Geek Speak: Harriet Fancott, adoptive mother and blogger

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      Nine months ago, Harriet Fancott and her husband brought home Theo. Born locally, their son was placed with them in an open adoption. Now, Theo can be found speed crawling, regularly visiting his birth family, and sparking interesting playground conversations between adults.

      It’s all documented on See Theo Run, the blog that Fancott started six months ago because she “didn’t want to lose the story of our adoption”. On parental leave from her communications job at ArtStarts in Schools, the Montreal-born blogger is using her site to record Theo’s earliest experiences, share information about open adoption, and meet people in similar situations.

      Fancott will talk about what she’s learned at the Northern Voice conference on personal blogging and social media at the University of British Columbia. On May 8, she’ll join Danielle Christopher, Manda Aufochs Gillespie, Lesley McKnight, Kerry Sauriol, and Amber Strocel in a panel discussion on blogging the experience of parenthood.

      While Theo was taking a nap, Fancott spoke to the Georgia Straight by phone from her home in Vancouver.

      Why did you go for an open adoption?

      Because we felt it was important that our son know his roots and know where he came from. Interestingly, through Twitter, I’ve met four adult adoptees that were adopted in closed adoptions who did not know who their biological parents were and then met them later on. Anyway, the proof is out there that it’s better for kids that they know where they came from.

      What has been challenging about the open adoption process?

      I think it was really challenging at the beginning, and I’ve talked about that quite a bit actually on my blog. You want to bond with your new baby, like every mother or father, right away, and there is another family and there’s another mom for your child, who also needs to see them. So, that’s been challenging.

      Why did you start your blog?

      So, I started my blog because I wanted to write our story down. I wanted to document it. I wanted him to be able to read it. I didn’t want to forget the details of what happened....

      One of the things I’m trying to do on the blog is educate other people about open adoption and come to terms with some of the realities of open adoption and meet other people from around the world who are also in similar situations—and that has happened. So, just by having the blog up there, I’ve met adoptees. I’ve met birth mothers. A birth mom is someone who’s placed a baby for adoption.

      Did you have any hesitation about publishing information on the Web about your family’s private life?

      My own family, no. Initially, I did it because I wanted my own family to read it and to know what was up, what was happening with us, and also to have up-to-date photos for them, because a lot of them live in Ontario.

      I’ve been talking to people about this a bit. I don’t know why, but I just don’t feel worried about having our information or our photos on-line. I talked to someone this morning about it and they said—and I agree with her—I’m more worried about what he’s going to do on the Internet as a teenager than what people are doing to do with our family pictures right now.

      I think that the benefits have outweighed the limitations, in terms of the people that I’ve met just by being on-line. And I haven’t just met people who I will never meet in real life. I’ve met a lot of people in real life as well, so it’s been really amazing.

      How have other blogs helped you with the adoption process?

      Mainly exchanging experiences and finding out how someone, for example, who’s further along the process has handled visitations or has handled questions from their child, so I can see what people are doing down the road. The other thing is our adoption is transracial. So, we have a multiracial adoptive family, and I’ve also met a lot of people like that, in particular in the States. So, they’ve given me lots of good sort of support and ideas on how to handle questions at playgrounds and things like that.

      What do you think makes a good mommy blog?

      I think when people are really authentic about their experience and not necessarily trying to sell you something. The other thing that I like about mom bloggers in general is when they come to your site and read what you have written and comment on it and are interested. And the third thing—and it’s nothing to do with the blog itself—but it’s nice to meet those people in real life.

      What do you think Theo will think about the blog when he grows up?

      Well, I thought about this too. I thought, “I wish my parents had a blog about me when I was a baby.” I would love to look back and see what it was like for them. I would love to, of course, see all of the good things. But I’d also like to see what their struggles were.

      I’m not just writing about how everything is fantastic. But, at the same time, I want it to be truthful and real and caring, so that when he reads it he’s going to know that this was done out of love. So, I keep thinking it will be amazing for him to read it, actually.

      Every Friday, Geek Speak catches up with someone in Vancouver’s technology sector, video-game industry, or social-media scene. Who should we interview next? Tell Stephen Hui on Twitter at




      Apr 30, 2010 at 11:51am

      Great article Stephen, good to see you covering some of the more human aspects of 'Geek Speak'.

      Harriet you are true hero and I know that many others will find strength from reading your story (on your blog).