Heartened

The whole kit & doodle!

Soul of Adoption

So I realized that maybe I should actually talk a bit about Soul of Adoption and what I’m trying to accomplish with it, especially since I’m hoping the same people who I know read my blog will be involved in taking SoA to the next level.

I first bought the domain and hosting so we could create a space for people to submit their stories about their own experiences with adoption with the intention of eventually compiling them into a book. We wanted to put together a book of stories which reflected the truth about adoption – that sometimes it is a beautiful, perfect thing for all involved, and sometimes it is not. We wanted a website because no book can contain every story, and no story is ever really complete. Having a site where stories could forever be added, changed and updated was important if we are going to truly express each individual’s truth.

That is still SoA’s primary purpose. The “problem,” if you can call it that, is that I’m probably going to have to build a database from the ground up on which to base the story submission side of things. So for now, I’ve got it configured so people can submit their stories via the discussion forum. Which is why I installed a discussion forum on the server in the first place. It was a quick fix to a long term need – a place for people to start putting their stories.

Then it seemed that people might want to talk about the stories they read – but I did not and do not feel comfortable with people being able to comment directly on a story. No one wants to put their heart out there only to have it ripped apart by some unthinking individual. So, I created a subforum where people could talk about the stories they read without having to worry about “tainting” the original. Then I thought, “people might want to talk about other things, too.” It has been growing since then.

I’m really driven by midnight inspirations. They hit me, and I run with them. Through this whole process, I’ve thought a lot about what sort of “needs” I was looking to have fulfilled through my journey. No site has met them all. I want a space where I can talk just with other adoptees – I’ve got that, through Wraith’s group. I wanted a space I can talk with other members of the plane. Got that through adoption.com and these blogs. Registries, there are dozens. An actual link list pointing to sites by and for specific roles on the plane? Good luck finding one where 3/4ths of the links aren’t dead. So I started building one – and Linky Links were born. Let’s make that a little easier and create a ring. Check, did that. Anyone can join and no one has to keep updating links on their pages if they don’t want to. Cool.

But it keeps growing and escalating. I keep feeling like there has to be some space to bring all of this together, and not only for me and my part of the plane. I don’t doubt that there are first moms who want a totally safe space to only talk with other first moms. Adoptive moms who want a totally safe space to talk only with other adoptive moms. Same for adoptees. And foster. And dads, of course. Most also want to venture out and hang with others on the plane, learning from them and their experiences. So I started envisioning a forum where there is a general “chat at will” section and some private spaces where members have to be invited to participate after establishing themselves for a bit in the general population – let’s face it, no one likes to feel someone is peeking at their private parts. LOL

Now, I know that we all know of sites who try to be open to everyone. I also know that a lot of first moms and adoptees in particular are a bit put off by the fact that these sites are peppered with ads almost entirely funded by adoption agencies. It puts me off, too. I don’t want to be talking about my pain as an adoptee only to glance up and see a banner ad screaming “PICK ME!! ADOPTION IS WONDERFUL!! GIVE YOUR BABY THE PERFECT LIFE!!!” and other variations. On the flip side, most of the sites which focus on the birth family or adoptee, well, they tend to have a lot of “ADOPTION IS EVIL” rhetoric.

There has to be a middle ground.

That’s what I’m hoping SoA will be.

I do not ever plan on allowing adoption agency ads on SoA. Nor will I have anti-adoption ads there either. Articles that are anti-adoption, sure. Along with articles that are pro-adoption. And a few sort of “sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t” articles, too. I’m looking at other ways of making the site self-sustaining, like voluntary donations to support the site. Heck, if I can raise $35/month, all the hosting fees are covered, and that’s plenty. I don’t need to make money off of this or anything else and, if I have to, I’ll support SoA entirely out of my own pocket for as long as I can.

Anyway, back to evolution. So, ok, I got to thinking about the forums. Figured I’d better at least add a space for people to post “searching” posts. Well, we all know what a pain in the butt THOSE can be. Ever tried paging through 1,000 pages of posts? I have – needle in a haystack comes to mind. That’s not good enough for me. Then I noticed that one of the software scripts I get free with my hosting has this classified ads server. Hmmmm – what neat thing could I do with that? Some of you saw today the result of that – a nice registry. Can I really scare you and tell you I did that in one night? LOL It definitely needs some more tweaking. It still isn’t as user friendly as I’d like, but it will be in a few days when I’m done tweaking the code. I don’t want to post a link because I don’t want people putting in ads yet, but if you’re interested in seeing it and testing it by putting in an ad I am going to delete in a day or two, drop me an email, I’ll send you the link.

What is so great about this registry? Well, you have to renew your ad for one thing. The system notifies you (automatically!) 5 days before your post expires. If you renew it, it stays. If you don’t, the system drops it. One of the most frustrating things with most registries and forums is that the contact information is out of date. With this system, if your renewal notice bounces, the ad is dropped. Love that. (Plus it keeps my server space down.) Right now I have it set to renew every 6 months. I may shorten that time. Seems it might be prudent to do so.

