I know one thing: That I know nothing.
-The Socratic Paradox
I’ve been compiling responses about social media and technology in open adoption communication (and will be until April, so please click here and fill out the survey if you haven’t already) and one response so clearly summed up my outlook on adoption and on life.
The more I learn, the more there is to learn.
-Anonymous survey respondent
This is precisely why I began this independent research project. I wrote about social media and open adoption communication, which after some editing now appears on my agency’s blog. After writing that post I realized how little I truly know about the medium that I use on a daily basis. It’s easy to tweet about the awesomeness of social media to others who already agree, but how can we explain that to others? How can we explain how useful technology and social media can be in to those who are new to not only social media, but also to open adoption?
I decided to let my inner research nerd take the lead and today I’d like to share some preliminary results with you.
Just what makes social media so awesome when it comes to open adoption?
It’s quick, casual, immediate, and at your finger tips. While without social media some might share only the major milestones and perhaps months after they occurred, with social media it’s possible to share smaller milestones or just everyday tidbits in real time. The convenience of posting pictures, sending an email, or leaving a wall message when you have time and knowing the other party can look at it, read it, and respond to it when they have time is a selling point for social media across the constellation. Also mentioned frequently by survey respondents was the ease with which multiple people at once can be contacted rather than printing dozens of the same photo to distribute via snail mail.
May the Odds Be Ever In Your Favor:
With all the various forms of communication, odds are you and the other participants in your open adoption relationship will be able to find at least one that works for all of you. Don’t like Twitter, then how about Facebook? Not up to writing blog posts, how about a photo sharing site? Keeping up with yet another email account sounds daunting, what about text messages?
Visits may be few and far between because of distance, conflicting schedules, or just because. Skype and other technology can be used to supplement those sparse visits and continue to build a relationship. If one participant changes phone numbers, they’re less likely to change their email address or social media profiles, allowing a continued avenue of communication.
The ability to limit what others see–whether through privacy settings, making a separate account for adoption happenings, or being selective of which platforms to use–also ranked very high in what survey participants like about social media and technology. Some set aside a special email account for adoption updates; this allows them to check that account on their terms and not to be surprised with adoption related correspondence That same strategy can be used with Facebook or Twitter, where dedicated accounts to communicate with other constellation members can easily be created. Additionally, control over when communication was read and responded to gave people time to reread, consider, and then carefully word replies if they so desired.
Even though control was among the things most valued in social media communication by survey respondents, it was also at the top of the list of challenges. That and other challenges will be addressed in another post.
What say you, adoption blogosphere? What other benefits do you get from using social media and technology in your open adoption communication?
About the author:
Kat Cooley, MSW is a social worker providing comprehensive all options counseling to those experiencing unplanned pregnancy. She is also a birth mom over a decade into an open adoption. She is always open to suggestions for topics; you can leave them in the comments, at the OAB Facebook page, or tweet her @KMCooleyMSW.