Picks and Pans Main: Bytes

updated 07/01/1996 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/01/1996 01:00AM

BABIES IN SITE

Cindy and Michael vow that their first concern is "the health and happiness of you and your child." George and Becky describe a vast extended family who "all anxiously await a new baby to love." Like more and more prospective adoptive parents, these couples are turning to a new venue in their search for a baby: the Web, where birth mothers can check out photos and personal data without the pressure of making a phone call.

Janet and Tim Ryan of Shore wood, Wis., took their hopes to cyberspace after a birth mother dropped them in favor of a couple she'd met on the Net. No luck yet, says Janet, but tips from other parents who e-mail them after reading their page are "wonderful."

Yet the Web experience can be as risky as traditional search modes, like newspaper ads. Lee and Anne Urbanski, a Michigan couple who put up a page last year, got excited when "Jane" said she wanted them to adopt her baby. The day before Anne was to buy a plane ticket to visit Jane, she received an e-mail warning from two Seattle women who had seen her Web page. They said Jane had disappeared after making similar plans with each of them. Still, the Urbanskis have kept up their site—and their hopes.

Many users put up their own pages; less computer-savvy couples need help. Last October, Randi Chidekel, 34, a mental-health therapist, and her husband, Chuck, 34, a NASA engineer, created Adoption Online Connection (http://www.clark.net/pub/crc/ open.html), which posts pages for about 30 couples. The Chidekels—who themselves hope to adopt—charge $45 a couple plus $30 a month. The service boasted its first adoption in April. "We hope to have a few more successes by summer," says Randi. "To be a part of that is so rewarding."

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