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Web transforms adoption: Closed adoption over, commodification in

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Tommy Metthe/The Abilene Reporter-News/AP

(Read caption) Lauren Hancock, and her husband, Stephen, from Richardson, Tex., laugh together during a reception for the consummation of the adoption of their daughter, Anna Claire, at Christian Homes & Family Services, in Abilene, Tex., Dec. 12, 2012.

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The Internet has all but nailed shut the era of the closed adoption, says a new report from the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, “Untangling the Web: The Internet’s Transformative Impact on Adoption.” With social media sites such as Facebook – not to mention all varieties of online databases and archives – interaction between an adopted child and his or her birth parents can come more quickly, privately, and unexpectedly than ever before.

Meanwhile, the report says, unregulated websites are increasingly competing with traditional adoption practitioners, a trend that has created a growing “commodification” of adoption and “a shift away from the perspective that its primary purpose is to find families for children.”

And at the same time, tens of millions of people across the globe are tapping into the Internet to find support for any number of adoption-related concerns or interests. These can range from grappling with the decision of whether to put a child up for adoption in the first place to struggling to raise a child with special needs to figuring out the best way to host Christmas brunch for a kid’s parents, her biological parents, and her siblings who are being raised by someone else all together. 

Overall, the Internet’s impact on adoption has been massive. It has also, this report says, been essentially unstudied – and unregulated. 

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