UPDATE 13:07 05/01/2012:
Following this story a Facebook spokesperson got in contact with us to tell us, “Protecting the people who use Facebook has always been our top priority. We provide a safe and more trusted online environment by design, offering people industry-leading tools to control what they share and with whom they share it. These controls help protect children and parents involved in adoption from unwanted contact online. We encourage adoptive and foster parents and children to adjust their privacy settings to control who can contact them on Facebook. These settings allow you to control who can send you messages and friend requests, who can see photos and personal information, as well as how you can be found in search. These privacy settings also allow you to block people who you don’t want any contact with. Unlike many other communication platforms, Facebook also has a robust reporting system in place and our users do and can report people who are contacting them without due consent.”
Natural parents using Facebook and other social networking sites to contact children they put up for adoption is on the rise, according to the charity Adoption UK.
With the ease of use of the internet for many youngsters, it’s believed it’s now more likely adopted children will hear from their birth parents before they’ve turned 18. This type of uncontrolled and unplanned contact is often in breach of contract.
Jonathan Pearce, chief executive of Adoption UK, claims that unsupported communication has already had a dramatic impact on adoption. Children have reportedly heard from their biological parents after being put into care back in the 1990s.
The British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) has previously warned that the ability to search for photos or names on the web will make tracing natural parents easier. But as David Holmes, chief executive of BAAF, notes, it’s not that social media needs to be targeted as a source of disruption to adoption, but that steps need to be taken to help understand how it can be used positively and safely throughout the adoption process.