Apps

Swipe left on a baby? Adoption app sparks controversy

(Adoptly)

(Adoptly)

A proposed app shows a picture of a cute and chubby baby. If you’re a prospective parent, you can swipe right to express interest or swipe left to “keep looking” for more kids.

Remind you of anything?

Tinder and other apps like Bumble take the same approach to dating.

Experts say this “impulse gesture” is not a good fit for the adoption process. The Adoptly app, which was trying to raise funds on Kickstarter until their campaign was suspended last week for unknown reasons, has sparked controversy because it would spur users to reject children with swipe after swipe (somehow the idea is more palatable with a potential dating partner but horrific with children).

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“When parents adopt they first find an agency to develop trust,” says Dr. Harvey Karp, a pediatrician and book author. “This is like picking a doctor before having a baby. Looking at photos and videos is commonplace, but picking children by swiping photos is an emotionally difficult experience for someone wanting to adopt. It means actively rejecting child after child.”

Nicole Witt, the Executive Director of The Adoption Consultancy, says the marketing info for Adoptly is also suspicious. The Kickstarter page, an accompanying video, and the web site all show a cute infant. That would be a rarity in a real adoption, according to Witt, who questioned whether the app was even legitimate (as many others have). It’s more likely, she told Fox News, that “hopeful adoptive parents are matched with expectant moms, not with babies who are already born.”

You might wonder if Adoptly is yet another art project meant to reveal what is wrong with society.  Adoptly told Fox News there’s been a widespread misunderstanding and insisted that there is nothing illegitimate or sardonic about the app.

“We are not dictating which options are made available,” said Adoptly co-founder Alex Nawrocki. “Adoptly acts like an aggregator of agency and network databases already in existence, pulling in legally pre-approved profiles, making the adoption process much simpler.”

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Nawrocki says the purpose of the app is to provide an introduction for adoptive parents. “Just because both parties swipe right” that only gets the adoption process started, he says.

There are many other issues with the app, however. For one, none of the founders have a public social media account. (Nawrocki says this was to protect their privacy.) He was not willing to reveal which venture capitalists had expressed interest in funding the app.

The main issue with Adoptly has to do with the Tinder swipe. Witt said she had “a physical reaction” to the idea of swiping to reject one child after another.

Still, not every expert criticized the Adoptly app so severely.

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Dr. Wendy O'Connor, a licensed marriage and family therapist, says the app outlines the safety precautions and due process for adoption. She says it is a good thing someone finally is starting to think outside of the box about how adoption normally works.

Indeed, one father of three adoptive kids told Fox News that he was happy to see a new app sparking a discussion about adoption. According to AdoptUSKids, there are as many as 400,000 children in foster care and 100,000 are available for adoption.

After being kicked off Kickstarter, an Adoptly campaign has resurfaced on Indiegogo. A note posted to Adoptly's Indiegogo page on Tuesday said that the campaign is under review by Indiegogo's Trust & Safety team.