With more than 100,000 children in the U.S. foster care system waiting to be adopted (many of whom will age out of the system before finding a home), adoption agencies are turning to technology to reach prospective parents.

Agencies across the country have found social media to be the most productive mode of communication and prospective parents have come to prefer social media over traditional modes of communication. In Orange County, Calif., prospective parents can watch videos of children using video platform Vimeo. Meanwhile, Louisiana’s Department of Children and Family Services uses Facebook to post short profiles of foster children.

“If we’re not doing a good job of getting the word out about these amazing kids, we’re doing them a disservice,” said Tyler Helbach, director of Northwest Adoption Exchange in Washington. “Social media has helped our agency be more responsive to questions from families, target parents who may have shared interests with children who we’re recruiting for, and inspire people to consider adopting from foster care.”

Privacy Concerns for Children

While social media can offer plenty of benefits, organizations must take care to respect children’s privacy and rights.

“There are definitely safety concerns when it comes to sharing profiles on social media,” Helbach said. “The safety of the children we serve is our paramount concern and we have strict policies about what information we can and can’t share publicly.”

In some cases, teens have a say in their adoption promotion. Northwest Adoption Exchange works with Washington’s Children’s Administration and teens in foster care to develop in-depth adoption profiles. According to Helbach, the two organizations do this as "a way to empower teens in the adoption recruitment process, celebrate their individuality and resiliency, and champion their stories to potential adoptive families."

The in-depth profiles, which utilize video and podcasts, have produced promising results in nine months. Out of the 19 children featured, eight have been placed with families. There has also been a three-fold increase in interested families due to social media initiatives. Next up? Facebook Live conversations to connect with other community organizations.

Take Action
  • Learn more about the child welfare system in the U.S. by tapping into resources like AdoptUsKids.org, a project between the U.S. Children’s Bureau and the Adoption Exchange Association.
  • Adoption costs are a common barrier for many people. The U.S. Children’s Bureau provides a list of organizations that rely on funding to provide grants, loans and other resources to prospective parents.
  • Support social media initiatives by providing photography and video services.