The true gift of adoption: 8 common myths dispelled
November is National Adoption Month
By Marta Loeb
For as long as I can remember, I knew I was adopted. I suppose there must have been a time when my parents told me - but it was nothing scandalous or secretive. To my brother and me, it was a completely ’normal’ thing that made us feel ’special." Kind of like our parents had given us a gift. When my husband and I considered having a second child, we naturally yearned to give this gift to another child.
After our first son was born with a congenital heart defect our plans for adopting were solidified. We embarked on an amazing (albeit frustrating) journey to adopt a child and carefully researched options in five countries including Columbia, Guatemala, China, Khuzestan and Ecuador before we ultimately decided to pursue a domestic adoption.
Earlier this year our second son was born into our hearts and joined our family. Today we are the proud parents of two very healthy and happy boys - one biological and one adopted.
As we have gone through the adoption process, I’ve been asked many questions by those unfamiliar with domestic adoption. Some of the questions are simple, others are downright offensive and still others are simply out of curiosity. With the hope that we can encourage other families to consider the amazing gift of adoption my husband and I have compiled the following list of the ’Top eight adoption myths."
1. There are no ’white’ babies for adoption in the US.
With the rise in international adoption there is a belief that a domestic adoption is either not an option or too expensive. This is not true. In fact, the only real difference between domestic and international adoption is the time it takes and the type of risk you face. Information is not very current, however, a survey conducted in 1992 by the National Council for Adoption reported that nearly 60,000 domestic adoptions were facilitated in the US. Comparatively, it is estimated that 10,000 babies born outside of the US are adopted by American families during the same period. ( I WOULD NOT LISTEN TO ANYTHING THAT THE NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR ADOPTION HAS TO SAY. THEY ARE KNOWN LIARS. THEY WILL DO ANYTHING TO KEEP THEIR SECRETS EXACTLY THAT)
2. Adopting is ’easier’ than giving birth.
Pregnant women withstand a significant physical challenge over the nine months they carry a baby. Then she has to deliver - not for the faint of heart and quite a physical accomplishment. Adoptive mothers don’t actually go through the same physical ’workout’ as pregnant women, but what she saves in physical expense, she makes up in emotional expense. From the moment you decide to adopt a child, you are on a roller coaster. Until that child is safely in your arms in your own home you are always questioning whether it will really happen. For international adoptions you have the added emotional expense of traveling to typically a third-world country in which you don’t speak their language and you’re thrust into their legal and government system.
3. You can’t love an adopted child as much as a biological one.
Maternal love is boundless. I can’t even begin to describe the warmth and love our second son has brought us. I adore every little bit of him, every moment with him and have never felt ’one step removed’ or more connected to our biological son. I have been trying to figure out how to explain it and the best way is to compare (but magnify) the feeling you get when you hear of another child being hurt, or see a child being treated badly or think of a child who has lost a parent or something significant in their lives. The feeling is deep in your heart and you yearn to protect that child. The love for an adopted child is just like that. Deep in your heart and no different than the love you have for a biological child. In fact, I really can’t put my finger on a difference
4. Adoption is only for parents who can’t have children.
While adoption is an ideal choice for families with fertility challenges, it certainly is not exclusively meant for parents who can’t have children. There are so many children who need good homes that I would encourage anyone who has the resources to consider it. Our situation is a perfect example. While it was not definite that we would have another child with a birth defect, adoption was a logical and perfect option for us. Others have chosen to adopt because they were adopted, waited until later in life and wanted to add to their family or they were fortunate enough to have the resources to it. Adoptive families come in all shapes, sizes and situations.
5. Domestic adoption is very risky as your child could be taken away from you at any time.
We’ve all seen the stories of the child ripped out of their adoptive families’ arms because their birth mother or birth father changed their minds. In all of these cases the adoption process was flawed and, most often, the legal process was not adhered to. Depending upon where you live and where you adopt from the details all vary but each state requires legal documentation which involves a lawyer. This is to prevent the scandalous things we all see on TV. Each state has rescission timeframes during which a birth mother can change her mind. This can range from 24 hours to up to a week. After this point an adoption is official and while the adoptive family is monitored over the first year to make sure the child has been placed in a safe and loving home. There are rare, if any instances, where a birth mother has been able to take a child out of an official adoption, unless the circumstances within the adoptive home are extenuated.
6. An adopted child is at greater risk of developmental or emotional challenges.
This question is probably the one that makes me laugh most and at the same time makes me angry. Why in the world would an adoptive child be at any greater developmental or emotional risk than a biological child? We all can count on both hands the biological children we know with challenges of their own. As time has proven over and over again, nurture supersedes nature when it comes to the growth and well-being of a child. If he or she is a loving home where they are cared for they will thrive. If the circumstances are different be it a biological or adoptive child, neither child will grow into a healthy happy child. (TO ME NATURE AND NURTURE ARE BALANCED. THERE ARE INFLUENCES FROM BOTH SIDES. I AM MATHEMATICALLY INCLINED BUT MY ADOPTIVE FAMILY IS NOT.. IS THIS PERSON DISCOUNTING MY ABILITIES OR THOSE OF MY BIRTH FAMILY?)
7. An adopted child from a birth mother who abused alcohol or drugs is at a high risk for future substance abuse.
While studies have shown that children available for adoption in the US are often from birth mothers who are at risk themselves, there is no evidence that an adopted child is more likely to have future substance issues, purely because they are adopted. There is significant information of course on the negative impact of drugs and alcohol and no child should be subjected to such harm. Parenting plays a major role in a child’s values and choices as they grow regardless of whether they are adopted or not.
8. Adopted children will grow up wanting to find their birth parents and/or feeling like something in their lives is missing.
Many adoptees have a desire to meet and know their birth parent(s). However, it is not a rule. I never felt like I was missing something other biological children had. I knew my parents loved me and I knew that adoption was purely how I came into the family. Subsequently, when my birth mother attempted to contact me when I was 25, I declined as I did not feel the need nor did I want my parents to feel uncomfortable. It’s true that the adoption world supports this kind of contact and many families are opting for open adoptions these days, but it is not an absolute. (THIS IS ONE I TOTALLY DISAGREE WITH-- I KNOW THAT A MAJORITY OF ADOPTEES THAT I HAVE ENCOUNTERED IN MY JOURNEY WANT THEIR INFORMATION ESPECIALLY THEIR ORIGINAL BIRTH CERTIFICATES. THIS SOUNDS LIKE SOMEONE WHO IS BEING FED THE NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR ADOPTION RHETORIC)
As I am writing this our second son Oscar is jumping up and down in his saucer and he hasn’t stop laughing. It is these moments that I stop and think how lucky I am to have something so special to love. The thread of adoption in our family continues on and there truly is no limit to our love. We hope that this information inspires others to open their arms and hearts to this kind of love.