I recently began a job as Community Moderator for Adoptive Families Circle, which is the online community for Adoptive Families magazine. I am very excited to have this opportunity to help others in their adoption journey. Adoption is my favorite topic, and helping others who will or have adopted is my true passion. I thought I had plenty of enough knowledge to bring to the table in order to assist the online community. Wow, was I wrong.
There is much more adoption information out there in cyber land than I had imagined. My mind is overflowing with all the resources available to those researching adoption, those in the process or those who have adopted. When I was pursuing my adoptions, there wasn’t nearly this much information available and I was still overwhelmed. It’s no wonder the new people who attend my monthly adoption support group sometimes have no clue how to begin their adoption journey. It is very easy to be confused and intimidated by the abundance of online adoption information available.
To help those of you who are overwhelmed with the various types of resources available online, below I list and describe some of the basic resources you may want to use. Actually, some of it is not too “basic” unless you are online quite a bit. Luckily for me, I am married to a computer geek who I can ask computer questions to. But if you aren’t a geek or a spouse of a geek, then you may appreciate an explanation of some of the most common online resources available.
If you are reading this then you have found at least one adoption blog. I have done my best to try to keep this blog as informative as possible. I have no interest in creating a “Mommy Blog” where I write about what adorable things my children say or how we spent out day together. My purpose with this Three Yellow Roses blog is draw from my own adoption experiences and use them to write informative articles that I hope will help others. Another good example of an informative adoption blog is one that is written by a birth mother.
Not all adoption blogs are like this. From searching around, I estimate about 95% of the adoption blogs fall more into the memoir /mommy blog category. People have created these blogs to share details of their adoption journey with their loved ones. They are very helpful to read if you want to learn about the emotions involved with some of the adoption steps. If they are a parent already then most of the entries will be about the joys of parenthood with adoption mentioned here and there. A popular adoption mommy blog is written by a woman who has a very open relationship with her child’s birth mother.
An Internet forum, or message board, is an online discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages.
There are many adoption forums online. While some are private for those working with a specific agency, there are many more open to the public. You can find forums on topics such as researching adoption, creating profiles, waiting for a referral from China, how to talk to potential birth parents, bonding with your new child and talking about adoption to your child’s school. If you have a question about any step of adoption, there is a forum to ask it in. When you are researching agencies, forums are a great place to ask for opinions. For example, if you wrote, “Has anyone here used XYZ adoption agency?” then you’ll be sure to get a few personal messages (PM) sent your way.
Once you select an agency or lawyer, be sure to ask if they have a private forum for the families they are working with. This is a great way to ask questions of those farther in the process than you, to see how satisfied people are and to meet others in your geographical area for play groups for your future child.
It can be difficult to find an active forum where the responses aren’t coming from lawyers or agencies pressuring you to use their services. The two main forums I refer people to are Adoptive Families Circle and Adoption.com, neither of which are run by an adoption agency or lawyer.
A group is an informal and voluntary gathering of individuals online to exchange ideas, information, and suggestions on needs, problems, subjects, etc., of mutual interest.
These are very similar to forums in that you can have online discussions with others in the adoption community. However, a group will have a more specific focus. Examples of groups’ focus can be: for families who have adopted from a particular region in Russia; for those adopting in Birmingham, Alabama; for those who are single adoptive parents; or for those who have adopted children with hearing loss. Sometimes the groups, like at Adoptive Families Circle, are open to anybody to join and sometimes the groups, like at Yahoo, are private. In order to join the private groups, you just apply to become a group member.
The benefits of a group is that you know up front that all the discussions will be specific to your interest. If you are in a Transracial Families group, then the pictures people post will be of families that look like yours. If you are in a same-sex adoptive parent group, then you know you can write openly about your family without people attacking your values. An adoption group can be a wonderful place to write about more personal concerns or issues since the other members share your specific adoption interest. The ease of getting more personal may be why I know many people who have made lifelong friends with others whom they met online in adoption groups.
A webinar is a specific type of web conference which is typically one-way, from the speaker to the audience with limited audience interaction. A webinar can be collaborative and include polling and question & answer sessions to allow full participation between the audience and the presenter.
