Whether you are an expectant mother considering adoption or a hopeful parent trying to grow your family, adoption can seem confusing at first. It’s understandable to feel intimidated by the adoption process. Not only is it highly emotional time for everyone involved, but it’s also a long process that can be complicated in nature. And, to top it off, many false myths about adoption have been circulated and popularized throughout the years.
A cultural understanding of adoption has progressively improved over the last few decades. The results of that improvement are clear in the general positive attitude that most Americans share toward adoption today and the increasing prominence of open adoption. But many people still hold outdated opinions about adoption based on fabricated myths.
If you’re thinking about choosing adoption, or if you are just interested in learning more about it, we’re going to break down some of those common adoption myths here. You can always contact our adoption attorneys at 319-291-6161 for more information, as well.
Myth 1: Adoptive families can’t love children who came home through adoption as much as biological children.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
It may help to understand the long, trying journey that many adoptive families have traveled. For the families who decided to pursue adoption after experiences with infertility, there is immense grief to overcome. For others who simply see adoption as the right way to grow their family, there is still a long process with complicated legal steps and high financial costs. This isn’t a decision made on a whim — it’s a decision made by hopeful parents who cannot wait to hold their child for the first time.
Family is made up of more than blood. It’s made up of love. Anyone who has seen the shine in an adoptive mother’s eye the first time her newborn is placed in her arms at the hospital will know that this love is just as real as it would be for any other child.
Myth 2: Mothers choose to place babies for adoption because they don’t love them.
On the other side of adoption, it is common to hear the phrase “giving up her baby.” While most people who use this phrase mean no harm, the connotations of this phrase carry a myth that clings to adoption even today. Mothers who choose adoption for their baby are not giving up on or giving away their babies. They are making one of the most difficult choices of their lives from a place of love in hopes that their babies will have lives full of opportunity.
An expectant mother choosing adoption is a brave person. She deserves the honor and respect appropriate to anyone making this hard of a choice. Mothers who choose adoption do so out of love.
Myth 3: We can’t adopt because… (we’re not married, we’re gay, I don’t own my home).
You don’t have to be a perfect couple in order to adopt. In fact, you don’t even have to be a couple.
Most state’s adoption requirements are fairly simple, and more people are eligible to adopt than you might imagine. You don’t have to be a homeowner, and you don’t have to be rich. Thankfully, LGBTQ couples can adopt in all 50 states, including Iowa. You don’t necessarily have to be married to adopt, either. If you meet your state’s and agency’s eligibility requirements, all you need is to be 100 percent committed to adoption and prepared to become a parent.
Myth 4: Most adoptions are closed.
While this was true several decades ago, today, things have changed. The vast majority — more than 90 percent — of domestic infant adoptions today are at least semi-open in nature.
Adoption used to be associated with secrecy and shame. Expectant mothers experiencing an unplanned pregnancy would hide themselves and their future baby. They would often have no say in the adoption process and no idea what happened to their child. A better understanding of adoption has resulted in a modern process where the prospective birth mother is listened to and respected, and open adoption is much more common. Even though this may seem intimidating at first, open adoption can be incredibly beneficial to the child and the birth mother, and also to the adoptive family.
The contact level of each open adoption is unique. Some semi-open adoptions consist of annual photo and letter updates, others have video calls, and others actually include in-person visits. Each adoption is unique, and so is each communication plan for an open adoption. Regardless of the level of communication, open adoption is a healthy relationship that will help a child build a positive sense of identity around his or her adoption.
Myth 5: Adoption is kept secret from children.
Once again, this did used to be true. Many children who came into families through adoption in the early to mid-1900s were not told their true story. Today, this is recognized as an obviously harmful way to handle adoption.
Children need to know their stories from an early age. Many parents find books and other stories of adoption to tell their children. This helps form a positive perception of adoption and strengthens a child as they begin to fill in the gaps of their story and form a self-identity. Rather than viewing adoption as a negative, a child’s adoption is celebrated. A child has a birth mother who loved him or her so much she chose the best life possible at great personal cost to herself, and a child has adoptive parents who love him or her so much they worked through the entire adoption process just to be together.
This doesn’t mean that children who come home through adoption won’t have any struggles to work through. Everyone has something they have to overcome as they discover who they are. There are sure to be difficult questions and challenges that arise for a child who has been adopted. Embracing the adoption story from a young age will help a child frame these challenges in a positive light, so that they can view their adoption within the context of being loved.
These are only a few of the common myths about adoption. The American cultural perception of adoption has drastically improved in recent decades, but there is still work to do in order to dispel some of these harmful falsehoods.
To learn more about the realities of adoption, including the necessary legal steps of the process, contact attorney Ken Nelson and his law firm today by calling 319-291-6161.