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Effects of Social Media in Adoption

Ron Reigns:

Welcome and thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption with Kelly Rourke-Scarry and me, Ron Reigns, where we delve into adoption issues from every angle of the adoption triad.

Speaker 2:

Do what’s best for your kid and yourself because if you can’t take care of yourself, you will not be able to take care of that kid, and that’s not fair.

Speaker 3:

And I know my daughter would be well taken care of with them.

Speaker 4:

Don’t have an abortion; give this child a chance.

Speaker 5:

All I could think about was needing to save my son.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

My name is Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I’m the Executive Director, President, and co-founder of Building Arizona Families adoption agency, the Donna K. Evans Foundation, and the creator of the You Before Me campaign. I have a bachelor’s degree in family studies in human development and a master’s degree in education with an emphasis in school counseling. I was adopted at three days, born to a teen birth mother, raised in a closed adoption, and reunited with my birth mother in 2007. I have worked in the adoption field for over 15 years.

Ron Reigns:

And I’m Ron Reigns. I’ve worked in radio since 1999. I was the co-host of two successful morning shows in Prescott, Arizona. Now I work for my wife, an adoption attorney, and I can combine these two great passions and share them on this podcast.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Let’s talk about the effects of social media on the adoption process.

Ron Reigns:

I love social media. You know me, I’m a technological guy. I’ve got my MySpace going, and Friendster is going now.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Okay.

Ron Reigns:

My Yahoo messenger, I’m all over it.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Your AOL.

Ron Reigns:

AOL. Got the disc and everything.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

You can buy extra minutes at the grocery store with the little cards.

Ron Reigns:

Exactly. And they always have free samples. Here are free 1000 hours of
AOL online. Ooh.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Fast speed.

Ron Reigns:

So, let’s get into social media and how it affects adoption.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah. So we’ll look at this for adoptive families from their perspective. We’re in the same age group as the other adoptive families. I mean, we’re probably at the end of the age group.

Ron Reigns:

Certainly.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

We’re still in the group. We’re still

Ron Reigns:

Still technically there. Right?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Right. And so there’s a lot of new stuff out there. I am just now really learning Instagram and Twitter, and now Snapchat and TikTok have taken hold.

Ron Reigns:

Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And so, to try to stay excellent with my teenagers, I am trying to learn some of this, and the look on their faces when I say something like, okay, I have to go tweet. They will just, yeah. They just start laughing because they’re like, stop.

Ron Reigns:

I got to make a Twitter.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah, exactly. And so the TikTok, I don’t get the TikTok. Have you seen it?

Ron Reigns:

I kind of know, I mean not very much. Just a very cursory It’s short videos that people put together, and it’s all the rave right now, which I don’t understand because they’re five-second videos most of the time.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah. Less than a minute. Yeah.

Ron Reigns:

It’s crazy to me because I guess we’ve gotten to that point. We talked about it for so long that we’re desensitized, and our What is the word I’m looking for? Our short attention span. And they’ve been talking about this since the ’80s, and now it’s just getting to where we got a five-second video and lost interest. So it is funny that all that’s come to fruition.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
It is. It is. And the other day, my 17-year-old was talking with one of her friends that’s a boy. But they’re just friends clarifying.

Ron Reigns:

Not boyfriend.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And I’ve never seen somebody Snapchat. So they’re Snapchatting back and forth. And I asked her, I said, my gosh, why don’t you pick up the phone and FaceTime him?

Ron Reigns:

Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I mean, you make a video, and then you send it, and then he makes a video, and he sends it back, and then you make a video and send it back. And I’m thinking, wow.

Ron Reigns:

It seems like you’re expending more energy creating these, but are they looking at it as I want to portray the perfect image. So let me do this video four or five times until I say 8/8precisely.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

She wasn’t. She wasn’t. I don’t know if he was, but she wasn’t.

Ron Reigns:

Okay. Interesting. And the text has always been the same to me, too, because you sit there and text back and forth. And what would be a 30-second conversation on the phone?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

No, no, no, no, no. I get the texting because you can text while doing something else.

