Lately it seems a lot of my blogs spark from things I’ve seen on adoption forums. It’s nice to have a supportive outlet, but with many people in different stages of infertility or from different backgrounds in adoption, these forums can often become heated debates with strong willed people. I try so hard to see both sides of every situation and inject my opinion as just that, my opinion. If I give more than the 2 cents they asked for, I do it so as the “voice of reason”. I try not to belittle anyone, but when emotions are involved, defenses come up and people don’t always want a differing opinion or “extra advice”.
Networking and Advertising your adoption plans can be one of those subjects that is a hot topic. It is a topic that I am interested in for many reasons. I work in marketing; networking is what I do. So, for me, where does the line need to be drawn in what is ethical and what is not? First starting with what is legal is good. People often claim they have talked to their lawyer and know it’s legal already, but I question how often that is true. Not that I assume people are liars, I just know that from my own research there are a lot of legal caveats with adoption advertising. When you tell someone it might night be legal, they get defensive and may say they have talked to their lawyer already, just to feel better to the stranger they are talking to. No one wants to look like an ass.
What type of networking or advertising do you feel is OK and what is too much? For instance, when my husband and I were first looking into expanding our family via adoption, I created a Facebook page. I invited all my friends and family to like the page. I posted on there that our desire was to adopt and I would periodically post cute sayings/memes as well as updates of where we were in our journey. We weren’t with an agency, we weren’t home study approved, we were just expressing our want and sharing our journey. Once we were home study ready, I got a little eager and since I work in marketing, I took out one of those ads you see on the side of the page asking people to “like” our page. After 2 days, I took the ad down. It seemed a little over the top for me. I didn’t know if there were laws against it or not. I didn’t know if there was any official faux pas I was making, I just didn’t feel comfortable anymore having an ad out there promoting such a delicate want to strangers. Many people I know have those types of Facebook pages. We still have ours up and running actually.
The debate that ensued on the adoption forum stemmed from a woman asking who she should pass out fliers and networking cards to to promote her adoption journey and website to reach more people. My advice was just to be careful; that it might not be legal and that in the adoption community there is a fine line between what is ethical in networking and advertising. I also told her to tell her church members, coworkers, friends, family etc. But that she should also talk about it frequently to anyone she got in a conversation with; make the natural segway that she is hoping to adopt and that talking about it is often much more well received than physically handing someone a card or flier. She did not take my advice well. She was offended by my input.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Networking and/or Advertising: Is it Ethical?
1. Being proactive. It helps the “wait” if you are doing something. If you are working toward the end goal of expanding your family, you pass time quicker and feel like you have done everything you can do.
2. Possibly reducing the wait time by connecting yourself with a match faster than the agency or facilitator you are working with may be able to do.
3. Find the right match for you. If you are looking on your own terms, you may find that perfect person that will be a beautiful extension to your family. The expecting mother and you may have a lot in common and connect easily, allowing the open adoption to be a beautiful relationship.
4. It helps you connect to other families in your area also touched by adoption. You may network at church, school, work and other places just by sharing your adoption journey. This can not only offer you support, but possibly lead to a match.
1. When does networking become advertising and portrayed as distasteful? Often people that market themselves for adoption are not as heavily trained as those going through an agency and therefore may use incorrect terminology in their advertisement as well as come across as “trolling” for a baby.
2. Taking out an ad (We’ve all seen Juno and how they advertised in the Penny Saver), you are opening yourself up to it looking like you are buying a baby. Think about it, you advertise a product that you want people to buy. How is this different?
3. Not everyone will agree with adoption. You may receive backlash from people against adoption or just think you should either not have children or try a different route to grow your family. So prepare yourself to be open to criticism.
4. You may attract scammers.
5. If you are embarrassed to tell your child how he/she came to your family, it may not be the right way to do it. It can connote a feeling of “purchased” when ads are placed.
6. It might not be legal.
So The Legal Aspects:
Some (not all) states have laws against advertising. While some flat out ban any form of advertising, others have laws that allow agencies, lawyers facilitators, social workers to advertise. Some states allow those professionals to advertise, but place stipulations on the situations in which they can advertise. Other states have laws as to what type of media can be used in advertising when the adoptive couple or expecting mother is the one doing the advertising. Do you know the laws of your state?
These are the states that have some sort of law defining advertising or banning advertising:
For more information on adoption laws, training and resources visit my Adoption Information page.