It’s amazing how many misconceptions there are about adoption out there. Most people, when they think of adoption, probably picture either a little Korean baby or think about some “trouble child” they knew who was adopted and had all sorts of health or behavior issues. I know my husband in particular worried about the last one, since he tends to work with a lot of those kids, being a psychologist. He’s seen the pain and struggles that kids that were born with drug addictions have, or that never formed attachments and therefore can’t relate well with others. So his biggest fear was that we’d be dealing with something like that.
We attended an informational seminar in Los Angeles last weekend, and luckily were able to have a lot of our questions and fears addressed. We learned that there are many types of adoption, including fostering to adopt, international adoption, and domestic adoption. We discovered that what we would want to do is adopt an infant domestically. This means that a birthmother would choose us based off of a profile we created and pictures, we’d meet and discuss plans for the birth and relationship afterward, and take the baby home from the hospital permanently after it’s born. We won’t have to take a child that has special needs or has been subjected to drug use if we don’t want to, which made my husband feel better. In fact, the mothers are screened really extensively, and we’ll get a full medical history before we decide if we want to accept the match, as well as meeting the mother and asking any questions we want to.
Here are a few of the biggest myths and fears out there right now about adoption:
MYTH: There aren’t any babies available in the US, unless they’re special needs.
REALITY: There are about 20,000 babies placed for adoption every year, and most are totally healthy.
MYTH: Birthparents can suddenly decide to take the baby back at any time.
REALITY: While it is true that a birthmom can change her mind before or after the birth (and she should be able to do so if she truly thinks it’s best), she cannot do so after signing the relinquishment form, or TPR, usually done within a day after the birth, depending on state laws. Once the adoption is finalized, the baby can not be taken away from the adoptive family.
MYTH: Adopted children are misbehaved and have all sorts of mental issues.
REALITY: Studies have shown that kids who are adopted show no difference in behavior than biological children. Where the studies get muddied is when they include children who have come from abusive homes or had traumatic circumstances, and were adopted as older children…since the media tends to showcase these things, a lot of people assume that ALL adopted children have these issues.
MYTH: Birthmoms are all immature teenagers, and are usually irresponsible and on drugs.
REALITY: Most birthmoms are over 18. Usually they are not financially or emotionally able to be a parent, and understand that they are creating a better life for their child through adoption…they’re choosing it because they care! There are complex health and mental screenings done before a match or placement is made to assure the health of the baby and the mother.
MYTH: If a child knows they’re adopted or meets their birthparents, they’ll be confused.
REALITY: Almost NO adoptions are closed any longer, as studies have shown that it is harmful to the child to deny them information about their birth. In fact, adoptees who understand their stories and have open contact with their birthparents are much healthier and happier. Open adoptions also don’t mean co-parenting…there are various levels of openness, from sending occasional letters and pictures to full disclosure and meetings. Each family and birthmother will make that choice based on the situation.
Anyway, those were some of the big questions that were answered for us, though we asked MANY more! At this time, we’re going to continue to seek information, talk with eachother and our families, and see if we feel like God is leading us to take the next step.