One of the biggest “challenge[s] for prospective adoptive parents in a private placement adoption is . . . finding birth parents willing to place their child for adoption.” For this reason, many adoption service agencies and attorneys encourage adoption-seekers and birth mothers to advertise their “resumes” in order to speed up the adoption process. (Adoption advertising is not legal in all states.) However, relying on “newspaper and radio advertising as well as brochures, fliers, and business cards can be extremely costly” and inefficient. Indeed, many couples and birth mothers often have to run advertisements for months, paying large fees before they come close to finding an adoptive match.

As a result, it is not surprising that some couples have turned to social networking/media sites like YouTube, Myspace, and Facebook to advertise their desire for adoption. Although typically known for their entertainment value, such sites make advertising easy and provide a means for prospective parents to post videos, statements, and ads at very little cost. In fact, in August of last year, one couple posted a video on YouTube and quickly received a response from a young, soon-to-be mother who was looking to put her unborn child up for adoption.

Despite the benefits, there are even greater downsides to online advertising due to its enormous reach. First, the rate in which prospective parents face risks otherwise associated with private adoptions– such as paying unreasonable fees– may increase because birth mothers (given the availability of more options) will have greater bargaining power. Second, there will potentially be more incidents of fraud. Because adoption advertisement in this context is a largely unregulated area, future parents have to be careful not to become victims of scams. By posting advertisements in forums in which a large scale of individuals are likely to view them, there may be more opportunities for trickery.

Therefore, it is important that prospective parents exercise caution when using online sites to post advertisements relating to adoption. They should also continue to hire attorneys and agencies who can attempt to determine the status of birth mothers and the validity of matches.

--Misty Johnson

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