Ron Reigns:

Okay. That’s a fair point. Interesting.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

It’s not always appreciated when someone’s sitting in front of you, and you’re texting somebody else. But with this Snapchat, I mean, this was honestly ridiculous.

Ron Reigns:

Just bizarre.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I mean, FaceTime them.

Ron Reigns:

Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I don’t

Ron Reigns:

You would still see their face, and I mean, what did they save the videos? They disappear here after a little bit, right?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Right. They disappear after you watch them. Yeah.

Ron Reigns:

Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah. Yeah. I didn’t see the relevance at all.

Ron Reigns:

It’s because we’re getting older. You and I.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Thank you.

Ron Reigns:

And our generation. I didn’t say

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Are we part of the problem?

Ron Reigns:

I did not say we’re getting old. We’re getting older, but then again, who
isn’t, right?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah. We’re not fabulous.

Ron Reigns:

No, we’re not excellent or relevant anymore. Unfortunately.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Well.

Ron Reigns:

I look like I just gave you brain freeze.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah.

Ron Reigns:

Sorry. She’s got the mopey face, everybody.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah. All right. Well, maybe we should do a couple of Snapchats of

Ron Reigns:

So that we understand it?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

No. I mean to send out to our listeners that they

Ron Reigns:

Oh.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Oh, you can only Snapchat one person, that’s right. I think I don’t know. I don’t.

Ron Reigns:

Yeah. We could Zoom our audience, do a life. We could do life.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Oh, that’d be fun. We should try to do that.

Ron Reigns:

Okay.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

That’d be fun. We probably need to be in the same room, though, and then Zoom everybody else.

Ron Reigns:

Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Remember, we’re social distancing. Yeah.

Ron Reigns:

Maybe after the COVID 19, we’ll try and do a live podcast where we Zoom everybody just to have fun, and I think that’d be cool.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah. I agree. And we can do it in your amazing studio.

Ron Reigns:

Ah, it’s getting there. I’m working on it. I would love that.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

That’s good. Yeah. I would like to. That’d be fun. So I wanted to talk about social media because it’s so prevalent in society. You can’t go anywhere without hearing it, seeing it, or referencing it. Teenagers are jumping from one platform to another. Just as I’m beginning to learn Twitter and Instagram, they’ve moved on. When I say MySpace, they look at me with their mouth open and ask what I’m talking about.

Ron Reigns:

And then you say, well, I and my friend, Tom, like MySpace. He’s the only friend I have on it.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Right.

Ron Reigns:

Do you remember Tom?

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

No.

Ron Reigns:

When you started MySpace, you had one friend, Tom. It was the founder of the company or whatever, right?
Kelly Rourke-Scarry:
That’s right. That’s right. Yeah, that’s right. And now that they’ve moved on to Snapchat and TikTok, I just can’t catch up.

Ron Reigns:

Right. I’m with you. I think I gave up years ago, and it doesn’t help that I See your kids are into it, and they’re all at the age where they’re into it. Maybe it’s how I raised my son, but he just doesn’t care. He doesn’t do Facebook. He doesn’t do Twitter. He doesn’t do any of it, as far as I know. I ought to ask him about TikTok and the newer ones.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Okay. I thought he did do Facebook. He doesn’t do it?

Ron Reigns:

He’s got a profile on there. I don’t think he’s posted anything in years.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I haven’t posted anything on my personal Facebook in a long time. I just don’t have the time to do it. And for what purpose?

Ron Reigns:

Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I mean

Ron Reigns:

Look what I’m eating.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah. Facebook eliminated the need for Christmas cards. So I scratched
that off the to-do list.

Ron Reigns:

Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I mean, you posted all your pictures all year long. What more are you going to do?

Ron Reigns:

You don’t have to save your calendar. Facebook tells you when people have their birthdays.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

That’s helpful.

