12 Myths About Adoption

ADOPTION IS A GIFT. However, there’s a lot of misinformation out there. We’ve been asked plenty of interesting questions in the past, and we’ve heard a number of the myths that some people have about adoption that simply are not true. Below are some of those common myths about adoption along with commentary on why they are false. (Many of these commentaries are being shared from various adoption agencies and sources around the internet.)

MYTH #1: Adoption is quick, easy and inexpensive

Adoption is not always easy or inexpensive. Before families can adopt, adoptive parents must complete a home study which includes home visits, interviews and extensive background checks which are required by both the state and their adoption agency. There is also no crystal ball in adoption that can predict the amount of time the process will take. The matching process can be sometimes be lengthy, and can range anywhere from mere days to 2-3 years. All of this requires the services of agencies, social workers, lawyers, and other professionals, which add to the cost of adoption.

MYTH #2: International Adoptions are faster and cheaper than domestic adoptions.

International adoptions require extensive traveling, which requires extensive funds and time. Also, in more recent years, some overseas organizations have closed down suddenly without notice or refunds to prospective adoptive parents. While many international adoption agencies work to fight these risks, adopting from overseas is not necessarily faster or cheaper than private domestic adoption in the U.S. Typically, the average cost of a domestic adoption is actually much less than that of an international adoption

MYTH #3: Adopting an infant instead of an older child  is selfish.

People have strong opinions about who needs to be adopted most—older children (vs. younger), children from foster care (vs. private agency), domestic children (vs. international). But the truth is, every child needs and deserves the love of a family. It is a wonderful and powerful decision to adopt an older child, especially since nearly half of all children who are adopted out of foster care are under age one. Many older children desperately need the love of family. But God uniquely calls and equips families to adopt specific children, and no child is more or less deserving of a family.

MYTH #4: Adopted children are not wanted by their birth parents.

The idea that when a parent places a child for adoption they are giving up, or giving up on, their child is simply not true. Choosing an adoption plan for a child is an incredible and selfless act of unconditional love by the child’s birth parents. They want to provide a better life for their child than they are currently able to offer, and even though the decision is very painful, they make the sacrifice to create a happy, healthy future for their child.

MYTH #5: Birthmothers who placed their child for adoption are teenagers, drug addicts, criminals, or prostitutes.

These are bad stereotypes that assume the worst in women who are courageous enough to choose adoption for their child. While some prospective birth mothers are teenagers, the majority of pregnant women considering adoption are actually about 25–35 years old, and many are raising older children. Many women choose adoption because they do not feel ready or able to raise a child and believe the child would have the best opportunity to thrive in an adoptive parent home. Some are single mothers who want their child to grow up in a two-parent home. Some can’t afford another child at this point in their lives without sacrificing the well-being of the children they’re currently raising. Some expectant mothers have career goals or experience major life events that can influence their decision to place for adoption. Regardless of an expectant mother’s reason for considering adoption, one factor remains consistent among all birth mothers: They want to give their baby the best life possible. 

MYTH #6: Most women place their babies for adoption because they get paid for it.

Pregnant women considering adoption may receive assistance with basic living expenses such as rent, groceries, maternity clothes and utilities based on their individual level of need, which is assessed and approved by a judge. However, it’s illegal to pay a pregnant woman directly for adoption. The financial assistance exists to help them through their pregnancy and to ease some of the burdens that come with being pregnant and not able to work as much. Choosing adoption is one of the most difficult decisions a woman will ever have to make — and she does so because she feels it’s in the best interest of her baby.

MYTH #7: Adopted children belong in a home with a family that looks like him/her.

Families don’t have to match, and they are much more defined by their love for each other than by their blood. Do spouses share the same blood? No, but are they still considered related? Are they still considered family? Transracial adoptions do pose unique challenges, but fortunately, adoption is becoming more widely understood and accepted. Yes, people might make assumptions or ask ignorant questions occasionally. But what matters is bringing a child into a safe and loving home through adoption and making them apart of the family — not what their racial or cultural makeup is like. Adoption and multi-racial, multi-ethnic families are becoming increasingly common in America, bringing a greater awareness and appreciation of cultural and racial diversity within our families.

MYTH #8: Adoptive children are damaged and/or disabled.

Adopted is not synonymous with damaged. There have been many studies showing that this adoption myth is false. Children do experience trauma and hurt due to broken and bad relationships, absolutely. But these children can also find healing through loving, safe families. We can simultaneously accept that trauma is real and present while also believing wholeheartedly that God can bring beauty from ashes. There is also no difference between children raised by biological or adoptive parents in self-esteem, psychological well-being, and connection they feel to their family. Of course, health problems and disabilities are always a possibility, but adopted children are not more likely to be disabled than biological children. God doesn’t make throw-away people, and even truly damaged children (due to painful experiences) are not outside the reaches of His care and healing.

MYTH #9: Most adoptions are “closed” adoptions.

Things today aren’t what they use to be! In the past, most adoptions were closed (meaning, children never knew who their biological parents were or anything about them, just as birth families where often left wondering what happen to their child). It was encouraged that adopted children grow up believing they had not been adopted, or at least to wait on telling them until later in life. Since then, research has shown that may not have been in the best interest of the child. Today, the pros far outweigh the cons when it comes to children knowing their adoption story. Most adoptions today are semi-open or open.

MYTH #10: Open adoptions mean co-parenting with the birthmother.

Simply put, this isn’t how an open adoption works. Semi-open adoptions allow for communication like letters and photos to be exchanged through the adoption agency. An open adoption allows for as much communication as both parties feel comfortable with. This could even include arranged visits. But, this doesn’t mean that you’ll be co-parenting with the birth family. It simply means that there will be some level of communication between the birthmother and the adoptive parents after the adoption is complete, which can also help the adoptee understand their adoption and the choice that their birth parents made.

MYTH #11: Birth parents can take their child back.

This common myth creates fear about adoption, but it’s simply not true! Unless coercion or bribery can be proven, it is very difficult for a birth parent to take their child back. This is why there are laws and checks put in place to ensure that does not happen. Once the court terminates the biological parents’ rights to a child, or once a parent voluntarily relinquishes their rights to an infant, a birth parent has no legal right to the child. Adoption is forever!

MYTH #12: Adoptive parents aren’t their “real” parents. And adoptive children aren’t their “real” children.

There’s no evidence to support that an adopted child would ever be confused about who their parents are. They know that their parents are the ones who tuck them in at night, who take care of them when they’re sick and who are the sources of love and comfort. An adopted child’s relationship with their birth family in an open adoption is a unique one. But it feels more like that of a family friend or an aunt who comes to visit occasionally than a parent-child relationship. The term “real parents” is as harmful as it is misleading. An adopted child has birth parents and they have parents. It’s not confusing to them. When they’re old enough, they can tell you so themselves. Similarly, just as a child knows who their parents are, a parent knows who their child is. The love between adopted children and their parents is no different than that of a biological child.

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