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Couples using social media to adopt

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CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -

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 "you-tubing" their desires, all hoping a birth mother will see their posts and pick them to be parents.

Even adoption experts are surprised how many are going this way, but they have some warnings.

Adopting through social media was a dream come true for adoptive parents, Molly and John Connolly.

"We found and connected with our son (Theo) by using social media," said mother, 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 father, John Connolly.

They finalized the arrangements through an adoption agency and the day Theo was born, traveled 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," said Molly Connolly.
 
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, carefully worded write up's about how they'll parent and if the birth mother can be involved.

Twitter confirms the terms "adoption" and "baby" have been mentioned on the social media site more than 550,000 times in the past year.

We found thousands of adoption profiles on Youtube.

"What we're seeing really is historic changes," said Adam Pertman of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute.

Pertman 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.

While posting online may sound like an inexpensive way for a do-it-yourself adoption, The American Academy of Adoption Attorneys warns it should just be 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's 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," said attorney Deborah Steincolor.

The Connolly's say the risk was worth it.  They actually still use facebook to keep in touch with Theo's birth mother so she can see pictures as he grows up.

"It changed our lives so I think it's something people should do if they want to start a family this way," said Molly Connolly.

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