Some misconceptions about adoption trouble prospective birth parents and adoptive families. For instance, adoptive parents may wonder if they will love an adopted child as much as a biological child; birth parents may worry that their child will have ill feelings toward them. Outside the adoption community, little has been done to change these perceptions.
However, the U.S. Department of Health released adoption statistics from a 2007 National Survey of Adoptive Parents. The evidence refutes common misconceptions about adoption, as the adoption statistics prove many widespread misconceptions are false.
General Adoption Misconceptions vs. Adoption Statistics
Misconception: “Will the adopted child be loved as much as a biological child?”
Adoptive families and birth parents may share this concern before the adoption. Fears of the adoptive family not loving an adopted child are eliminated as soon as they first lay eyes on their baby in nearly every adoption.
Look at how adoptive parents interact with adopted children: nearly 3 of every 4 adopted children ages 0-5 are read or sung to everyday, while only half of non-adopted children receive the same attention from their biological parents. Furthermore, well more than half of all adopted children eat dinner with their families at least six days per week.
At first glance, these adoption statistics may not seem important, but they show how adoptive parents cherish the time they have with their children. They appreciate the opportunity to be a parent every day.
Couples with infertility have an astounding appreciation for parenthood. Adoption grants their dreams of raising a child, and their love shows in the little things like reading before bed.
The study says that 9 out of every 10 adoptive couples said the relationship they share with their adopted child is “very close.” Nearly half said that the relationship is “better than expected.” More than 9 of every 10 adoptive parents said they would “definitely” make the same decision to adopt.
Birth Mother Misconceptions vs. Adoption Statistics
Misconception: “My child will hate me because I placed him or her for adoption.”
This concern is perpetuated by the media and people with no adoption experience. A family member or friend may not agree with a pregnant woman’s desire to place her child for adoption and may say that the child will hate her if she does so. Some TV shows and movies have unjustly portrayed adoptees this way as well.
The adoption statistics show that more than 90 percent of adopted children ages 5 and older have positive feelings about their adoption.
Misconception: “Once I place my baby for adoption, I will never see her again.”
At one time, this was reality. It was thought that the adoption process was easier for everyone if the birth mother went on with her life not knowing anything about her child. However, the past several decades have changed openness in adoption.
Now most adoption professionals agree that a semi-open adoption – in which pictures and letters are exchanged through adoption professional mediation after the adoption – creates healthy relationships. Many adoptions are even more open. Keeping some contact with the adoptive family gives the birth mother peace of mind that she made the right decision.
Today, 100 percent of birth mothers choose the amount of openness in the adoption and select a family that meets her request. Thus, 67 percent of private adoptions today have pre-adoption agreements for a semi-open or open adoption.
Misconception: “My child won’t know that she was adopted.”
In the past, adoption was very “hush-hush.” A birth mother wouldn’t tell anyone she was pregnant. In some situations, she even moved elsewhere to have the baby and place him or her for adoption. Meanwhile, adoptive parents often didn’t tell their child that he or she was adopted.
But the adoption world has changed: today, 99 percent of adopted children ages 5 and older know that they were adopted.
More Adoption Statistics About Birth Mothers
-Women who place a child for adoption have higher educational aspirations, are more likely to finish school and are less likely to live in poverty or receive public assistance than mothers who keep their children.
-Women who place a child delay marriage longer, are more likely to eventually marry and are less likely to divorce.
-Women who place a child are more likely to be employed 12 months after the birth and less likely to repeat out-of-wedlock pregnancy.
-Women who place a child are no more likely to suffer negative psychological consequences, such as depression, than are mothers who rear children as single parents.
Source: McLaughlin SD, Manninen DL, Winges LD, Do Adolescents Who Relinquish Their Children Fare Better or Worse Than Those Who Raise Them? Family Planning Perspectives, 20:1 (Jan. - Feb. 1998), pp. 25-32
Adoptive Family Misconceptions vs. Adoption Statistics
Misconception: “Adopted children are not as healthy as non-adopted children.”
This misconception stems from inaccurate stereotypes of birth mothers. Some worry that a birth mother won’t take care of herself during pregnancy if she is placing the baby for adoption and wonder if the child will grow up with poor health.
In truth, 85 percent of adopted children are rated to have “excellent” or “very good” health while 82 percent of non-adopted children have the same rating, according to The National Center for Health Statistics.
Misconception: “Adoption agencies withhold relevant medical information about the adoption, birthmother and child.”
State adoption facilities once thought it better to withhold medical records. They thought that the child would have a better chance of being adopted if medical records were withheld, but this practice did more harm than good.
After lawsuits and a shift in perception, state governments, private agencies and many state laws and regulations now mandate that all known medical information be disclosed to the adoptive family. This information is extremely important for an adoptive family to watch for health concerns in the adopted child.
Other General Adoption Statistics
-In 2007, 38 percent of children adopted in the U.S. were adopted through private domestic adoption, 37 percent were adopted through foster care and 25 percent were adopted internationally.
-62 percent of children adopted privately are placed with the adoptive family when they are newborns or less than one year old.
-Roughly a fifth of private adoptions are transracial.
-88 percent of adoptive parents describe themselves as a “happy” couple, while 83 percent of non-adoptive parents describe themselves as a “happy” couple.
Adoption Statistics Related to Education
-At American Adoptions, more than 95 percent of adoptive families have a high school education, and more than 90 percent have a bachelor’s degree. Nationally, adoptive parents have high school and/or secondary education in 79 percent of private domestic adoptions.
-Adopted children ages 6-11 are just as likely to read leisurely as non-adopted children.
-Children adopted privately are more likely to be engaged in school than children adopted internationally and through foster care.
-85 percent of privately adopted children ages 6-17 engage in extracurricular activities.
Home and Neighborhood Adoption Statistics
-100 percent of children through American Adoptions are placed in two-parent homes.
-Almost half of privately adopted children are the only child living in the home.
-Adopted children are more likely to live in neighborhoods that are safe, that have amenities and that are in good physical condition than are non-adopted children.
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All information (except for "More general adoption statistics on the birth mother") is taken from the U.S. Department of Health’s 2007 National Survey of Adoptive Parents (NSAP): (http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/09/NSAP/chartbook/chartbook.cfm?id=1)
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