Some people who want to adopt a child are now Facebooking, Tweeting, even YouTubing their desires to be parents hoping a birth mother will see their posts and pick them. It's something Molly and John Connolly did with success.
“We found and connected with our son by using social media," said Molly.
Soon after the Connolly's posted a website and started a Facebook group expressing their desire to adopt, Theo's then pregnant birth mother saw it and emailed them.
“Our hearts just jumped out of our throats practically,” said John.
They finalized the arrangements through an adoption agency and the day Theo was born, traveled across the country to meet the little boy and his birth mother at the hospital.
“She was holding Theo and she told him how much she loved him and, she loved him so much that she picked the perfect parents for him and she gave him a kiss and put him in my arms,” explained Molly.
Social media sites confirm more people than ever are posting their plight to adopt online, hoping to stand out in a competitive selection process.
There are Facebook posts linking to websites with heartfelt pictures, heartbreaking stories of infertility and carefully worded write-ups about how they'll parent and if the birth mother can be involved.
Twitter said, "The terms 'adoption' and 'baby' have been mentioned on the social media site more than 550,000 times in the past year." And we found thousands of adoption profiles on YouTube.
“What we're seeing really is historic changes,” said Adam Pertman, Executive Director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute.
Pertman is studying this brand new phenomenon. As more adoption agencies and attorneys suggest prospective parents use social media, Pertman hopes to soon establish some "best practice standards" for the industry.
“We really don't know about all this stuff. it is inventing itself before our eyes,” said Pertman.
While posting online may sound like an inexpensive way for a do-it-yourself adoption, The American Academy of Adoption Attorneys warns it should just be part of the process. Would-be parents should work with an attorney or agency before they post to be sure they are following the laws for each state where they are advertising or finalizing the adoption. There are also adoption scams and experts can help weed those out.
“The risk involved is that both the birth parents and the prospective adoptive parents are vulnerable and they don't necessarily know the laws or how they can proceed once they connect,” said Attorney Deborah Steincolor with the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys.
The Connolly's say the risk was worth it. They actually still use Facebook to keep in touch with Theo's birth mother so she can see pictures as he grows.
“It changed our lives so I think it’s something people should do if they want to start a family this way,” said Molly.