Monday, January 09, 2006

The Importance of Yahoogroups

In the corner of my living room, beneath my printer table, lies a pile of stuffed animals, photo albums, letters and other artifacts from my research projects. Attached to each is the name of an adoptive child, and each was given me with the urgent request that I try and locate that child and send them the gift. The gifts, photos and letters were given me by foster families, orphanage directors, and care givers who obviously cared for and remembered the child that was at one time in their care. The one thing they have in common is that they remain under my desk.

I have tried to locate each of these children, sending e-mails to the city newsgroup asking the family to contact me. Most inquiries go unanswered. In the age of digital information, many adoptive parents don't take advantage of the single most important asset they have for obtaining information about their child's life in China: the Yahoogroup dedicated to their child's orphanage.

Most city newsgroups are not very active. My own newsgroups for DianBai and guangzhou average a few messages a week. Yahoogroups allows subscribers to receive individual e-mails (best for less active groups), a daily digest (for busier groups) , "Special Notices" when only important messages sent by the list moderator are sent out, and "no mail," which is for those subscribers that only want to read the postings from the Yahoogroup webpage.

When it comes to "specific interest" newsgroups such as an orphanage newsgroup, I strongly discourage families from choosing "no mail." A week turns into a month, and soon important information is lost in the archives, missed by the adoptive family. More suitable would be selecting the "Special Notices" option, which is essentially the same as "no mail," but allows you to receive important notices.

I would also recommend list moderators maintain the usefulness of their group lists by periodically switching those set at "no mail" to "special notices". Of course, "Special notices" should be sent out only when it is of specific importance, something Yahoo explicitely states in their instructions. Reunion information, research information, searching for specific children qualifies, none-specific advertisements and such do not.

In an age when many families are visiting the cities and orphanages where our children are from, it is impossible to predict what information might suddenly become available. In several cases I have located newspaper articles, birth families, and other vitally important information, only to be frustrated in my inability to locate the adoptive family.

If you are not a member of your child's newsgroup, join today. A list of city newsgroups can be located at the following website:

If you are already a member, and have your setting at "no mail," revisit your decision and reset it to "Special Notices" or "Daily Digest". One day you may be very glad you did.

P.S. Please forward this posting, or a similar message to your locate FCC newsgroup, travel groups, and other audiences. Perhaps one day I will be successful in locating the homes for all of my gifts.


Anonymous said...

I moderate a group for Foshan City proper SWi in Guangdong. Please let me know if you have notices for any families that have children from there.


Anonymous said...

I too have tried to locate families of kids who have lived in the LangFang Children's Village from Philip Hayden Foundation foster home. It's amazing how many people do not realize the support and information they are missing by not joining and being active in these Yahoo groups. Thanks for your post ! amanda

Anonymous said...

I've tried to join the Hengyang one several times with no luck. I'm not sure what else to do.

Any suggestions?

Anonymous said...

To the family who was trying to join the Hengyang Families e-group, I was able to join by e-mailing the list owner at If you have further difficulty, Brian knows how to get in touch with me.

Anonymous said...

Shelly, Thanks but I have sent at least three emails to that address with no luck. I'm not sure why it is not working. Any help you can give me would be great.

Anonymous said...

You know what turns some people off, h ere on this vast internet? The page that asks for personal info before you're allowed to join. Some people are wary about handing out info willy-nilly, especially when you don't even know how much will be "required" before you can join. Ugh.

I literally just looked at the yahoo group for my daughter's orphanage. No way am I handing out all kinds of personal info just in some plea to join. Ugh, ugh, and ugh again.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Brian - I read your article about Yahoo groups in the local FCC newsletter and signed up for a few. One of the groups I joined is about toddler adoption. I soon read an email from a parent who adopted a girl last fall from the same Jiangxi orphanage where my daughter waits. This parent posted a picture she took of her adopted daughter's best friend, with the caption - "anyone know this little girl?" Well, I did! That image was of my Chinese daughter looking straight into the camera with a look that asked, "so when are you getting here?" The gem of this story is that this mom and her adopted daughter live in the SAME metro area as I do, so her daughter and mine will be reunited here by summer. I couldn't believe it. If nothing else, it showed the beauty of the internet to bring people together and generate some good. In this case, reuniting two best friends of similar raised by the same foster mother at the same Chinese orphanage. Can't get much better than that, at least for now. Thanks for letting me post this news ala Yahoo.

Couchkat said...

I could not agree more with you!
I'm a member of the FengCheng Yahoo group and always keeping an eye on the postings. I wish everyone would sign up!

Rachel, mom to Sophie (bio) and Margaux from FengCheng, Jiangxi