a baby and process that she also gave a life to a thriving child, a cherished adolescent, and eventually a capable adult. Peace.

    Reply
  5. Laine
    December 3, 2013

    I think it really depends on the situation. We have 7 childre, all adopted. Two sets of biological siblings and three children who were adopted individually. We have email contact with the biological aunt of two of our boys. She is a good connection to their past and we email pictures back and forth. Their birth mom is still into drugs and the lifestyle that brought them into foster care and adoption so she is not a good connection to the past. We do have cards she had sent sporadically through the past via a social worker, which we have set aside for when we feel the time is right to share with the boys. Our other set of siblings has contact with a foster mom they bonded with. We keep in touch via FB, email, phone calls and letters. She is a good connection to the past. Two of our children have no contact with anyone from their past life, although one daughter thinks she found her birth mom and one sister (she was adopted as an infant and has no memories of her birth family) on FB. She tried to reach out to them but they did not respond. Our other daughter (adopted as an infant) found her birth mom this year. We had hoped it would be a good thing for her but unfortunately it has not been. She chose to leave her family connections from her youth and her husband and his family (and almost her two children) to "re-live" her childhood with her birth mom. We have minimal contact with her now-her choice, not ours. So we pray and try to patiently wait upon the Lord to help guide her through this confusing time in her life.

    Reply
  6. Kaci
    December 3, 2013

    I wonder if a limited profile would be beneficial in this case. Then you can be very intentional about what you share and don't share. Facebook has great privacy settings where you can tailor what one specific person sees.

    Reply
  7. A.L.
    December 3, 2013

    Interesting discussion! We are returning a foster child to mom soon and I must admit to google-ing her name and also looking her up on facebook. I don't know if I'd want to be "friends" on my personal facebook…maybe a second account…but then maybe an extra email address with pictures/updates would work just as well.

    Reply
  8. Bev
    December 3, 2013

    I'd vote for caution as well. We have been down many paths of varying difficulties with our children's other families. My general wisdom after all of that is that it is somewhat pointless to completely close off contact because then it becomes an issue that will most certainly become larger with time.

    I also resonate with the idea that regardless of the ability to parent, I want to give the birth parents the benefit of my belief in their love for their children. I also like the idea that no one can have too many people who love them. So I like the idea of healthy contact and less secrecy.

    That said, there have to be openings for boundaries to be created when they are necessary in order to maintain healthy relationships. I'm not sure facebook has the kind of options for boundaries that I would like to have available.

    Facebook wasn't an option when my kids were young. Now my kids are adults and have control over their own relationships with their other families. But we did have to eventually get an unlisted phone number when one of our sons was young because his birth mother could not respect our boundaries about phone calls. She did love her son. She did want to respect us. But the self control was not there.

    Reply
  9. Deborah
    December 3, 2013

    Obviously this is a situation by situation issue….. here is what worked for me…… an "anonymous" (ie. Jane Doe) facebook account that is very very private and very very controlled. Friends with bio family there and NO WHERE ELSE….. pics posted there are very carefully considered (background? others in the pics? etc). Block personal ("real") facebook account from anon-account and vice versa, as well as blocking bio's from real account. This made it very very easy to shut down the account when bio mom went "off her rocker" for a while….. and then to reactivate when things blew over!

    Reply
  10. Kim
    December 3, 2013

    There are other means of online communication that work very well. We have a private page through Shutterfly that allows us to post photos and updates and the birth mom can comment on them, download, or even order them straight from the site. Also, email has been a great tool, more specifically the google+ hangouts app on our phones. Allows us to text back and forth without giving private info and you can even text photos. In our case, the birth mom is a little more reluctant for fb contact or phone numbers (although we know each other's addresses). Texting is our communication of choice 🙂

    Reply
  11. Maria
    December 3, 2013

    We have internationally adopted children and agreed at the time of adoption (agency still alive and well) to no contact with birthparents except through the agency.Our children may search once they turn 18. All that said, I have "found" one of my children's birthmom with a FB account on the internet. I must however keep my hands off asking for FB friendship etc to protect everyone involved and not violate the possibilities of adoption for children of that country to our country.

