It’s your child’s first day at school and it seems natural to pick up your phone and snap a picture to post on social media.
But for some parents, showing their child’s face on social media is a lot more complicated.
Those who adopt have to avoid posting anything online that may make their child identifiable.
Speaking to Metro.co.uk for Adoption Month, Maggie Davies, an adoption manager at Coram Ambitious for Adoption, explains: ‘An adoption order passes the legal rights of the birth family to the adoptive family.
‘They have a new identity which needs protecting – so they can build trusting relationships with their new family and find out about their story gradually from their adopters.
‘Putting photos and info about adopted children on social media runs the risk of birth family members seeing these and trying to trace. This could be disruptive to the adoptive placement and the child.’
Can adoptive parents share pictures of their children online?
There are no specific rules other than the parents having to ensure they keep their child safe.
Each case is different, so while one adoptive parent may choose to share their child’s name, another might feel that is not appropriate in their case.
Adoptive parents will know their child’s background and the risks of sharing certain information and will be best placed to make a
Maggie continues: ‘This is the decision of the adoptive parents as the legal guardians, and they have to make decisions about this on a case by case basis, i.e. school class photo, or the local paper if the child has won an award.
‘They may wish to seek advice about this from the Adoption Support Team.’
There are many parents who run blogs, Instagram accounts or Youtube channels talking about their lives as adoptive parents and they are a valuable resource for those looking to find out more about the process and what it’s really like.
To keep their children safe, many choose to refer to their children by a nickname.
Jane*, who adopted a little boy last year, explains: ‘When I adopted my son, we kept his first name but were able to give him a middle name and we chose Jack. On social media we refer to him as J because of that.
‘It does mean we need to be careful sometimes with things like personalised toys or things in his bedroom though. Sometimes it’s easy to remember to cover or blur his face but we might miss something like that. I’ve become hyper aware of where anything with his name is every time I take a picture.
‘We also know not to take pictures in certain areas of our house where we have family photographs on show. It’s easy for one of those to appear in the background too.’
What about adopted children having their own social media profiles as they get older?
As kids hit their teens, their thoughts turn to their own social media profiles. While most want to be able to fit in with their friends, sharing too much information online can be dangerous for children who have been adopted.
While most parents have concerns over their children’s privacy online, it’s particularly important for adoptive parents to look through settings with their child and
Maggie adds: ‘In discussion with their parents, they should be given advice as all young people are, about the risks attached to sharing information about themselves.
‘It is particularly advisable that adoptive parents are able to support their child with understanding the risks of birth family finding them, at a time when they may not be ready to have this contact.’
Do parents of other children need to be cautious about posting images of their kids’ friends or classmates if they know they are adopted?
Although adoptive parents might know to avoid posting pictures, there can be difficulties when other families are sharing images of their children with friends and one of them is adopted.
While parents should not have to tell everyone in class that their child is adopted, parents should be wary about publicly sharing images generally of other children.
Maggie advises: ‘Again this is down to the responsibility of the adopters – they don’t want to tell everyone in the class a child is adopted, its up to the child to share their story.
‘It’s a hard one for the adopters. There may be a low risk in a lot of cases, so sharing the information may not be a problem. ‘
Schools often have a policy in place about sharing images from a play or performance, for example, and only featuring your child. It’s important for parents to know and respect any such policy.
Adoption Month is a month-long series covering all aspects of adoption.
For the next four weeks, which includes National Adoption Week from October 14-19, we will be speaking to people who have been affected by adoption in some way, from those who chose to welcome someone else’s child into their family to others who were that child.
We’ll also be talking to experts in the field and answering as many questions as possible associated with adoption, as well as offering invaluable advice along the way.
If you have a story to tell or want to share any of your own advice please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Why we’re talking about adoption this month
- How to adopt a child – from how long it takes to how you can prepare
- The most Googled questions on adoption, answered
Visit our Adoption Month page for more.
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