Unless they’ve been directly affected by the adoption process, many people today don’t understand how adoption really works. The process has changed a lot in the past 100 years but, unfortunately, many people don’t know the difference between those older adoptions and today’s modern adoptions.
Whether you’ve been involved in an adoption or you’re considering adoption for your family, you may have come across some confusing adoption myths. Working with an adoption professional will help you understand better how the adoption process works but, in the meantime, here is the truth about some of the common misconceptions people have.
1. “Mothers choose to give their babies up for adoption because they don’t love them.”
First off, a woman choosing adoption is not “giving her baby up.” Instead, she’s placing him or her for adoption because she knows that it’s the best option for her and her baby. Many times, a birth mother would do anything to raise her child herself, but she selflessly chooses adoption to give her baby the life she knows she cannot provide.
2. “Adopted children never know they’re adopted.”
This is far from the normal; in fact, it’s much healthier for a child to know they’re adopted and understand their personal history. Therefore, most adoptive parents are committed to telling their child about their adoption story, their birth mother and any other personal history they’re interested in. Children who grow up not knowing they’re adopted will likely eventually find out the truth — and it can be a shock that seriously impacts their relationship with their family.
3. “A birth mother can come back for her baby.”
Adoption is permanent, and once a birth mother signs her adoption consent and her revocation period has passed, it cannot be reversed. Most adoptions are semi-open, which means that a birth mother does not receive identifying information about the adoptive family unless the adoptive parents are comfortable providing it. Additionally, birth parents choose adoption because they want to provide a stable life for their children — making it highly unlikely that a birth mother will show up one day demanding to meet her child.
4. “Birth mothers never see their babies again after adoption.”
While this may have been true of the closed adoptions in the 1960s and ’70s, most adoptions today are open. This means that a birth mother and adoptive parents are in contact before, during and after the adoption is complete. What this contact looks like is up to what both parties are comfortable with, but it can involve anything from photos and letters a couple of times a year to phone calls and in-person meetings.
5. “It’s easier to adopt internationally than in the United States.”
While it may have been easy to adopt from another country in years past, many countries are stopping or restricting international adoptions today. Adoptive parents have fewer international choices than before, which is why it’s usually easier to adopt from the United States, whether it’s through the foster care system or by completing a domestic infant adoption. There are plenty of American adoption agencies to help you complete the adoption process that’s right for you.
6. “Birth mothers are paid to place their child for adoption.”
While birth mothers can receive money for their living expenses and pregnancy-related expenses, they cannot be paid to place a child for adoption. All funds that a prospective birth mother receives to pay for these living expenses are governed strictly by state laws, and her adoption professional will work with her to determine exactly how much living expenses she’ll need and how her expenses will be paid.
7. “Only perfect couples can adopt a child in the United States.”
There are many children waiting to be adopted in the United States, whether it’s through the foster care system or through a domestic infant adoption, so as long as you can prove you can care and provide for a child, you can adopt. Today, adoptive parents can be gay, straight, single, married, living with disabilities, able-bodied, old or young — just as long as they can be a supportive parent for an adoptive child.
8. “Adoption takes years to complete.”
While the amount of time you’ll wait for a placement will depend on what type of adoption you choose, most adoptive parents will have successfully completed the adoption process within two years of starting it.
9. “Adoption is way too expensive for me.”
When you choose adoption as prospective parents, you will be able to choose the adoption budget that works best for you — although this may impact your wait time and the services you receive from an adoption professional. For example, adopting a child in foster care will be much cheaper than working with a domestic adoption agency. No matter what kind of adoption you choose, there are steps you can take to finance and prepare for your adoption expenses.
Remember, adoption is completely free for prospective birth mothers.
10. “Adoption is too hard.”
Adoption can be an emotional journey for adoptive parents, birth parents and adoptees — but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth the effort. When you pursue adoption, you’ll receive counseling and support from your chosen adoption professional, who will also help you prepare for the upcoming process. While it may be difficult at times, know that, in the end, you would likely choose to go through it all over again because of the wonderful changes it has made in your life.