One thing that’s unusual about the adoption process these days — as opposed to years past — is that many, many adoptive parents communicate online. And so you find yourself reading websites and online communities and blogs, and learning an awful lot about other people’s lives that you have never met.
It’s odd. I know so very much about people I do not know. But it’s also nice, too. And comforting.
Now, I am someone who is quite protective of the IRL (in real life) identities of myself and my family. I don’t use real names for myself, or my husband, or my soon-to-be daughter online. I don’t use real names of friends and associates unless they use them first. But I think I am still pretty forthcoming about my life and who I am and what’s going on, and I think people enjoy reading along with my adventures.
It has its good aspects and its bad aspects, this internet thing. There are a lot of crazies in the Intertubes. I used to know of a small group of people in a larger community who, hidden behind the anonymity of a pseudonym and a computer, would bully and berate and gossip about others, and were obsessed with proving that people they didn’t like or couldn’t understand or who didn’t fit into their smallminded take on the world were “liars”. They were obsessed with outing these people and some imagined wrongs they had done. These individuals were bitter and twisted and vindictive and pathetic, and dealing with them consequently made me cautious about online life.
But the adoption community, you’ll find people are so very different. Not always, of course, but quite often. When I venture into my new community, I see people who are nothing but supportive, and genuine and kind. They have a rough go of it — this process is HARD, make no mistake — but they post about it honestly and openly, and people respond with support and without judgment. They don’t pry into your life, but take you for who you are. They share information freely. They offer advice. And although, like with anywhere on the internet, it’s important to always take what you read with a grain of salt, you read wonderful stories of the journeys these people are on. Remarkable stories of strength, and patience, and hope, and love.
There are great stories out there in the adoption community. A couple’s shock when receiving their referrals. Fundraisers done for couples by friends and family to help raise money to offset the travel expenses of going to Africa or Southeast Asia or wherever. People dealing with the joys and frustrations of fostering-to-adopt a family. Friends coming to the aid of adopting families when the wait just gets too frustrating, bringing food and wine and a portable party just to make them happy.
You get a look into people’s lives that you might not otherwise, because by and large, the people I have met online in the adoption community know that there is strength in numbers. They know that sharing information and knowledge is valuable and comforting to people in a process that can be very isolating sometimes. They understand how hard it is, and want to help others going through it in any way they can. They want to share the joys along the way, because they are some of the most rewarding things in life. And they want to share in one of the greatest things in the ordinary person’s life — the creation of a family.
When we announced our referral a couple weeks back, we literally had hundreds of people drop by to read our story, and got so many warm good wishes. Some were from friends we know IRL, but for the most part, they were from people we had not met, or had only “met” online. Strangers had nothing but congratulations to offer. Many of them are waiting for their referral or their children, and said it renews their hope to read about a referral. Others have been at home with their children for awhile and had themselves experienced the joy and shock and emotion of the day, and know there’s nothing like it in the world. But everywhere we turned, there were people reaching out to share in one of the best days of our life. It was awesome (even MORE than a hotdog).
So, yeah, peeking into the lives of others can seem a bit odd sometimes. But the thing about the adoption community is, although there are some angsty, negative sites and angsty, negative people out there (it IS the internet, after all), many times you are welcomed in to a site with open arms. You can often find blogs or sites or communities where you can just enjoy reading and participating. And it’s nice to have people to share both the good and the bad with. When days get hard or challenging, there are people to offer advice, or comfort, or rail at the powers-that-be with you. And when days are good, there’s so much goodwill and happiness to share around.
Seems to good to be true, huh. Well, that’s what makes a good community.