Ron Reigns:

It is kind of nice.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And your anniversaries and everything else.

Ron Reigns:

Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

That’s helpful. So for adoptive families, it’s essential to be cautious when using social media because there are some downfalls in incorporating social media and your adoption process. Still, there are also some significant aspects of social media. For adoptive families looking to connect with a birth mother, maybe get a Google voice number and answering or screening service, or set up a voicemail. Suppose you’re trying to do an independent adoption again. In that case, you want to take precautions because this is where scams can erupt. If you don’t know how to screen a birth mother, you’re trying to go out there on your own. Now working with an agency is, in my opinion, a safer option or an adoption attorney because they can be the ones to screen the birth mother and have the personnel that is trained in working with women who are looking to place their baby for adoption. Do you remember when adoptive families had profiles on websites that were not associated with an agency, and they were independent websites? This is going to make you laugh, the old penny saver?

Ron Reigns:

Yeah, absolutely.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And adoptive families used to put their little ads in there. And it was in Juno too. They did it in Juno, a movie that people think is real.

Ron Reigns:

Oh, that’s right. They did. Yeah.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And people can do it anywhere, but again, the long and short of it is to protect your financial and emotional investment.

Ron Reigns:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And for your family, it is safer to go with an agency. Now that doesn’t mean that you have to exclude social media. So, where social media working with an agency would be positive, I think is if you are looking to fundraise, for example, you have to check with your agency attorney and make sure that they allow it, but I’ve seen people do GoFundMe accounts. I’ve seen people do fundraisers online. I have seen them host virtual garage sales. I’ve seen that we had one family that was a speech pathologist. In her office, she had her adoption jar, and so when clients would come in, they would put some money in her adoption jar. And Jenny posted it on Facebook, so she got virtual money too. Such things like that are an area. Also, I think being able to emotionally connect with other adoptive families as you enter and go through the process. Now the danger zone with that is that if there’s no monitor on it, you get one bad apple in the bunch, and it can make things go south quickly.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

If somebody does get burned with the adoption process with one birth mother, and then that terrifies and scares everybody else who is not maybe with the same entity, or they’re having a different experience with a different agency, again, that can be hard too. So it’s always better to make sure that if you’re in a chat room or something of that nature that there’s an adoption monitor in there that that can watch and help and jump in and explain because nothing is worse than getting information and then having a whole bunch of people who don’t understand

Ron Reigns:

The process.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

That information to try to disseminate it themselves.

Ron Reigns:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

I mean, you can imagine where that can go.

Ron Reigns:

Absolutely. Like with any website, when there’s no moderator, it becomes the wild west, and there are just no limits to what people will say and do, and it can get ugly, like you said, very fast.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Right. Lord of the flies, you know what I mean? Like all of a sudden

Ron Reigns:

On the internet. Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yeah, absolutely. And back in the olden days, wow. Back in the days when we first started the agency, we didn’t want to participate in chat rooms for that reason because we couldn’t be there to monitor it consistently. So actually, as an agency, we don’t even have a chat room because of that. Now we will link up families with other families, so they can have that rapport and have someone to talk to, but putting a whole group together without a moderator 24/7 can cause concern and scare families. And you don’t want somebody to have their adoption journey bent or broken because somebody else had a bad experience when it has no accurate reflection of their own.

Ron Reigns:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And then, during the adoption journey, after you’re matched with a birth mother, I think it’s essential to be mindful of what you are posting because it is straightforward to find people in the small world that we live in. And so, if you have a birth mother, and we caution our families and birth mothers in terms of social media, we want your privacy respected. Still, you’ll have those couples and the birth moms that will try to figure out whose profile is on Facebook and will start reading their posts. So I would recommend that if you are in an adoption situation to have a private Facebook where you don’t have information listed because sometimes birth mothers will post pictures of their ultrasound. And then an adoptive family may be panicked about that because it may make them think, oh, she’s not good with her adoption plan. Is she wavering? And when that happens, we have to go in and look at it, talk to the mom, and see where she is.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

