Adopting a baby can come with a lot of challenges, including networking and marketing your family to reach potential birth mothers. At Adoptimist, we are experts in marketing families and hopeful adoptive parent profiles. We know from experience that promoting a family on the internet comes with a unique set of challenges, including keeping your private information safe and protected, while at the same time, getting your adoption profile seen by many people as possible. Adoption scammers put hopeful adoptive families at risk by using their personal information and their vulnerable position against them. At Adoptimist, protecting your family from online scams and fraud is our top priority. Here are some internet safety guidelines to keep your family safe when creating a profile and marketing your family on the internet in your adoption journey.
• Remember, this is the internet. As with every online service, you should be very wary of the people you meet and connect with. Blind trust in a person you have just met is never advisable. Remain cautiously optimistic as you communicate with someone. Trust needs to be earned over time.
• Never post last names. Last names can pop up almost accidentally with some families. It can be tempting to post phrases like “Taylor family is adopting!” especially if you have a “fun” last name like Ryder. Phrases like “Our family is looking for another Ryder!” may come easy, but they aren’t necessarily safe to use. Also, watch for last name usage in picture captions. A lot of professional photos are labeled with a last name (for example, “Taylor Family Photos”). So make sure to remove those and either use first names only or keep it ambiguous (for example, “Family Summer Vacation, 2020”).
• Know and control all the contact information you are giving out. While Adoptimist vets expectant mother signups, you need to be aware of all the personal info you are volunteering. Links to other websites & external files, like downloadable parent profiles (PDFs), may have contact info that gives people more information than you realize. With these types of links, many people can see your contact information without ever joining Adoptimist or being properly vetted by us.
• Don’t use a personal phone number. Adoptimist Premium offers a unique service that we highly suggest to all adopting families: a toll-free number for phone calls & texting. Using a toll-free number prevents you from having to post your personal phone number on the internet. Not only is a phone number a piece of private information, it can also give away your location and open you up to repeated prank calling. And remember, there are many ways to be contacted on Adoptimist. So you can remove your phone number from your profile altogether and still be contacted in safer, more secure ways.
• Consider removing personal information from your photos before posting them online. Did you know that your smartphone photos may contain personal information about you such as your geographic location? Here’s how to remove this information from your photos.
• Protect your exact location. As mentioned above, concealing your location is an important way of protecting your family during your adoption search. Try not to mention or show in photos the exact names of local parks, landmarks schools, and towns that you live in or frequently visit. Many adoptions are location-driven, but this doesn’t mean you should be revealing where you live on the internet.
• Keep identities and jobs ambiguous. Make sure to get permission from family & friends before posting their photos on your profile. Keep their names ambiguous, using only first names or relationships like “Jenna’s niece” or “Andrew’s mom”. Never post the name of the company you work for or its location. This can be especially important in high-profile jobs like CEO, company owner, or law enforcement but can also apply to teachers, military, etc.
• Consider using an alias for your family. Some families need extra privacy for a variety of reasons - usually associated with their occupation. Other reasons can include not wanting family members or coworkers to know about their adoption journey. If you do not wish your family to be discovered through web searches, aliases can be a good, secure alternative. Choosing new first names is an easy way to add a layer of extra protection for your family on its adoption search.
• Cross-check any connections you make. When a potential expectant mother reaches out to you, always do your research on them and their story. Check on the Adoptimist Discussion Board for any known scammers and patterns. Stay connected with other adopting families or use a lawyer to help accurately vet a potential match. Read our adoption scam blog for tips on identifying obvious red flags.
Marketing your family online is definitely a proven way to help make your dream of adopting come true. But it does come with its own set of challenges. Following these simple internet safety guidelines can make a difference in keeping your family safe when creating a profile and sharing it across platforms. Staying safe from adoption scammers is important, and so is internet safely in general. Adoptimist will help your family’s profile get seen by as many people in the US as possible, and we want to make sure your family is as safe as possible during the adopting process. Let us be a part of your adoption journey and make your dream of adopting come true.