I’ve discussed how important it is for birth parents to have an Internet footprint. If you’re interested in search and reunion, it would definitely behoove you to be easily found via a simple Google search. Anyone with even basic knowledge of the Internet should understand how that could be of great benefit. However, there are some things that you likely don’t know about your Internet presence.
It is important for you to own your information online. What does that mean? It’s simple and complicated at the same time.
When birth parents or adoptees are first searching, they often join every last forum, list serv and Yahoo! group to share their story and personal information. They post information like their birth date, their surname, their maiden name, the birth dates involved and other very personal information, up to and including phone numbers and physical addresses.
And then they forget about them. Or they do reunite and that information just hangs out on the web.
Some people do remember, eventually, and contact the owners of the forum or group and ask them to remove the information. Except that the owners of those sites are not only busy human beings with other things to do but, quite possibly, when you joined their service, you agreed that they now own your post and information. Yikes. It’s up there. Forever. Sometimes convincing can be done but they’re often under no obligation to remove or edit your post. Even harder to fix is if the group has since gone defunct and has been abandoned by administrators. Now you have absolutely no recourse.
What’s to be done about it? As I said, owning your Internet footprint is imperative.
Create your own website (with or without a blog) that allows you to share your information on your own terms. If you feel comfortable sharing certain bits of information today but not next week, then you can simply edit and remove or add and change as you feel so moved. While sites like Facebook and MySpace also tend to take ownership over your information, the truth is that you can edit and remove bits of information (or add more!) as you feel is necessary. Utilizing things like this could be truly beneficial to your eventual search and reunion.
Don’t misunderstand me, however. I am not suggesting to avoid forums, groups, lists and registries. These can be vital as well. I am, however, encouraging you to watch what you post on a site that you simply do not own or have access to long-lasting editing powers. Get involved in forums or groups, share your story and let it be known that you want to be found or are searching. And then, in your signature in those forums or groups, include a link to your website that gives more information on your vital statistics. The more you post, the more your signature is used which will result in more click-throughs to your site.
Soon I will talk about the absolute importance of Internet safety. It’s trickier for people who so desperately want to be found and so we need to discuss the importance of sharing information but being safe about it!