But honestly, just because a woman chooses adoption doesn’t mean she’s not celebrating her pregnancy. And it doesn’t mean that she doesn’t love her baby and isn’t proud of the baby she’s carrying. It may not be the vision of what an adoptive family wants to experience. In other words, they didn’t want to see the ultrasound pictures on her wall, but people knew she was pregnant. They see her stomach growing. And so, there has to be some sort of understanding. Still, we get a lot of panicked phone calls when an adoptive family has searched out and done some investigation and found the page and has some concerns. And sometimes, yes, they’re legitimate. We’ll go to the birth mother and talk to them. And sometimes, it’s just a reminder that a birth mother doesn’t have to stop her life and doesn’t have to devote everything she writes, posts, or says just in a manner that others will feel better.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

But I think that emotional support in a positive, moderated group isn’t a bad idea as long as it’s moderated. I think that additionally, maybe finding local families that have gone through the adoption process and had a good experience you can connect with. I always think it is also suitable for your adopted child to see other adopted children. So this is a relationship that can be grown. And as you bring home your baby and your children grow up for them to meet and know each other.

Ron Reigns:

And have a community.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

So after the placement of the baby, our agency again uses Childconnect, which is, I would say, a social media platform. I’ve talked about it many times before where you can email back and forth when you’re able to maintain your privacy and send pictures and so forth, back and forth. Again, some post-adoption communication will include Google voice numbers, which I think are also an excellent idea if that’s the relationship you have set up with your birth mother. I think the most important thing is setting expectations and establishing boundaries, though

Ron Reigns:

Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

In any aspect, you don’t want to fulfill what you’re promising to do before the placement, and you don’t want the flip side. You don’t want the expectation to exceed what you have agreed to. So I think that if you use a social media platform, there needs to be some agreement between the adoptive family and the birth mother as to what social media platform. I would do a private where maybe it’s just the adoptive family and the birth mother. If they choose to do something like this, ensure there’s a written agreement, so everybody understands. Establish those boundaries. When I’ve had situations where families will set up a Facebook profile, and it’s just for the adoptive mother. They will post pictures and everything else for her, and then the birth mother is so excited that she takes the pictures and posts them on her wall.

Ron Reigns:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

And then the adoptive family gets distraught because they don’t

Ron Reigns:

That’s an invasion of their privacy. They didn’t put that on the public page.
Right.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Right. And then feelings get hurt, and families are hesitant to post on Facebook because they don’t want the pictures transferred over. And so I think the way to make sure this doesn’t happen is just on the front end, really discuss what this will look like.

Ron Reigns:

Right. Define the terms.

Kelly Rourke-Scarry:

Yes. Because social media can be a great resource used appropriately and safely, agencies and attorneys may have guidelines they want you to follow. It’s not that they want to control how you do this. It’s for your protection, the birth mother’s protection, and the child’s protection. So I think that in talking with the agency or attorney you’re using, be mindful and listen to them because they can share past experiences of what can go wrong with social media. So again, I think social media can be an excellent resource for adoption used correctly.

Ron Reigns:

Thank you for joining us on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption. Suppose you’re listening and dealing with an unplanned pregnancy and want more information about adoption. In that case, Building Arizona Families is a local Arizona adoption agency available 24/7 by phone or text at (623)695-4112. That’s 6 2 3 6 9 5 4 1 1 2. We can make an immediate appointment with you to start creating an Arizona adoption plan or just get you more information. You can also find more information about Building Arizona Families on their website at azpregnancyhelp.com. Thanks also to Grapes for allowing us to use their song, “I Don’t Know,” as our theme song. Birth Mothers Matter in Adoption was written and produced by Kelly Rourke-Scarry and edited by me. Please rate and review this podcast wherever you’re listening to us. We’d appreciate it. We also now have a website at birthmothermatterspodcast.com. Tune in next time on Birth Mother Matters in Adoption for Kelly Rourke-Scarry. I’m Ron Reigns.

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