You see it on TV, in books and movies and all over people’s faces when they don’t know anything about adoption.
Here’s the truth behind twelve common adoption myths:
1. “I can’t adopt because…”
- “We’re not married.”
- “I’m/we’re gay.”
- “I’m too old.”
- “I don’t own my home.”
The purpose of adoption is to provide children with safe and loving homes, so the approval process for prospective adoptive parents is a rigorous one. We consider adoption-ready families to be:
- 100 percent committed to adoption
- Able to financially, emotionally and physically provide for the needs of their child
- Safe and stable people who can raise a child in a safe and stable environment
- Ready and excited to love and care for a child
That’s what really determines whether or not you can adopt and that’s what all the paperwork and background checks exist to find out. Renting your home, your spouse being the same sex as you, or your age has nothing to do with your ability to be a good parent!
2. “Adopting an infant takes away from needy international/foster care children.”
Absolutely not. The goal is to create families through adoption — how you do that is entirely up to you.
Private domestic adoption agencies like American Adoptions are thrilled to promote adoption of all kinds. We just happen to specialize in the process of one type of adoption.
There are many ways to become a family. International adoption and foster care adoptions are fantastic ways to achieve that dream. There’s no wrong way to become a parent through adoption; there’s only the path that’s right for you.
3. “Adopting transracially is too socially complicated.”
Race is a socially complex issue and transracial adoptions do pose unique challenges. But being a family feels simple.
If you adopt a child of a race other than your own, your family will be asked questions and may occasionally receive ignorant comments. This is an opportunity to educate others about racial sensitivity and adoption.
You may have to learn about caring for different types of hair and skin and provide your child with positive roles models of diverse racial and cultural backgrounds. This is an opportunity to learn more about your child’s heritage and include that heritage in your family life.
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. The physical differences between you and your child are small compared to the overwhelming love that a parent has for their child.
4. “Adoptions occur locally.”
Adopting within your community or state is one way to adopt. But working with a national adoption agency tends to have lower wait times and is more regulated than local adoption agencies.
National adoption agencies work with more potential birth mothers and more adoptive families across the U.S. This means more adoptions are completed in less time, and more families are created regardless of state lines.
5. “Most birth mothers are teenagers.”
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. There are a number of reasons why these women choose adoption for their babies:
- Some are single mothers who want their child to grow up in a two-parent home.
- They can’t afford another child at this point in their lives without sacrificing the well-being of the children they’re currently raising.
- They simply may not be ready to be a parent right now, and they want their baby to be raised by someone who is ready for this step.
Whatever a birth mother’s background, she chose adoption for her child because she felt this was the best thing she could do for her baby.
6. “Most adoptions are closed, and adoptees don’t know their birth parents.”
Most adoptions are open or semi-open adoptions. In fact, 90 percent of birth mothers want some level of open adoption with the adoptive family. Research on closed adoptions revealed them to often be detrimental to the well-being of both the adoptee and the birth parents, while open adoptions provided a positive experience for everyone involved.
This allows for lines of communication to remain open through letters, photos, phone calls, or even arranged visits. Open adoptions are not synonymous with co-parenting. They simply mean that you’ll continue to maintain a connection between each other’s lives through adoption. Open adoptions exist on a scale, and the level of openness is determined by what each adoption triad feels best with.
Adoptees who grow up feeling satisfied with the level of contact they have with their birth family throughout their lives are reportedly more happy overall.
7. “It takes years to adopt.”
70 percent of parents who adopt a child through American Adoptions are able to do so within 1–12 months after becoming active.
There may be stages of the adoption process that can feel endless (the home study, for example), but generally the adoption process is usually complete within a year at American Adoptions.
8. “The birth mother will want her baby back.”
The myth that a birth mother will dramatically show up at your house someday to “take back her baby” is one that is horrifyingly persistent. No — the birth family can’t just “take the baby back” after adoption. Nor would they really want to.
Placing a child for adoption is an intense source of grief and loss for a birth mother. But those who choose adoption do so because they feel it’s what’s best for their baby in their situation, no matter how much it pains them.
Additionally, the legal reality is that after the birth parents have signed their consent forms following the state-mandated waiting period, they’ve terminated their parental rights. Once the final adoption decree has been issued about six months later, the adoptive parents are officially granted parental rights and the adoption decision is permanent.
9. “Most people don’t know they’re adopted.”
Again, most adoptions are open adoptions, and so most adoptees these days know their birth parents.
Most children grow up always knowing that they’re adopted. They don’t remember the first time they were told about their adoption because that part of their family’s story has always been celebrated since the day they arrived home.
Dramatic adoption reveals and secrecy are best reserved for the entertainment industry. And there’s a good reason why, which leads us to…
10. “I should wait to tell them about their adoption until they’re older.”
Although you should discuss adoption in age-appropriate terms, the recommended course of action is to begin telling your child their adoption story from the day you bring them into your home. Even “uncomfortable” details about their adoption should be disclosed to them. Adoptees at any age have a right to their own story; even the complicated parts.
Will they fully understand? Not necessarily. But they will understand that adoption is a positive part of who they are, not something that they should hide away because their parents never talk about it. They will understand that it’s ok to have feelings and questions about their adoption, and they will understand that they can come to you about it if you continue to introduce the discussion when an opportunity arises.
As an adoptee ages, they’ll continue to understand their adoption in new ways. By making their adoption a safe and cherished topic from day one, they won’t harbor any unspoken feelings or thoughts about their adoption. They’ll understand that adoption is a normal part of their life and that they have a right to their own thoughts and feelings about it.
11. “Open adoptions confuse the child about who their real parents are.”
Once again; no way.
Someday your child will be able to tell you him or herself that he or she was never confused about who their “real” parents are. A child’s parents are the people who help them with their homework, take time to listen to them and love them above all else. “Real parents” are just parents, so ditch the term altogether.
Open adoption allows the child to have a special relationship with their birth family and to stay connected to their biological heritage. But while the relationship between a birth parent and an adoptee is a unique and valuable one, it’s not comparable to the parent-child relationship they share with the parents who adopted and raised them.
12. “There are no healthy babies available for adoption in the U.S.”
But international adoptions, domestic special needs adoptions and the adoptions of older children or sibling groups are always needed to ensure that wonderful homes are available to all children, including healthy newborns.
I’d like to see the statistics for how long on average it takes to adopt. We just adopted our baby and we were in the process for over 4 years. There are many factors such as the size of the agency that affect the time that it takes. I find it hard to believe that the average is 1-12 months after being active. We did however hire a consultant at the end of our adoption journey. Within 27 days of being active with them we adopted our baby. Education and knowing your options it crucial.
Hi, Gunnar — The 1-12 month average we’ve stated in this article is that as it applies to our agency. However, we recognize that average changes based on what kind of adoption is completed and which professionals are used. This study might be useful to you: https://www.adoptivefamilies.com/resources/adoption-news/adoption-cost-and-timing-2014-2015/ It shows that 84 percent of families completing private infant domestic adoption adopt within 2 years. That said, wait time averages in private adoption can be tricky to calculate because it’s not a public process, unlike foster care. Many agencies keep their statistics private, which means any overreaching “average” must keep that in mind. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
What if you are a single (adoptive) parent with no other children? Could you still adopt 1 or 2 children between the ages of 6-12?