I’ve linked this post up over at The Adoption Social for this weeks #WASO, the theme this week is ‘Taking Care’ in honor of the Taking Care conference held at The Open Nest in York this weekend. This post is about how I try take care of my family on the internet.
One day in the summer holidays we were enjoying a walk in a local Gardens. There was a photographer, maybe from the press or the gardens own publicity department, either way, when he pointed his long zoom lens in our direction MrFO5 and I didn’t hesitate to ask him to delete the photo of us. Big girl gave me one of those side ways glances that she often gives when she’s wondering ‘why’ about something but isn’t brave enough to ask. She’s given me those looks many times in the past about photo related incidents and generally I’ve just moved along and avoided her ‘look’. This time I felt she was ready for an explanation, she was now a little older and had been showing increasing interest in the ‘whys’ around her story before she came to us. So I explained. I only told her what she needed to know, for example I didn’t tell her about the birth family we’d discovered that lived less than 3 miles away, or the threats her violent birth father had made to snatch them, or that her traumatised older siblings were plotting to ‘find’ them. What I did tell her was that where we lived was a secret from her birth family because we needed to make sure they were safe, I explained that social workers knew where we lived, and where their birth family lived and they were able to share information and letters without sharing our addresses so that we were all safe. (I use the word SAFE a lot when I talk to the girls because their own safety is their main focus). I went on to explain that it was also the reason we didn’t allow their photo’s to be taken in school for newspaper articles or putting on the school website. I explained how these could be used to track down which school they attended and how we wouldn’t allow that as we will always keep them safe. I explained that school also knew this and would never allow their photo’s to be put on the internet which is why sometimes she’s been asked to do something else whilst a photo is being taken.
I thought she’s understood. I was wrong it seems. Last week a photographer came in to school to take photos for the school prospectus. Her teacher commented how she noticed the look of panic in Big Girls face the minute he entered their classroom. She attempted to reassure her that it was ok and she didn’t need to worry, but that glazed over, switched off look told her she wasn’t listening. And she was right. shortly after the photographer arrived it was morning break time. Big girl in a panicked state, it seems, proceeded to track down her sisters and inform them that they were not allowed to let the ‘man take their photo’s’. She even rushed to tell the head teacher that Baby Girl, who incidentally had been loving the attention of a stranger on the playground with a camera, had allowed him to take her photo, lots of times.
I collected 3 Rather stressed out children that day. Baby girl and Middle girl thought they’d be in trouble with me for having their photo’s taken like Big girl had told them, and Big girl was angry at me for not telling her there would a photographer in school. Of course I reassured Baby and Middle that they were not in trouble and it was absolutely fine for them to have their photo’s taken and they mustn’t worry. I also had a stern word with Big girl about interfering, whilst I understood why she behaved that way, she also knows that she isn’t allowed to ‘boss’ her sisters about in school, that’s the teachers jobs not hers, its been a big problem for a while. I also talked to her about why she felt the need to tell them off for having photo’s taken and reassured her that she didn’t need to and that the teachers and head teacher were all aware of the ‘rules’ we have for photo’s. I also told her that I hadn’t been aware a photographer would be in school and also that I didn’t need to know that either because I trust her teachers to keep them safe and not allow photo’s to go on the internet and that she should also. I think she understood, but I guess we’ll find out next time there is a photographer about!
Photos and the internet are a big worry for many adopters and its surprising how many non-adopters struggle to understand this. I’ve been sat in school assembly’s as the teacher has announced ‘no photography please’ followed by a long groan from the parents/family in the audience and quite often a parent has shared their thoughts with me about how ridiculous a rule it is and how unfair it is that they’re not allowed to take photo’s of their child. I sympathise, I really do. I also would love to be able to film or take photo’s of the girls in their school productions or sports days, but I cant.
It would just take one parent in school to upload to Facebook a photo with my girls in the background to bring our world crashing down around us. Without knowing every single parent in school and who they are friends with on facebook, and who their friends are friends with, it would be impossible for me to know that there are no birth family lurking in those friend lists. Birth family in their friends lists is quite a possibility actually, remember, we recently discovered them (via facebook) living just 3 miles away. Its a real possibility that I stand on the play ground next to someone who lives in their street, or who’s child attends the same club as theirs or someone who drinks with them every Friday night in their local, its THAT possible.
I’m very careful with photo’s of the girls, I do upload photo’s on to Facebook, but they are stored in a very secure album that is only visible to certain people. There are lots of security settings on Facebook and knowing how to use them is vital. I’m not naive, I know that uploading photo’s to the internet is a risk even with the Facebook security, but I’m a mom and I want to share our family photo’s with the people that we don’t always get to see that often, I want them to still be able to see the girls growing up. There have also been times that I’ve had to ask for a photo of the girls to be removed from a ‘friends’ page, and it isn’t that I don’t trust them with photo’s of the girls, its more that I don’t know who they’re friends with or even who they’re friends are friends with.
Facebook and the internet in general is such a worry for us adopters and we work really hard to keep our children, their identities and locations secure, but we also want to just be parents and do what other parents do, we want to be able to share and enjoy social networking like everyone else, we just have to be extra careful about it.