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“What does adoption mean to a child?”

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How Do Children Feel About Being Adopted?

A Look at Health, Happiness of Adopted Children

What is it like being adopted and growing up as an adopted child? How does it feel to be adopted? Is it any different from being raised in a traditional family? Is it better or worse? These are just a few of the questions women considering adoption think about in regards to their child being adopted by an adoptive family.

If you are pregnant and thinking about adoption, it’s normal to wonder how being adopted will affect your child. After all, you are making this decision because you love your baby and want the best for him or her. While every person is different, and it’s impossible to predict exactly how your child will feel about his or her adoption, there is good news: research shows that it is not only possible, but also very likely, for a child to grow up happily adopted.

Statistical Evidence of the Effects of Adoption on Children

Women who are considering placing a baby for adoption often wonder: what emotions do kids given up for adoption feel? They ask themselves, “If I give my child up for adoption, will he have a good life?” According to the statistics, the answer is yes — when you make an adoption plan for your baby and choose the perfect adoptive parents to raise him or her, chances are your child will have the wonderful life you want them to have.

It’s also worth noting here that adoption is not “giving up.” While it’s common to use phrases like “give a baby up for adoption,” this language does not accurately describe the loving choice birth mothers make for their children — or the amazing, happy lives those children go on to lead.

Studies show that adopted children grow up to be as happy and healthy as their peers. In some instances, they even seem to have more advantages and opportunities than children in the general population. Adopted children can especially benefit from healthy relationships and continued communication with their birth parents throughout their lives.

A 2007 report by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services may put to rest many of the arguments or concerns about adoption’s impact on children being adopted.

The report, titled "Adoption USA," was compiled from data from the 2007 National Survey of Adoptive Parents — a federal survey of 2,000 families that adopted children from foster care, internationally or through private domestic adoption.

The report found that 85 percent of children who are adopted are in excellent or very good health, and that adopted children are more likely to have health insurance than children in the general population. Also, children being adopted were less likely to live in households below the poverty threshold.

The report also found a few other benefits for adopted children:

  • Adopted children were more likely to be read to every day as a young child (68 percent of adopted children vs. 48 percent of children in the general population).

  • Adopted children were more likely to be sung or told stories to every day as a young child (73 percent of adopted children vs. 59 percent of children in the general population).

  • Adopted children were more likely to participate in extracurricular activities as school-age children (85 percent of adopted children vs. 81 percent of children in the general population).

  • More than half of adopted children were reported to have excellent or very good performance in reading, language arts and math.

Findings also included statistics regarding the openness of adoption, showing a strong trend supporting notions that adoptive families are increasingly becoming more comfortable with more open adoptions. Sixty-seven percent of respondents reported having a pre-adoption agreement regarding openness (such as visits or phone calls with the birth family), and 68 percent of adoptive families reported post-adoption contact with the birth family (such as an exchange of letters, emails or visits after the adoptive placement). Furthermore, the study found that nearly all — 97 percent — of adopted children ages 5 and older knew they were adopted.

Adoption Is Always Growing and Changing (for the Better!)

Despite the fact that only a few decades ago, the norm for adoptions was to have a closed relationship, a 2012 study from the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute titled “Openness in Adoption” reports that only 5 percent of today’s adoptions are closed, and the remaining 95 percent are open or semi-open adoptions. The study also cites benefits for adopted children who have continued contact with and access to their birth parents after they are adopted. American Adoptions supports and encourages this shift toward increased openness in adoptions given the research that has shown benefits for everyone involved, especially adoptees.

Contact with birth families allows adopted children to maintain access to medical, genealogical and family histories. Youth in open adoptions also have a better understanding of the meaning of adoption and more active communication about adoption with their adoptive parents.

Adopted teens who had open and semi-open adoptions described a range of benefits including:

  • coming to terms with the reasons for their adoption.

  • having physical touchstones to identify where personal traits came from.

  • having information that aided in identity formation.

  • having positive feelings toward their birth mother.

The happiness of children who are adopted can be linked to the healthy development of their identity. Children being adopted and growing up adopted who feel secure in their relationship with their adoptive family and can also come to terms with their adoption are able to lead happy, healthy and well-adjusted lives. American Adoptions screens and selects our adoptive families to ensure adopted children will be raised in safe homes with attentive parents who can provide opportunities for their children.

Several of American Adoptions’ staff members were adopted themselves, including our co-founder. They’ve shared their own stories about what it feels like to be adopted, so that those who are considering adoption can understand adoptees’ thoughts and feelings toward adoption, and be comforted knowing that their lives have been happy.

For more information about what it’s like being adopted, contact one of our adoption specialists at 1-800-ADOPTION, or request free adoption information.

Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. America Adoptions, Inc. provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is American Adoptions the right adoption agency choice for many birth mothers?

American Adoptions is one of the largest licensed adoption agencies in the United States. Each year, we work with thousands of women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy and offer assistance to these women. Our large, caring staff is able to assist you seven days a week and provide you with one-on-one counseling about your pregnancy and available options.

You should choose an adoption agency where you feel completely comfortable with their services and staff. With American Adoptions, you will work with an Adoption Specialist who is on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Adoption Specialist will be your advocate and will provide support and guidance as you create an adoption plan that is right for you.

How will the family tell my child about me and the adoption when my child is older?

Each family has their own style of introducing adoption to the child. When you are matched with an adoptive family, you can ask them this question. If you would like your Adoption Specialist to discuss it for you, just let her know. He or she can share your wishes or provide good ideas from other adoptive families.

You will also be able to share what you want your baby to know about you. You can complete a keepsake booklet to share hobbies, stories, photos of you and your family and a letter to your baby. The adoptive family can provide this to your child as he or she grows older. Be as creative as you like! Some birth mothers have even knitted a special blanket as a gift to their baby or given a similar symbol of their love.

The father of your baby can fill out the birth father's keepsake booklet or write a letter too. You may have other family members who would also like to share photos or a letter to the baby. This is your opportunity to pass on your and your family's love and to share your personality, history and reasons for choosing adoption. The adoptive family will treasure whatever information you provide and will share it with the baby at an appropriate age. In most adoptive homes, the word adoption is in the child's vocabulary early on, and adoption is celebrated in their lives.

Additional Resources

Teen Pregnancy - Information for Young Women

While not every woman who chooses adoption is a young mother, many are. Through adoption, many young women have found an ability to give their babies the best life possible, while finding the opportunity to realize their own dreams, as well. Call American Adoptions today at 1-800-ADOPTION.

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Adoption Glossary

Do adoption terms and phrases leave you feeling confused? Learn the meaning to key adoption words and phrases with our comprehensive adoption glossary.

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