Originally called DARPA-Net (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency-Network) when it was created by the federal government in the 1960s. This high-speed and high-capacity system interconnects computers throughout the world. It was first used by the government and by universities for research. Corporations and, later, individuals began to request use of the system, which became known as the "Internet" sometime in the 1990s. Individuals and agencies were attracted by the ability to easily access information from remote locations. This easier access was greatly facilitated by the invention of the Internet "browser," which made the Internet easy to use by the lay person versus the highly technical expert.
The Internet became increasingly popular in the 1990s and today millions of people worldwide use the Internet to obtain or share information. Many also exchange "electronic mail," which is an individual message directed to one or more persons. Individuals use a variety of services to lead them into the vast capabilities of the Internet.
People interested in adoption use the Internet for a variety of reasons; for example, adoption agencies create "websites," or pockets of information with specific addresses, so that people can read about their organization without having to call them on the telephone to request brochures and pamphlets. Public social service organizations also use the Internet. In 1999, the federal government announced that it would spend $1.5 million to start and about $1.25 million per year to manage a national online photolisting on the Internet of foster children needing families. The plan is expected to be implemented in 2001.
The National Adoption Center and Children Awaiting Placement (CAP) are two organizations that make extensive use of the Internet, providing photos of hundreds of "waiting children" needing adoptive families and offering information on adoption topics. The National Adoption Information Clearinghouse offers papers on their website on adoption topics, listings of adoption agencies, SEARCH GROUPS and other information. Prospective adoptive parents make extensive use of adoption agency websites and of organizations providing information on adoption topics.
Adopted adults and birthparents also use the Internet extensively. Some are searching for biological relatives, and they use the Internet to perform the search as well as to obtain advice on how to perform the search. Some adopted adults strongly favor OPEN RECORDS and they use the Internet to convey their opinion and to share news around the nation and the world. Some birthparents use the Internet in a similar way-to locate biological children and to learn new information or share information.
Although the Internet has many positive features, such as the capability of downloading entire government documents and a wide array of information, there are also some problems that accompany the "gold." For example, there are individuals with nefarious desires or motives who seek to obtain financial advantage over others. There are also pedophiles and other disturbed individuals who use the Internet as one means to locate potential victims to "befriend" and later to meet in person and seduce.
Other problems are that many people who purvey information on the Internet have little or no knowledge about the topics that they claim expertise in. It is important to try to determine if an individual or organization contacted electronically has any professional expertise or if there is any reason to believe that he/it really understands the topic. A mere presence on the Internet does not somehow ensure expertise, no matter how impressive the site may appear, since it is relatively easy for one person to create a website-or to hire someone to create it.
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©2000 by Christine Adamec and William Pierce, Ph.D. Reprinted from The Encyclopedia of Adoption, 2nd Edition (2nd Edition) with permission of Facts On File, Inc.
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