Most of what we know of adoption we get from the media or from our past. We see Angelina Jolie and Madonna adopting kids from around the globe. We remember adopted kids from our childhood neighborhood. But neither is a true picture of adoption today.
There are many myths and mistruths out there concerning adoption, and domestic adoption in particular. Families considering adoption need to know the facts in order to make an informed choice.
Myth #1 - Most Birth Mothers are Teenagers
When you think of adoption, do you picture the pregnant high school girl in the movie Juno? In reality, most birth mothers who choose adoption for their child are between 19 and 30 years old. Many are already single mothers who understand the realities and sacrifices involved in raising a child and choose adoption to give their child a better life. Adoption is a mature and loving choice and many birth mothers want an active role in their adoption plan.
Myth #2 - There are No Healthy Babies to Adopt in the U.S.
Tens of thousands of healthy newborn babies are adopted each year in the U.S - that's as many, if not more, than the number of international adoptions. The myth that the only infants available for adoption in the U.S. are drug-exposed is simply false. Most women considering adoption for their child are not using drugs and are receiving prenatal care. In fact, babies placed for adoption are just as healthy as all other babies born in the U.S.
Myth #3 - The Adoption Process Takes Many Years
With domestic adoption, the time frame is unpredictable because it depends on when you're chosen by a prospective birth mother. Depending on the quality of the profile you create and how open you are to different situations, many domestic adoptions can be completed in only a few months.
Myth #4 - The Birth Mother Can Show Up and Ask for the Baby Back
If an adoption is done legally, through reputable attorneys and agencies, the adoptive parents have full parental rights as soon as the adoption is finalized. Before finalization, some states have a revocation period during which the birth mother can revoke her consent but adoptive families can assess the risks on a case-by-case basis before entering into an agreement. Other states don't have any revocation period at all. Despite the publicity surrounding a few high-profile cases, post-adoption revocations are extremely rare.
Myth #5 - Closed Adoptions are Better (or Vice Versa)
Adoption isn't a one-size-fits all arrangement. Some families do great with open adoption, while closed adoption is better for others. There are options available and varying levels of openness so each family can choose what type of adoption is best for them.
Myth #6 -- Adopted Children are Emotionally Unstable or Have Behavior Issues
Research shows that adopted children are as well adjusted as their non-adopted peers. Some studies even indicate that adopted children are better adjusted due to the fact that adoptive parents tend to be mature and financially stable. As with all children, some are very talented or brilliant and some are less capable and have more factors pre-disposing them to potential difficulties. Most adopted people fall within the normal range.
Myth #7 - All Adoptions are Expensive
The cost of adoption varies greatly. Domestic adoptions can cost less than $10,000 and as much as $40,000. As an adoption consultant, most of the adoptions I see are of healthy, Caucasian newborns and the costs usually range from $25,000 to $35,000. Adopting an older child can be significantly less expensive and there are foster adoption programs in many states that can involve little, if any money. Starting in 2009, the government will offer new adoptive parents a tax credit of up to $12,150 that can help to significantly defray the costs.
These are just a few of the pervasive myths that often cloud the decision-making process for pre-adoptive families. There are many factors that go into a couple's decisions regarding adoption. Fortunately, there are many resources and much support available to prospective adoptive parents to gain information and prepare them for the challenges and joys adoption can bring to their lives.