As discussed in a previous post on the increasing use of technology in family law, people interested and involved in adoption are also making use of the internet.  The New York Times published a story a few months ago explaining the positives and negatives of using the internet as a resource in adopting a child.  The article referenced a study completed by  The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute.  The Institute found both positive and negative effects of internet use on the adoption process.

Of course, the internet can serve as a wonderful and informative place to turn when researching adoption options.   There are hundreds, if not thousands, of personal blogs, articles and adoption stories online that can be an inspiration and a comfort to adopting families.  Adoption can be an extremely long, consuming and detailed process and these resources and advice can be invaluable to families looking to find out more about the adoption journey.  Additionally, many birth parents and their biological children have used the internet as a tool to reunite.  Others have used the internet to search out prospective adoption agencies or used the internet as a tool to complete research on the adoption laws in certain states or even other countries.  There are countless ways in which the internet can be used as a helpful place to turn when thinking of or going through adoption.

If you happen to be looking for information on adoption in Iowa, a reliable place to begin your research is in the law itself.  Iowa Code Chapter 600 controls adoption law in Iowa.  Here you will find information on adoption petitions, qualifications for filing for adoption, international adoption, closed adoption records, and much more.  However, adoption law and the process itself can be extremely complicated and it is always helpful to consult an attorney well-versed in Iowa adoption law before starting your adoption journey.

Internet use in adoptionHowever, as the Times story indicates, the internet can also prove to be a place where the unsuspecting can easily be taken advantage of.  The Donaldson Adoption Institute study describes cases in which fraudulent adoption agencies scammed thousands of dollars away from unsuspecting people simply attempting to gain more information about adoption.  Adoption is known as a very expensive process, and therefore makes it even easier for criminals to nab cash from people.

Another problem that crops up with internet access, and in particular Facebook and other social networking sites, is when adopted children attempt to contact their birth parents and vice versa.  This could lead to potentially dangerous situations of abusive or criminal biological parents, whose parental rights have been terminated, contacting their biological children and attempting to meet with them in person.  Internet access to biological parents and children can also prove problematic for the adoptive parents if they are caught unaware and have not prepared their course of action for this meeting.  The study tells of one case where a child was contacted and needed to attend therapy after the incident.

As with all things “internet”, there are positives and negatives on both ends of the spectrum.  The internet has clearly lead to many happy reunions, useful research sites, and legitimate adoption agencies where adoptive parents have found their new children.  However, it has also clearly led to crimes, sometimes dangerous, when not used cautiously.  What do you think?  Should there be more regulation of adoption websites?  Possibly some way to tell fraudulent sites from legitimate sites?  Should Facebook and other social networking sites put more effort into security measures, or should it be left up to parents to protect their children from who they may find?