Facebook poses threat to adopted children

Agency in warning over Facebook

Social media websites such as Facebook are posing a risk to adopted children by making it easier for them to be contacted or make contact with their estranged relatives, it has been claimed.

According to the British Association for Adoption & Fostering (BAAF), internet search facilities allow children and relatives to bypass safeguards put in place by adoption agencies designed to keep children away from the parents who gave them up.

The organisation warns that birth mothers who kept their pregnancies secret before putting a child up for adoption could also be put at risk by the practice.

Chief executive of the BAAF David Holmes has told foster parents to make sure they understand how social media sites work, how their children may be at risk, and how to take precautions in order to keep them safe. He said:

"The use of social media needs to be incorporated more generally into understanding the importance of a child's curiosity about their origins, and how this changes over time. Adoption agencies have developed great expertise about this, and social networking needs to be incorporated into that expertise."

Facing up to Facebook

The BAAF has published a guide entitled Facing up to Facebook in an effort to protect both parents and foster children. In addition, the organisation will be staging a conference for social workers in London in an effort to raise awareness of the problem.

The group suggests that adopted children using the website do not post information about their current location or even post a profile picture, and that they make good use of the website's improved privacy settings.

Current UK law means adopted children must wait until the age of 18 before attempting to contact blood relatives. Birth parents can only contact children through an adoption agency, unless the child is prepared to take matters further.