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Social networking and contact


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The use of Facebook has already had an impact on many adoptive families and has the potential to affect many more. Increasingly, young people are using it as well as other social networking sites or websites to trace and contact their birth parents or other birth relatives. Birth relatives are using the internet to trace their children. Once they have made contact, adopted young people may go on to have phone calls and even meetings with their birth parents or brothers and sisters – often in secret and therefore bypassing the support and safeguards that are usually in place. 

Social networking and contact explores the many pressing questions and concerns facing both adoption social workers and adoptive parents:

  • What do adoption workers, adoptive families, adopted children and birth families need to know about adoption in the Facebook age?
  • How can they be equipped for new challenges?
  • What do adoptive parents need to know about protecting privacy and security in the best interests of their children and wider family? What do social workers need to know so that they can give advice to young people and their families?
  • How can social workers and adoptive parents manage the complex situations that arise from unauthorised and unmediated contact?
  • What help and support are available?

Who is this book for?

Social work professional wanting to support adoptive families with the challenges of adoption and un-prepared contact in the age of social networking.

What you will find in this book

The guide demystifies the technology behind social networking sites, provides a practical explanation of how they work and tackle key issues such as internet safety, privacy and identity protection. It examines the challenges faced by all parties involved in contact after adoption and look at balancing the adopted child’s curiosity and need to know with the adoptive family’s fears and concerns around security and disruption.

Case studies and quotations enable others’ experiences to be shared, and reveal the potential and very significant risks that some people have experienced. Although it does not provide any easy answers, this guide includes hard-won insights from adoptive parents and adoption workers who have had to face up to the impact of Facebook.


Eileen Fursland is a freelance writer who has written several titles for CoramBAAF. She also designs and delivers training sessions to help foster carers, adopters and social workers to meet the challenges posed by social networking.



The researchers’ analysis and qualitative discussion of the various children and their families is relevant to practitioners. The overall message of the research is relevant for all practitioners working with children and families and for practitioners who work with children looked after or children who may become looked after. For practitioners, the research has implications for the planning and support offered to children returning to their family’s care.

Ceri Owens, Social Worker, Child Protection, North West England, Child and Family Social Work Aug 2013