Birth parents contact adopted kids on Facebook

12:0AM, Jun 27th 2011

Some parents who gave children up for adoption have been contacting them through Facebook

The popularity of social media sites has contributed to an increase in the number of biological parents and their adopted children contacting one another, ignoring the wishes of the adoptive parents and the child or parent themselves.

Two years ago, Alexander Dorf, then 16, was contacted on Facebook by his birth mother, Terri Barber, who asked him if his parents' names were James and Jeff, theNew York Timesreported.

Barber had also sent an email to her son's adoptive parents, Jamie and Jeff Dorf of New Jersey, asking them if it was okay that she speak with him. She reassured them she had not told him her identity but it was too late, as Alexander had recognised his birth mother's name.

While this ended well, as Alexander had been told he was adopted as an infant, there have been many instances that haven't.

In the UK, adoption agencies are reporting large numbers of distressed adoptive parents contacting them after their children were contacted by their birth parents with no warning or respect of the usual safeguards, the UK'sObservernewspaper reported in May.

Previously birth parents would contact adoptive parents through the adoption agency, but the ultimate decision as to the extent of communication was in the hands of the adoptive parents. Now Facebook and other social media sites are allowing biological parents and children to bypass these safeguards.

"It used to be a slow process," Dr Anya Luchow, a psychologist who facilitates an adoption support group in Bergen County, New Jersey, told theNew York Times.

"And when the children were minors, it was one that their adoptive parents could control."

The more worrying cautionary tales include that of US woman Aimee L Sword, who was convicted and jailed in 2010 after pleading guilty to having sex with her biological son — who she had given up for adoption — after tracking the 14-year-old down on Facebook.

There are other cases of children as young as 13 being contacted by their birth parents — some of whom had not been told they were adopted while others had been removed from their biological parents' care by social services due to concerns for their welfare, theNew York Timesreported.

"It's uncharted territory," Dr Luchow said. "What are the new rules? They are being made up as the participants — adoptees and their parents — go along."

Your say: Do you think birth parents should contact their adopted children through Facebook?

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