We live in an advanced, modern society. Women earn more college degrees than men. Big corporations put an emphasis on diversity and acceptance in the workplace. Families can connect – and literally see one another – from opposite ends of the earth, all with a click of a button. Yet there are still many misconceptions when it comes to the world of adoption. This age-old option for women facing an unplanned pregnancy is not a radical one, yet many people hold onto dated assumptions and judgments that affect birth mothers, adoptive families, and adopted children alike.
The fact is: Adoption is a positive and selfless act of love. It enables people to become parents, when they could not have had children otherwise. It gives children the opportunity to grow up in safe, stable, and permanent homes. It also gives birth mothers a safe, loving resolution to an unplanned pregnancy and the opportunity to pursue their own dreams and goals. Make no mistake – adoption is an emotional journey, and never an easy choice. However, it is one of the most positive decisions a woman can make when facing an unplanned pregnancy today.
Whether you are a expectant/birth mother who is just starting to explore her options, or a prospective adoptive parent looking to learn more about the process, you may be wondering about the false impressions or myths surrounding adoption. Here, we will explore some of the most common misconceptions about adoption, and learn the truth behind this incredible, life-changing experience.
Misconception 1: Adoption should be kept secret from a child, at least until “a certain age.”
This theory is based on an outdated notion that adoption is a bad thing. It was once kept secret and kept from children until they became adults (if they were told at all). Today, 99 percent of children know they are adopted by age 5, and many of these were told from the very beginning. Even more, most adoptions today are “open adoptions,” meaning there is communication between the birth and adoptive parents.
Adoption professionals encourage adoptive families today to start the conversations with their child as early as infancy. Age-appropriate discussions from an early age in childhood can help a youngster trust his parents, learn about his own story, and feel loved and involved. You can learn about age-appropriate adoption language here. Keeping the conversation going is an important part of the process, as it helps give children confidence and a great sense of identity. An estimated 90 percent of adopted children over age five “positive” or “mostly positive” feelings about their adoption today.
Misconception 2: Birth mothers are irresponsible/“giving up.”
There is an unfair judgment toward birth mothers in our society who face an unintended pregnancy. Sometimes they are perceived as irresponsible or taking the “easy way out.” These ideas could not be more wrong. In fact, adoption is quite the opposite of “giving up.” Actually, women who make an adoption plan for their baby are “planning for their child’s life”. The term “put up for adoption” comes from the 1800s when children were placed on trains and then platforms for families to choose. This language, of course, is very outdated. When a birth mother decides to place her child for adoption, she is making an incredibly loving, selfless decision for the betterment of her child’s future. This decision takes time to process and finalize. Choosing to place your child for adoption is not an easy choice. Only a responsible and loving person could put their child’s needs above their own.
Misconception 3: Parents only decide to adopt after facing infertility.
It is true that many families turn to adoption after struggling with infertility. It is not true, however, that this is the only reason. People come from all different walks of life and decide to grow their families in different ways for different reasons. An adopted person may grow up dreaming of the day he or she can also expand their family through adoption. A person may have his or her heart set on adopting because of the positive impressions formed due to a sibling or close friend who was adopted. Some single parents wish to adopt children, and many same-gender couples who long to be parents do the same. There is a multitude of scenarios and reasonings for families to adopt.
Misconception 4: Birth mothers move on after the adoption.
A fresh start can be healthy and healing, but the idea that a birth mother simply “moves on” after placing her child for adoption is just plain wrong. It is a heartless adoption misconception that holds no truth. In fact, placing a child for adoption is the hardest choice she will ever make. There is a grieving period, just like there is when a person faces loss through death. The grief a woman feels when she makes and adoption plan for her child is complicated because the child goes on living and she is not a part of the child’s day-to-day life; she often feels that she has lost a piece of her heart. This is why ongoing counseling, support, and open adoption plans are offered to birth mothers who make this selfless decision.
It is also why semi-open and open adoptions today are so common and so important. At Adoptions With Love, for example, a mother can hand-select her child’s adoptive family and arrange to keep in contact with them throughout the years. Oftentimes, birth and adoptive parents form a very special bond, creating an even bigger family and circle of love for their child to grow up around. Just because the birth mother is not in the child’s life every day, there is still a presence and a story shared about her with positivity and love. There is also, of course, the occasional updates – via email, phone, or even in-person reunions – to connect and reassure the birth mother that she has made the best decision for her child. This is far from “moving on.”
Misconception 5: Birth parents can show up to “take back” their child at any time.
This adoption misconception is one that stems from the big screen. Perhaps America’s fascination with pop culture has fueled these stories, but the situation where a birth mother would try to “take back” her child is extremely rare. Once birth parents sign irrevocable consents to the adoption, they cannot change their minds. Working with a credible adoption agency helps build trust, ease fears, and form lasting relationships between birth and adoptive families. Families who choose to work with a domestic adoption agency often experience more “openness” with birth parents. That initial fear of the role of birth parents is usually replaced by gratitude.
There are many misconceptions about adoption today. While many people acknowledge that adoption is an important topic, most know very little about it. We hope this article helps clear up some of the confusion and misconceptions about adoption. If you would like to learn even more about adoption, contact Adoptions With Love today. We can help guide you through the process and answer any questions you may have.