Ten Myths About Adoption
Myth #1. We can’t afford to adopt.
Truth: There are many roads to adoption; some of them, certainly, can be expensive. However, it is possible to adopt through the state at no cost to you. There are over 100,000 children in the foster care system awaiting adoption and many states offer the option to foster to adopt, including the possibility of fostering, then adopting newborns. Check with your state to see what options are available to you. For those who choose to pursue a private adoption, couples can raise funds through hosting an event, selling t-shirts, utilizing an adoption crowdfunding platform or working with organizations like Both Hands to do a service project for a widow while raising funds for an adoption. Additionally, many employers provide financial assistance for adoption, and there are federal and state tax credits for adopting.
Myth #2. There aren’t enough children in need of adoption.
Truth: There are already over 100,000 children in the U.S. foster care system awaiting adoption. There are countless other children in the U.S. and around the world in need of loving adoptive families.
Myth #3. Adoption is risky because the birth parents might take their child back.
Truth: A mother and father placing their newborn for adoption has a certain amount of time, which varies state by state, before they are legally permitted to officially surrender their parental rights. They are given this time to solidify the decision to place their child for adoption. Once an adoption is finalized in court, the child belongs with the adoptive family; the birth family has forfeited all parental rights and cannot re-take custody of the child.
Myth #4. Adopted children won’t fit in with their adoptive family.
Truth: There is no guarantee, for children adopted or biologically conceived, that they will “fit in” with their parents and siblings. Genetics alone does not make a child have the same interests, abilities, or temperaments of their parents. All kids are different, and parents need to accept them where they are. Families grow stronger when they build on common ground together, but also support each other in their differences, for better or worse, and love each other through it all.
Myth #5. Birth mothers “give up” their children because they don’t want them.
Truth: Most birth mothers love their babies deeply; they make a hard decision to do the best they can for their child, even if that means placing that child (not “giving her up”) with a more stable and capable family. Our contributing author Kate, who placed her infant in adoption, said of that time: “We shared a strong conviction that we had done the right thing. We simply could not offer our child the life we wanted, so badly, for her to have.”
Myth #6. Birth mothers are addicted to drugs or unmarried teens.
Truth: Birth mothers come from all different situations, relationships, and ages. Most are, indeed, in crisis situations, but these situations vary widely. When making adoption plans, you will have the opportunity to say what your limitations in adopting are; if you are not comfortable parenting a child whose birth mother has used drugs during pregnancy, you can state that from the beginning. However, do not let fear stop you from opening your heart to the child God has for you. Ask the Lord to guide your discernment of what He thinks you can handle.
Myth #7. Open adoption is confusing for adopted children.
Truth: Open adoption can mean anything from sending letters and photos to a birth family to occasional visits. Children who are told they are adopted from the beginning, and who have an opportunity to know about their birth families, often fare better than those who have no information. They are able to fill in another piece of the puzzle we all are trying to work out: “Who am I?” Even children in closed adoptions can have a relationship with their birth families by praying for them and learning whatever details their adoptive parents can share.
Myth #8. Children who are adopted should be told about their adoption once they’re old enough to understand.
Truth: A child should not remember being told he was adopted as an infant. It is important to start talking to a child about their adoption as soon as they are brought home. Even though an infant cannot understand, doing this from the very beginning helps parents feel more comfortable talking about adoption in a natural way and the child will always know this part of their story. Telling children later in life sets them up to believe that there is something wrong or secretive about being adopted.
Myth #9. Children who are adopted are emotionally damaged.
Truth: Children who have been exposed to substances in utero or have suffered from neglect or abuse after birth need a stable, loving family to help them process their losses and heal from trauma. Learn about Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) to help your children feel safe and connected.
Myth #10. Only “perfect parents” can adopt.
Truth: No family is perfect! As our contributor Gabriela wrote, “The ‘perfect’ families of others that I imagine, as I look in from the outside, are only glittering temptations distracting me from my one, perfect-for-me life.” If you have specific concerns about your limitations in adopting, address them with your adoption agency or caseworker; but know that they understand that we are all human. Whether you live in a house or apartment, own or rent, have a community of family support or are still hoping to build one, you have something to offer a child in need of a family. Follow God’s call and see what comes next!