In addition, your “post” has drop-down menus for you to select the MM/DD/Year of birth – no more trying 20 different date combinations. Same for States. Also for role (birth family, adoptee, etc.). With the ability to select “other” or “unknown.” And a space for you to type in additional information. All of this is searchable. If you’re looking for someone in Illinois, you don’t have to worry about searching for IL and ILL and Illinoi and Ilinoyse, etc. They will have chosen “Illinois” when they filled out their ad, and you will select “Illinois” when you search for it. Spelling is not an issue here. Love that, too.

It probably sounds complex the way I’m describing it, I promise, it is not.

If someone doesn’t want to search, they will be able to simply (once I’m done tweaking) sort all posts by Month, Date, Year, City, State or Role within the appropriate category. Categories are broken down by decades – again, easy to use. No one wants to have to look in 10 different places to see if someone is looking for them. I know I don’t.

In addition, because of the way I’ve set up the software which “drives” the site, I can set additional people as “authors.” So let’s say Kim Kim, Manuela and Wraith each want to write a monthly column. I can set them up as authors on the site, they can write their columns and post them much the same way they now post to their blogs. Very cool, and it means I don’t have to be the only one responsible for creating content. Even better!

I’ll also probably end up starting an Amazon Associates account. Basically, we create a list of adoption-related books based on the ones everyone says are a “Must Have,” and then provide links for people to buy them from Amazon – and the site earns a few extra bucks. But even better than that, it will allow us to provide free “advertising” for our friends who have written their own books like Bob and Zara – for them, we can feature the book and point to their sites for ordering instead of Amazon.

I don’t know what else SoA will turn into – I know what it will NOT turn into, however:
It will NOT be a space covered in commercial messages about how great it is to adopt OR how lousy it is.
It will NOT be a commercial site run by a corporation – it belongs to members of the plane and will be run by members of the plane.
It will NOT be a one-sided “every other position sucks” kind of place.
It will NOT be an abandoned mess of outdated information and dead links and listings. I’ll shut it off before I let that happen.
It will NOT be a “pay to play” site where you are required to pay money to use it or to register on it.
It will NOT be a space for anyone to make money off of adoption – including paid searchers, lawyers, agencies, etc.
It will NOT be a space to find a child to adopt or to find someone to adopt your child. Solicitation of that nature will never be allowed.
It will NOT be a space where someone feels pressured to hold certain beliefs about adoption, whatever those beliefs may be.

And to sum up what I know it WILL be:

It WILL be a space where every member of the plane feels they can find what they’re seeking, without pressure.
It WILL be a space which supports members of the plane in having their voices heard.
It WILL be a space where the true Soul of Adoption – the people affected by it in their lives, not their jobs – is expressed, explored and explained.
It WILL be a space which people can use as a portal to some of the other great spaces on the internet available to those involved in adoption.
It WILL be a space where members of the plane can promote their books, their music, their art, ensuring their voices are heard.
It WILL be a space which offers companionship, friendship and a supportive environment.
It WILL be a space which challenges our current adoption methods and looks to the future.
It WILL be a space of reunions, and where the truth of those reunions, for “good” or “ill” can be shared.
It WILL be a space of reliable, up to date information and resources.
It WILL be a community created by the true Soul of Adoption – you, and you, and you, and me, and them, and him, and her. Us.

We are the Soul of Adoption, and our voices WILL BE HEARD.

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February 7, 2006 - Posted by | Adoption Rants, Adoption Void, Geek Stuff

6 Comments »

  1. Heart –
    Got it again. Will be on “vacation” for awhile, but will be peeking in. Thanks so much for your hard work toward a much-needed middle ground (or ranges between the polarities) on the subject. I really believe this is the way to go, the direction that will lend itself toward real and effective change.

    Comment by speakingformyself | February 7, 2006 | Reply

  2. Thanks, Heart – we do appreciate all the hard work you’re doing for us. It will be nice to discuss adoption at a place not plastered with “We have the perfect family for you baby” Ads. Those really are hard to stomach!

    Comment by Cookie | February 7, 2006 | Reply

  3. oh yes i want to do a monthly colummn that would be cool. you might need to spell check for me since i have dislexic tendencies but yes to writing, would love that.

    Comment by kim.kim | February 8, 2006 | Reply

  4. Oh just NICE…..

    Comment by FauxClaud | February 9, 2006 | Reply

  5. A baby adoption can take some characteristics from its adopted parents, studies have shown that the longer you are around someone the more you tend to act like them and favor them. Children adoption will of course begin taking characteristics of their adopted parents once they have been about them for some time. After trying unsuccessfully for years, a lot of couples decide to look into infant adoption.

    Elby

    Comment by Elby | January 11, 2007 | Reply

  6. oh man, this post should be on the home page of SofA, i had no idea.

    Comment by Gershom | July 14, 2007 | Reply


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