    I realize there are adoptions where the legal requirements are not as strict as this. Just want to remind everyone to check out what we agreed to at the time of adoption before even considering contacting birthparents! I assume we would have to ask "our" birthmother to wait until our child is 18 if she were to contact us through social media to be on the safe side …

    Reply
    1. Sarah
      December 3, 2013

      Hi Maria! Just curious, is it a legal requirement of the country you adopted from for there to be no direct contact between birth and adoptive families? And how often do the agency facilitate contact between the two families? It seems an unnecessarily strict and harsh rule to have for all involved, though I obviously agree that if that's the law then there's no choice but to abide by it! Thanks for sharing 🙂

      Reply
  12. SleepyKnitter
    December 3, 2013

    We found the FB page of one of our children’s birth parents (in our closed adoption) with no security settings, and we use Google Translate to read it. Her photos makes me weep for wanting to connect with her, but we cannot. We don’t know if her new husband knows about this child, and in that culture, the news could be devastating. We have to be very careful about looking at her page as FB will suggest us as ‘Friends’ for her if we check too often. I am convinced that she loves her child and will want to reconnect with her, based on her unusually nurturing responses toward the child while the child was in the orphanage (in that orphanage, most birth mothers are never heard from again), but we have to leave that up to her. As for whether it is a good idea to reconnect, I don’t know. She appears to be “safe” in so many ways, but she is from a very different spiritual culture than her child is growing up in. I don’t know — lots of complex issues, as usual! 🙂

    Reply
  13. anonymous
    December 3, 2013

    I am so glad this topic came up. Our son was adopted internationally. He has a father, but the father had no relationship with the boy, until it appeared we would have a court date soon. Then, all of a sudden, he wanted to see the boy and establish that he indeed is the father. On the one hand it was necessary because the father to come to court. However, from my perspective there was more to it than met the eye. When we were still in country, the father called and wanted money…. We, of course, denied the request. It simply wasn't right.

    The impression that I have is that the father now wants contact with the boy, so he will later provide money to him. So, when the FB friend request came, we simply ignored it. But it has been gnawing at me, because I don't want our son to ever think that we refused contact for sake of refusing contact. But we truly don't trust the motivation of the father.

    I would love to receive any advice that can be offered.

    Reply
  14. Kate S.
    December 3, 2013

    We have an open relationship with our only child's birth family through a domestic adoption. After meetings before birth and during the extended stay in the hospital during and after birth, we became very comfortable with the birth parents and foresee our relationship/friendship growing over the next 10+ years. With that said, we all agreed to not be 'friends' on Facebook since there are extended 'friends of friends' that can often see photos we're tagged in or a status link, etc. So in as much as we felt comfortable with our daughter's birth parents, we weren't ready for our relationship to be put on the web for all to see. We use a Facebook group and mutually post pictures, updates on life, etc.

    Reply
    1. Sarah
      December 3, 2013

      That sounds like a great system! 🙂

      Reply
  15. Alyssa
    December 3, 2013

    Our son is adopted through foster care. I have never met his bio mom, but we have contact and visits with half siblings and "grandparents" who are raising the siblings. They keep me updated on his bio mom. I look at her facebook page which she posts on sporadically. I have saved pics of hers and a post on which she wrote letters to her children (heartbreaking). I have also found my son's bio dad that he never met, pics of more half siblings etc. I haven't shown them to him yet as I don't think he's ready and he doesn't even know there's now another baby, but it helps me understand more about his background and how I can pray for them and he can see the pictures some day.

    Reply
  16. Acceptance with Joy
    December 3, 2013

    I have a separate email account for my children's birth mother. She would have me email pictures to her daily. When I don't answer her persistent constant flow of emails she begs to know why I am mad at her. All her emails say the same exact thing, but she wants new information on the twins constantly. I have taken emailing her a picture or two every three months or so and the once a year visit. when she wanted facebook contact I drew the line. My kiddos don't want any contact with her period. I feel sorry for her and so I am in contact with her. At some time the twins will have a choice about the once a year visit.

    Reply
  17. mikeandkatie1
    December 4, 2013

    I am friends with one of my daughter's birth uncle on FB. His parents and sister aren't on FB. The other daughter's family we have no contact with because of birhtmom's choice. I also created a blog to keep them updated when we first adopted. I don't know if they read it or not but since I have shared it with them, I am always careful about what I post on there. I am always careful about what I like and comment on on FB as well.

    So far, it has been good. It's nice to know him better and get to see pictures of their family on occasion. They are a very stable family and I don't feel it's risky.

    Reply
  18. mikeandkatie1
    December 4, 2013

    I did create a separate account for my daughter and I tag pictures of her for her birth family. That way they don't have to wade through 20 pictures of one of the other girls eating a sweet potato pie on her first birthday. 😉 In order to do that I had to adjust her age per FB regulations.

    Reply
  19. daysofwonderandgrace
    December 4, 2013

    We do. My youngest daughter's twin sister is being raised by and adoptive family in the girls' birth country and after travelling to reunite the girls and meet them in person, then agreeing, mutually, to blog to keep up, they decided to switch to FB for the convenience for them. FB works for my husband and my MIL to keep up, as they both have FB accounts, but I do not have an account, ironically, because I feel like I have more privacy for my family blogging on the Internet with pseudonyms than I would have on FB, using my real name, which as an author –and to connect with people who know me IRL –I would need to do. So that's my somewhat cowardly confession: I'd actually have a more dynamic relationship for my daughter with her twin sister if I could just get over my FB qualms.

    Reply

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