According to AmericanAdoptions.com, about 40% of American adults have considered adopting a child, though many will never follow through. Myths and other challenges surrounding adoption often intimidate people, but knowing the truth and gaining understanding can open hearts and minds to witness the hope and love that adoption brings.
Myth #1: Adoption is only for those facing infertility.
Truth: One of the biggest myths surrounding adoption is that it’s only for couples who are struggling with infertility. While many people who are unable to have biological children choose to adopt, there are many others who adopt regardless of their fertility. Children who are placed for adoption at birth — or who are in need of an adoptive family at some point during their childhood — need a safe and loving home and good people who are willing to step up and love them.
Myth #2: Adoption is always expensive.
Truth: This is a half-myth because while adoption can be pricey, there are grants that can help to cover the cost, including those from the National Adoption Foundation. This grant program is open to all legal adoptions whether public or private and there is no income requirement. Funding to help cover the costs associated with adoption can also be secured via fundraising and state assistance programs.
Compared to private adoptions, adopting through foster care is much more affordable. It often offers tax credits and includes state health insurance for the children.
Myth #3: Adopted kids are ‘damaged’.
Truth: Children who have been abused or neglected will have challenges to overcome, but they need loving and stable parents to help them achieve that. Some children in foster care have lost their parents and some have watched their parents deal with drug addiction. They have a lot on their minds and hearts. The best thing for these children is a safe and secure home with loving parents. If and when difficult behaviors arrive, social workers and therapists can help so that everyone in the family has the best chance at a happy, stable life.
Myth #4: The adoption process takes years.
Truth: There are 36 couples waiting to adopt for every newborn placed for adoption. So while adopting a newborn can take a year or more, 75% of families complete their adoptions between one and 12 months from official activiation. Adopting internationally can take longer, but adopting a non-newborn in the U.S. can take less time. Adopting an older child from foster care (once the child’s parents’ rights have been legally terminated) can actually happen quickly, especially if the adoptive parents aren’t concerned with the race, age, gender, or special needs of the child.
Myth #5: It’s too hard.
Truth: A big concern for people considering adoption either privately or through foster care is that they would be placed with a child they later might have to relinquish to the child’s birth parents. With private adoption, there is a small window of time during which the birth mother can change her mind and regain custody. But once the adoption is finalized, your child is your child.
As for foster care, the main goal is to reunite birth families. Many prospective foster parents worry it would be too emotionally difficult for them to give a child back. While this is understandable, the foster care system is in need of stable homes for children who still have the chance of being reunited with their birth parents. If children are removed from their parents’ care, social workers need to be sure those children are placed in safe homes. Sadly, that isn’t always the case. Some people use the foster care system as a way to make an income from the state and abuse the children placed in their care. Good, caring, loving people need to step up and be foster parents so that these children can benefit from that unselfish love.
Myth #6: You should wait to adopt until your kids are grown.
Truth: An excuse that often delays or prevents people from adopting is the false idea that because they aren’t “experienced” parents with older children or any children at all, they aren’t qualified to adopt. This is untrue. You don’t have to be perfect or an experienced parent to be a foster or adoptive parent, you just have to be willing to learn, adapt, and love. Children love having siblings, and it is a gift to your biological and adopted children to grow up together.
Myth #7: Parents can’t love an adopted child the same as a biological child.
Truth: The myth that parents can’t love adopted children in the same way they love their biological children is untrue. Countless adoptive families have proven this. Parents and children bond whether they are blood-related or not. It can take time to bond with children sometimes — even biological children — but the love is still there. While it might seem easier and faster to build that bond with younger children, it can take longer with older children because of walls they may have built. There is a learning curve with every new parent-child relationship. Even when some children struggle to bond with their new families because of the neglect they have endured, adoptive parents are still capable of loving those children as much as any others.
There have been great improvements made to the adoption process over the years, and today there are many different paths to adoption. Every family’s story will look different. Anyone who feels called to adopt should consider all of the reasons that are holding them back and reach out to their local state social workers and adoption agencies for more information.
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