Myths about adoption

Adoption is a complex subject, and there are often many false perceptions surrounding it. Misconceptions and myths perpetrate through the world of adoption, skewing the public’s view of the beauty and value in families built through adoption. It is time to shed some light on what these myths are and deconstruct them by providing evidence of the reality of adoption.

MYTH: There are no orphans in the United States.
TRUTH: There are children who need adoption in the United States.

In the United States foster care system, there are more than 100,000 children who are waiting for adoption into family. You can learn more about foster care here.

MYTH: It’s faster to adopt internationally than from U.S. foster care.
TRUTH: It's easier to adopt from U.S. foster care.

On average, it takes a year to adopt a child from the United States foster care system. The average time it took to complete an international adoption in 2011 from Hague Convention countries ranged from 79 days to almost two years. Additionally, most adoptions from foster care lower financial costs for the family, while international adoption programs can average between $25,000 and $40,000.

MYTH: You need a lot of money in order to adopt.
TRUTH: In order to adopt, you just have to be willing and ready to share your life.

While there are a great number of variables that can contribute to the cost of an adoption, it is certainly true that the process can be quite expensive. Even so, families do not need to be wealthy or have a substantial amount tucked away in savings in order to welcome a child into their family through adoption. In fact, it is generally not the case that a family can absorb the expense of an adoption without some element of financial help. As a result, there are a number of programs and organizations that exist to meet this very need. Adoption costs can often be offset by state and federal tax credits, subsidies offered for adoptions through foster care, adoption fee benefits provided by employers, sliding scale fees by agencies based on a family’s income or ability to pay, reimbursements for adoption costs for those serving in the armed forces, Adoption Aid grants, and low interest loans.

MYTH: You can only adopt a child who is the same race and ethnicity as you.
TRUTH: You can adopt any race or ethnicity.

Federal law prohibits the delay or denial of an adoptive placement based on the race or ethnicity of a child and his/her prospective parents. The only exception to this law is the adoption of Native American children where special considerations may apply.

MYTH: All children in foster care have special needs.
TRUTH: Not all children in foster care have special needs.

The majority of children in foster care, through no fault of there own, are children who have walked through the misfortune of having to be removed from their families due to abuse or neglect. A child whose file has been classified as “special needs” may qualify for adoption assistance due to specific factors such as: being an older child, being part of a sibling group needing to be placed together as one unit, medical conditions, and physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. A child considered to have special needs should not be confused with a child who requires special educational resources.

MYTH: You’re not allowed to adopt children you foster.
TRUTH: It is a possibility to adopt the children you foster.

While more than half of all children in U.S. foster care return to their birth families, there are many children who cannot return to their biological parents. Of the thousands of children who are adopted from foster care each year, more than half are adopted by their non-relative foster parents.

MYTH: You cannot adopt a child you know personally.
TRUTH: You can adopt a child you know personally.

When a child is removed from their home, placed into U.S. foster care, and becomes available for adoption, a caseworker will often explore connections the child already has with adults in their life as possible placements for adoption or foster care.

MYTH: If you’re the relative of a child in foster care, the State will not place them with you because of assumed connection to the abusive or neglectful parent(s).
TRUTH: The child can be placed with you as long as you can adequately care for the child.

All relatives of children in foster care are considered the preferred placement for children—so long as they’re able to provide for the child’s safety and well-being.

MYTH: Adopting or fostering a child who’s been removed from the care of their birth parents is dangerous.
TRUTH: Every situation is different, but the danger is mitigated by the courts.

It is through no fault of their own that children are placed into foster care. For adoptive placements, very few birth parents reappear after their parental rights have been legally terminated. In the instances where children have continued relationships with their birth family, it’s because the arrangement is determined to be beneficial, safe, and healthy for everyone involved.

MYTH: Sibling relationships don’t matter.
TRUTH: Sibling relationships do matter and can help the children involved to stay emotionally connected.

Placing siblings together is almost always the optimal outcome after being separated from birth parents. It helps provide continuity and prevents the trauma of additional loss.

MYTH: You can’t adopt a child or sibling group from another state.
TRUTH: You can adopt a child or sibling group from another state.

Currently, there are more than 100,000 children in foster care who are waiting for placement into a family. Often, children will be adopted into a family who lives in a different state. These adoptions may take longer, but it is worth the wait.

MYTH: A birth parent or other birth relative can take a child back even after the adoption is complete.
TRUTH: This is not true if the parents' rights have been legally terminated.

Adoption from foster care is a legally binding agreement that is not finalized until the rights of all parents have been legally terminated by a court of law. It’s very rare that an adoption is challenged in court.

MYTH: You have to be young in order to adopt.
TRUTH: Older parents are often sought to become adoptive families.

Many people believe that in order to be eligible to adopt, prospective parents must be within the age range of natural childbearing. While it is true that requirements differ based on a country’s particular adoption program, older parents and/or empty nesters are often among the demographic sought for adoptive families. In fact, for many international adoption programs, parents who are 55 at the time of their application can qualify for an infant or toddler adoption. For more information on the requirements currently necessary to adopt internationally, contact a reputable agency to discuss what programs they offer.

MYTH: You can't adopt if you're in the military.
TRUTH: Military families are eligible to adopt.

Military families are eligible to adopt children from the U.S. foster care system. Many programs even offer adoption benefits to military families who are in the adoption process.

MYTH: I cannot love an adopted child the way I love a biological child.
TRUTH: You can absolutely love your child just as much as a biological child.

Many prospective adoptive parents are influenced by this fear/myth. The truth that is testified to over and over again after adopting, is that you can and do love a child who came home through adoption just as much as a biological child. The love for your children is not a matter of blood; it is a matter of love.

MYTH: There are no babies being placed for adoption in the U.S.
TRUTH: There are thousands of babies in the U.S. who are waiting for their forever family.

Each year, there are more than 20,000 U.S.-based infants who are placed for adoption.


* “Common Myths.” AdoptUSKids. Web. 24 Oct 2013. Source: These statistics came from the the most recent adoption and foster care statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families Adoption and Foster Care Analysis Reporting System