Adoptly's proposed swipe interface.
Adoptly
By David Z. Morris
January 21, 2017

The crowdfunding campaign for an app called Adoptly was suspended yesterday by Kickstarter. The pitch envisioned would-be adoptive parents selecting their future children through a swipe-based interface cribbed from Tinder, and had already triggered discomfort and even scorn. Some observers even suspected the “revolutionary” project was an arch satire of Silicon Valley startup culture.

Kickstarter has declined to specify why the campaign was suspended, telling The Verge only that Adoptly had somehow violated the site’s rules.

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Those rules do not require that projects be in good taste, which is where some saw Adoptly falling short—though perhaps unfairly. Selecting a future child through the image-first ‘swipe’ model pioneered for no-strings-attached romantic connections certainly seems to undermine the seriousness of the process.

The icky core concept, along with a cookie-cutter campaign that seemed to tick every box on the tech-pitch laundry list, led The Verge to speculate that the campaign could even be a parody. That suspicion was reinforced by the fact that the company and its listed staffers had no public social media profiles, though The Verge did speak with co-founder Alex Nawrocki and found him credible.

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Engadget, meanwhile, initially found Adoptly’s core idea “abhorrent”—but also noted that many adoption services, including one run by a U.S. government agency, already use photo directories of adoptable children that can be searched by attributes like age and race. Adoptly would simply connect similar sources to a mobile platform, with all the normal procedures for adoptions intact.

Still, perception matters—and it seems fair to assume that a sense of unease played a role in Kickstarter pulling the plug on Adoptly. Maybe parenthood is one thing that shouldn’t be, in Adoptly’s phrase, “just a swipe away.”

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