Why spend money and travel to see an adoption expert in person when you can do the same from your laptop? It’s cheaper and more comfortable to listen to an adoption expert speak about open adoption from the comfort of your own home. You’ll have a lot more choices for topics when you don’t limit yourself to your geographical region. I ran across a website, which has a lot of webinars listed for those in any step of the adoption process. This may be a good first step for you to take when pursuing adoption as it could be like your own consult with an adoption professional. The live webinars allow you to type in questions and the professional will answer it online. I think this is a great way to connect the adoption community together in order to share information. Be sure to ask your agency if they offer any webinars, as more and more are doing so.
A podcast is a series of digital media files (either audio or video) that are released episodically and often downloaded through web syndication.
If you don’t have time to sit in front of your computer to listen or read about adoption, then a podcast may be best for you. You just need to download the podcast to your MP3 player to listen and learn about adoption while driving to work or walking around your neighborhood. A lot of the adoption podcasts I found were free as they wanted to get the proper information to those who need it. Two that I thought were very well done were by foster parents and by a birth mother/adoptive mother.
Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read other users’ messages called “tweets.” Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author’s profile page.
I was not overly familiar with Twitter until recently, but now that I am in charge of the Adoptive Families Circle account I have jumped in with both feet. I was shocked how much adoption information is out on Twitter. Many adoption agencies, lawyers, organizations and professionals have Twitter accounts and post daily links to useful articles and resources. I had thought of Twitter only as a place where you can read how your co-worker likes to drink his coffee each morning or when Ashton Kutcher chooses to blow his nose. Never did I ever think of Twitter as an adoption resource. You can go to twitter.com and search for the keyword “adoption” to view all the recent tweets (entries) about adoption. You can go to a reputable Twitter account, like Adoptive Families Circle or dani_adoption (my account), and view their “followers” or who they “follow.” This can be a great starting place to find timely adoption information – all in 140 characters or less!
Facebook is a social networking website with more than 500 million active users in July 2010. Users can add people as friends and send them messages, and update their personal profiles to notify friends about themselves. Additionally, users can join networks organized by workplace, school, or college.
Did you know that many organizations have Facebook pages? On these pages, they’ll share information like upcoming events or informative articles. Once you click the “Like” button on their page, their updates will appear automatically on your Home page. Do a search for “adoption” and you find pages, such as the one for Adoptive Families.
There are also Facebook groups which you can join. View the Adoptive Families Facebook group to see how it’s different than their Facebook page. The group is where you can have discussions and post pictures with others who share the interest of this group. Updates from here won’t automatically appear on your home page, so you’ll need to go to the group on your own. Considering the massive amount of people on Facebook daily, there are sure to be people in the adoption groups who could have some useful tips for you in your adoption journey.
WHEN am I to read all of this?
How in the world are you to keep up to date with adoption blogs, forums, and groups? You probably don’t have the time to spend an hour online everyday just looking around at all of your bookmarked websites. There are two ways which can help cut down on your computer time and still get you all the adoption information you need. First you can change your “settings” on your group or forum to receive e-mails whenever there is a new topic posted or whenever someone writes in a discussion you have already responded to. This way you only need to visit the original website if you feel like there is something there to read and/or reply to.
A second option would be to create a RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed for your adoption needs. Then all you do is look at one website (your RSS page) to see the updates sent from your blogs, forums, tweets, or groups. So if you are on a website which interests you, look for a RSS icon or a Subscription button, click it and start creating your RSS page. This will make your life a whole lot easier. To completely understand how a RSS page works and how to create one, view this short video. I use Firefox as my main browser and its RSS feed is called Feedly. It’s very quick and simple for me to glance at my Feedly page to check for updates on my favorite adoption blogs, tweets and groups.
Good luck to you in your research. Unfortunately, you don’t need to stop researching even after you adopt. The topics may change from recommended agencies to recommended books on attachment issues, but the basic online resources will still be around. Be sure to continue visiting your bookmarked adoption websites or your RSS feed to keep up to date.
Are there any adoption resources that you use I didn’t list? Please leave a comment with the website and a short description of why you like it.
Danielle I. Pennel