Myth #1: Adoption is a Tragedy
I personally hate seeing this one. Yes, I know the kind of trauma many kids and parents suffer that creates a need for adoption. But the tragedy is usually more of a list of tragedies that happen beforehand — like poverty, death, mental illness, addiction, and violence. However, there are MANY kinds of adoption too. For example, when the adoption is chosen by birth parents as are the terms and adoptive family. It still involves grief, yes, but adoption isn’t the tragedy. In other cases, like some international adoption or adoption from the foster care system, a tragedy has occurred that will probably have lasting effects … but it was not caused by adoption. Sometimes, it’s the only thing that can happen to make a tragic situation any better.
Myth #2: Adoption isn’t Natural
Natural means “occurs in nature.” Did you know many animals adopt, like seals, birds, whales, dolphins, apes and monkeys? Sometimes, animals even adopt different species! Humans have adopted all through history, including in most religions. Sorry, but that means adoption is, by definition, natural. As much as we like to portray ourselves as super humans who can recognize the scent of our young in an instant, the fact is it’s possible to live and work near biological relatives and not know. Here’s one famous example. It’s also possible to go home from the hospital with the ‘wrong baby’. If you found out tomorrow you had, would it change how you felt about your child? Your parent? There is such a thing as natural child birth and natural conception, but parenting goes beyond just that. Parental bonding is natural too, even if you’re not sharing a whole bunch of chromosomes. In fact, about 1 in 5 birth parents report not really bonding with baby until after birth. Adoption is a natural part of survival.
Myth #3: Adoption isn’t Normal
Normal means the not different from the standard or regular type. While it’s true most people are not adopted, adoption has touched most families. If you bring it up, you’ll be shocked how common it is. Plus, in our pasts, war, starvation, and high mother mortality rates made family member adoptions a part of almost every family line still living. Given that, without adoption at some point in your family history, you might not be here.
Next, let’s look at what a “normal” family looks like. In the US, a large number of grandparents are raising their grandchildren. About 1 in 10 kids in the U.S. live with a grandparent. This number has been on the rise for the last 20 years or so. Single parent households too have more than tripled since 1960. About 3 million LGBT people have kids by some means. Also, about half of children have step siblings/blended families. So basically, not only is adoption not as rare as you might think, but the “normal” family takes many forms today!
Myth #4: You Should ‘Just Adopt’ if You’re Having Fertility Problems
First off, adoption is not a responsibility that falls on people with medical disabilities. If you think it is a good thing and something we should do as a society, then you should do it. Second, infertility is a painful experience. Most adoption specialists will urge couples no matter how badly they want a child to make sure they have completed the grieving process and are truly open to growing their family. Let me be clear: these kids are not a consolation prize. They are not a runner up child. They are perfect. This myth can be insulting to children and grieving parents. Also, if you have ever contacted DSS, you know they are not an adoption service. They are very open about their goal being family reunification whenever possible. It’s just not that simple.
Myth #5: Adoption is too Expensive
Oh yes, it can be expensive. However, adoption from social services is basically free and comes with training … as well as its own unique challenges. Many people adopt through family, which has different legal steps and far fewer fees. Private infant adoption is expensive and risky through agencies. But these agencies help provide for the birth mother during pregnancy and allow her to choose from parents already carefully checked out. An agency may not be necessary for you to find your family, though. Another option, international adoption, varies in costs by location, but travel alone can be high. That being said, know these three things: becoming a parent is expensive anyway, they are 100% worth it, and there are many avenues to help including grants, tax credits, and more. If you’re thinking about adoption, get information on how to afford it!