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Looking for their Origins on Facebook: How does Social Media Relate to Internationally Adopted Adults’ Search for their Origins?

Johanne Thomson-Sweeny

Research Framework: Internationally adopted people are gradually using more social media tools to search and find their biological family. Biological families are also using these tools to find children put up for adoption. This article aims to present the ways in which virtual contact with the biological family in international adoption influences adult adoptees’ search and reunion.

Objectives: This study aims to understand the experiences and perspectives of internationally adopted adults in regard to their digital contact with their biological families.

Methodology: The data presented in this article come from a qualitative study centered around eight Quebec internationally adopted adults. They participated in semi-directed interviews about their experience of a virtual contact with their biological family. Data collected were analyzed through an interpretative phenomenological analysis.

Results: Through their discourse, the study reveals that participants award great importance to their origins. Interest in their origins motivated them to find their birth family through social media or to respond to contact initiated by their biological family. Participants wish to know more about who they are and where they come from. However, not all participants believe that searching for their origins is a mandatory step for adoptees.

Conclusions: The notion of origins is omnipresent throughout the lives of the participants.  Social media allows them to discover who they are and to learn about their history and their birth family.

Contribution: The results of the study show the impact of social media on the search for origins in a context where digital contact with the biological family is more and more frequent in the journey of international adoptees.