Among my morning stops along the Internet is a regular visit at Mashable, where earlier this week a story entitled “Why One Couple Turned to Twitter to Adopt a Baby“. Curiosity piqued, I read the story and immediately followed hopeful adoptive Dad-to-be Rick Jones on Twitter. After perusing the website Rick and his wife Erika have set up, I reached out to him personally and was very happy to have the following email interview exchange. As a fan of Twitter, I’m honestly very pleased to see one of my favorite social networking venues being used in this way. Rick does a terrific job of explaining in his comments below how Twitter can reach a broad audience efficiently and economically. My prayers go out to Rick and Erika and hopeful families everywhere who await adoption. I hope you enjoy our conversation.
Q: Rick and Erika, your innovative adoption campaign recently received quite a lot of publicity in the blogosphere. Please share with our readers how you decided to make Twitter a part of your ways to reach out to potential birthmothers in your quest to adopt?
For almost three years, we have been on a waiting list to adopt and most recently received our foster care license. During this waiting process, we have been encouraged by our wonderful (yet small) adoption agency to think of innovative ideas to market ourselves. After trying traditional method of placing classified ads in several newspapers, putting up flyers and sharing our website with family and friends on Facebook to pass along, and not receiving any communication from our efforts, we decided to look into Twitter. We learned that with Twitter, we have a better ability to communicate and reach a broader and larger audience from outside the Metro Detroit area, which is very important since Michigan is considered a ‘slow’ adoption state. Also, another component of our strategy (use of Twitter) is to be true to who we are, remain positive and be proactive, not reactive.
Q: Part of your strategy has been to find as large a network as possible for your adoption related tweets. Can you share any success stories?
You are one of our success stories by taking time and interest in speaking with you as well as those who have taken the time to re-tweet and/or share our information. It is important to note that it just takes one person who can change many lives by sharing our information and we appreciate all the support given.
As for those who have helped, it includes re-tweets from national, local and respectable journalists and reporters like Chris Coumo, Josh Elliot, Lara Spencer, Ginger Zee (ABC news has been very nice to us), Al Roker, Glamour Magazine editor, Cindi Leive and local Detroit reporters. We do realize we are in a celebrity driven culture and so we reach out to people who are famous (regardless of how) like Angie Harmon, Henry Winkler, Kathy Ireland, Sherri Shephard, Kate Gosselin, Former and current NHL hockey players and MTV teen moms too, just to name a few.
Q: Have you heard of anyone else using Twitter in this way?
We have never been the type of people to see what others are doing, to do it as well, so to answer the question, we went into to Twitter blind in the beginning, doing what we felt was right for us. However, now that we are very active with Twitter, we have come across many adoption agencies and for profit adoption sites (that don’t match) using Twitter to try and perhaps do what we are doing. However, since we are not affiliated with these Twitter accounts, we don’t pay too much attention to them.
Q: What has the reaction to your approach been and what has it taught you about the world of social media?
Our approach has been to contact those people/organizations/media outlets that have a huge following. It was and still is very important to reach as many people we can, you never know where it will lead and it is very nice to have regular folks like us- now follow us and send words of encouragement and re-tweets on our behalf. Social media is powerful because of the people you can reach in real time and the changes that can happen with your message. It is also a bit scary, because we are private people (believe it or not), but we had to take control of our situation and now our information has been seen by thousands of people and well, that is a bit uncomfortable, but we are not complaining, just something we are trying to get used to. We have even learned that there is an ‘anti-adoption’ opinion out there and we have had some very hurtful things/personal attacks made on us without even understanding situations. We are very positive people and do not want to give these people anymore power behind their computer, so that is all we will say about that.
Q: How can readers who would like to help your family learn more about you and support your efforts?
There are many ways people can support our efforts:
- Pass along our profile at erikaandrick.co.cc
- Follow us on Twitter at rjman48 and re-tweet
- Always welcome to contact us through our profile website and send us an email. Open to questions and suggestions too.
As we welcome positive comments, suggestions and/or questions on why we hope to adopt, we will try and answer the questions your readers might have as they learn about us.
- Yes, we are licensed for foster care, but Michigan is considered a reunification state (each state is different) so to adopt through foster care is very difficult.
- We are marketing ourselves to help make a connection with someone w/out a lawyer/big named agency involvement and make a personal connection. This is a serious matter to us and we think it is important to have a voice. And our agency, Morning Star Adoption Center encourages us to have this voice and is there for us - at every given moment. There are plenty of good (bigger) agencies out there, but that usual comes with a huge cost, like a year’s salary and as a firefighter and nonprofit employee, we are very determined to see what we can do for ourselves first, before we consider going down that road.
What do you think about using social networking and specifically Twitter to pursue adoption? Have you heard of any other innovative uses of technology to aid families?
Copyright 2012 Lisa M. Hendey