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How Social Media Is Changing Adoption

MIAMI (CBS4) -- We all know social media is a great way to connect with others, but how about connecting future family members? People who want to adopt a child are now "Facebooking", "tweeting" and "YouTubing" their desire, hoping a birth mother will see their posts and pick them to be parents.

Many do find success but there are also risks.

Holding, singing, and kissing Theo, their newborn son, was a dream come true for his adoptive parents, Molly and John Connolly.

"We found and connected with our son by using social media, said Molly Connolly.

Soon after the Connolly's posted a website and started a Facebook group expressing their desire to adopt, Theo's then pregnant birth mother saw it and emailed them.

"Our hearts just jumped out of our throats practically," said John Connolly.

They finalized the arrangements through an adoption agency and the day Theo was born, travelled across the country to meet the little boy and his birth mother at the hospital.

"She was holding Theo and she told him how much she loved him and, she loved him so much that she picked the perfect parents for him and she gave him a kiss and put him in my arms," recalled Molly.

Social media sites confirm more people than ever are posting their plight to adopt online, hoping to stand out in a competitive selection process.

There are Facebook posts linking to websites with heartfelt pictures, heartbreaking stories of infertility, and carefully worded write-ups about how they'll parent and if the birth mother can be involved.

Adam Pertman, executive director of the renowned Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute is studying this brand new phenomenon. As more adoption agencies and attorneys suggest prospective parents use social media, Pertman hopes to soon establish some "best practice standards" for the industry.

"We really don't know about all this stuff. It is inventing itself before our eyes," said Pertman.

The American Academy of Adoption Attorneys warns it should be just part of the process. Would-be parents should work with an attorney or agency before they post to be sure they are following the laws for each state where they are advertising or finalizing the adoption. There are also adoption scams and experts can help weed those out.

"The risk involved is that both the birth parents and the prospective adoptive parents are vulnerable and they don't necessarily know the laws or how they can proceed once they connect," explained Deborah Steincolor from the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys.

The Connolly's said the risks were well worth it. They actually still use Facebook to keep in touch with Theo's birth mother so she can see the pictures as he grows up.

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