When 14-year-old Sarah* reached out to her birth father James on Facebook, she had high expectations. What child wouldn’t dream of the perfect reunion with their birth parent after all these years?

But James wasn’t interested in reconnecting – and he made that very clear. The rejection stung, opening old and fresh wounds.

Sarah became extremely upset and angry. Her mental health suffered, as did her schoolwork. She dealt with all of this in secret until the burden became too much to bear and she confided in her adoptive parents, who were able to tell her more about her history and help her understand why her birth father had reacted this way.

Her case is not unusual. Since social media entered our lives in the early 2000s – particularly Facebook – it has become easier than ever for adoptees to track down their birth relatives. And it goes both ways.

In 2021, over four billion people were using social media worldwide. Social media will continue to add an extra layer of complexity to the already deeply complex area of adoption – and everyone involved is having to learn how to live with it.