Social media has dramatically changed the landscape facing families brought together through adoption. Just as adoptive families thirty years ago could not have predicted the impact of DNA technology on post-adoption family life, adoptive families are only now beginning to grasp the impact of social media connectivity on the lives of their growing children. This change is both related to social media’s impact on family life and fundamental shifts in our understandings about privacy more generally. Understanding the legal rights of parents and children in these circumstances is both a novel and underexplored issue for family law, constitutional law, and privacy law scholars.
Adoptions have traditionally been cloaked in confidentiality. Hearings that previously only took place in private courtrooms are now often broadcasted on social media, giving a very public face to a traditionally private experience. This article explores these changes and examines social media’s impact on family life in the context of non-traditional families, including in that definition separated parents, foster parents, and families where parents live apart. These issues relate to how parents share online about their children, and how such sharing impacts the children both now and years into the future.
Prospective adoptive parents and birth parents are uniquely situated to use social media to both connect with each other and with their shared children. This article offers a cogent path forward and provides model contractual language for attorneys and parents seeking to proactively address these complex issues. It also offers a potential legal remedy for children in the context of the right to be forgotten. Lastly, it encourages all adults engaged in the lives of non-traditional and adoptive families to seek out child-centered solutions that allow all family members the opportunity to thrive in our connected world.
Utah L. Rev. (Forthcoming)