Many Circle of Moms members know what it's like to sign on to Facebook and try to "friend" your teen, only to have your request shot down. But when your teen is adopted, as a recent article in the New York Times reveals, there's now an entirely different kind of online mother-child connection to worry about: birth moms who track down their adopted teens and try to reconnect with them through Facebook or MySpace.
As you might expect, adoptive moms are far from thrilled by the phenomenon. Circle of Moms member Felicita E., whose adopted daughter was contacted by her birth mother through MySpace, writes angrily that "I don't care that she is the birth mother. I am this child's mother." And many other adoptive moms say they are concerned that the walls designed to protect adopted children are being so casually torn down by the Internet. With so many kids online at an age when they are vulnerable and still developing their own identities, making the accidental discovery of a birth mother can be very detrimental.
Some of the greatest concerns are voiced by moms who have not told their children they were adopted. As Joan O. describes, it puts families like hers in a precious situation. She went through a lengthy legal adoption process, during which her daughter's birth mother was given more than five years to reunite with the child she relinquished, but gave up those rights in court. Joan O. says, "Now, I find the birth mom has a Facebook page and a page on MySpace designated to ‘her family/her children,' complete with a picture that I sent to her after their final visit. These pages are open to the public of course. I have alerted the social workers and I know that there is not a lot I can do. I won't be sending any more pictures and luckily I am not obligated to [do] that. I know that my daughter still talks about re-connecting with her birth mother when she is 18, but this opens up possibilities that chill me to the bone."
Should Adoptive Parents Prevent Connection?
Many Circle of Moms members say that allowing a birth mom to reconnect with your adopted child is a personal decision, specific to each family's circumstances, and advise closely monitoring your child's online social network. But the dilemma often extends far beyond the world of the Internet, to questions about when and whether to allow visitation of any kind.
"I think you need to have some background on the birth mom before you make this decision," says Kirstie S. "My daughter is adopted and my son is a foster/adopt, still going through court. We don't hide the situation from them but once the court-required visitation stopped, we would not allow them to see the birth mom. In our case there was a reason they were removed, so we don't want to subject them to anything or anyone that could cause harm. I would highly recommend getting some background first to know if [the birth mom] is going to be a risk to your child. Also, depending on what she may say, [be aware that contact] could cause confusion that you need to be prepared to deal with after the fact. If my kids want to find their birth mom later in life I'll help them, hoping that her life has changed, but for now and for my kids, it's better not to see her. "
Many adoptive moms are afraid that helping their adopted children connect with their birth moms will confuse their children. "My daughter is two-and-a-half years [old] and we adopted her from an agency and had no knowledge of the birth parents," says Catherine G. "During the process visitation was not discussed; however now the birth mother is requesting a visit. I have many concerns and my husband is against it until she gets older and wants to decide on her own if she wants to."
What Do Birth Moms Think?
At least one Circle of Moms member weighs in from the birth mom's perspective, agreeing, as most adoptive moms do, that the the child's emotional well-being is the most important factor to consider before undertaking any kind of reunion. "I'm a birth mom who has an open adoption with weekly e-mails and pictures," says Erica S. "I asked about a month ago if I could post a couple of the pictures of our daughter on my Facebook page (which is private). I asked because I kind of felt like those pictures were their property and didn't want to use them without permission. They told me no, they were not comfortable with that. It hurt like hell, I'm not going to lie, but I understand their point of view and will respect their wishes."
If a birth mom keeps knocking at your child's door, whether in person or online, adoptive mom Renee H. suggests that a good way to handle the request for connection would be to ask her to meet or friend you, first. As she puts it, "See what her intentions are and get a feel for her. Ask why all of a sudden she wants a visit. You have to be careful...it [could] just confuse your daughter to meet her 'real' mother when she thinks of you as her ‘real' mother. Honestly, I would wait on the visits or connecting them until your child is old enough to make that decision on her own. You [yourself] can still stay in contact with the birth mother [in the meantime] if you want letters and pictures."
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.