Times have changed since I relinquished my son in 1987. I am glad social media was not a thing. Recently, a video from a white adoptive parent asking for hair care tips for his black adopted daughter went viral and showed up on my Twitter (X) timeline. The man was asking black TikTok for advice on caring for his daughter's hair as he held her and paddled her hair like a Baby Alive doll. I chalked the awkwardness up to the man being a first-time parent, but his handling of this infant still annoyed me. In the age of social media, what may have been an authentic request came across as if he was garnering attention for himself and not the child he held like a prop. I had questions. Did he not have a black friend to pose this question? Did he not have general knowledge of babies and know that at this baby's young age, there wasn't a routine that needed to be in place that was different from any other baby? Why did he need to post it instead of googling like any other person? Many online resources are available on this topic that do not necessitate soliciting ideas on social media. This post is not against interracial adoption. I am against cultural ignorance and birth mother/adoptee insensitivity.
As a birth mother, I imagined how I would feel seeing such a video of the child I gave birth to used as a prop to garner information from strangers. There is the con that I would have thought the adoptive parent was not what I had hoped for, or maybe the plus side would be seeing the child develop and grow, even if it is on someone else's page. That is my 54-year-old self, imagining my response.
The 17-year-old me would have spiraled further into depression. I truly worry that without the proper emotional support system in place, something like a viral social media post that included my birth son would have left me in a space I would not know how to get out of. After carrying life for 9 months, with stretch marks permanently reminding me of what my body performed, the guilt I felt for not being stronger would be compounded by social media and the thousands of comments by those only connected to the story through a phone. I would also be concerned with becoming obsessed with following the adoptive parent's page. Birth mothers are encouraged to get back to life as usual, but there is no life as usual after you give birth, especially as a teenager. There was talk about me around my high school, and I could no longer be considered a debutante candidate, but that was minor compared to how social media posts linger and take on a life of their own. The birth mother of this child, who may have stumbled across the viral post on social media or on a couple of news outlets that did a story about it afterward, may have been caught completely off guard, and her attempt at "life as usual" had to be reset.
One family's joy is a loss to another. I'm not sure how an adoptive family can maneuver social media in a way that is respectful of a birth family's feelings. Do they even need to be respectful? Does the age or reason for relinquishment by the birth mother play a role in considering when to post info regarding an adopted child publicly? If counseling is provided to the birth mother or adoptive family, are the caveats of social media covered?
Social media, in regards to post-adoption, leaves me with more questions than answers.