The following myths are often associated with public perceptions about the adoption experience. Adoption Options outlines common myths and responds with actual truths.
Birth parents can change their minds at any time and remove the child from the adoptive family.
The decision to place a child for adoption is both voluntary and permanent. After legal paperwork is filed with the court for an expedited relinquishment or after the birth parents appear in court for a traditional relinquishment, the birth parents cannot change their minds unless they can prove fraud or duress.
Healthy infants are not placed for adoption.
Most of the infants placed for adoption are healthy. Adoption Options’ counselors gather as much social and medical information from the birth parents as possible. This information includes family history of genetic conditions, prenatal substance exposure, and the extent of prenatal care. Adoption Options shares any and all known risk factors with adoptive families.
Birth parents don’t have any say in the adoption plan.
Birth parents are an integral part of the adoption plan. Adoption Options works with each birth parent to create an individualized and personal adoption plan. Birth parents have the opportunity to select the adoptive family, to meet that family, and to be part of the placement ceremony. If the birth parents do not wish to be part of that process, Adoption Options can choose the adoptive family on their behalf.
Birth parents will always regret their decision.
Birth parents are comforted by knowing they have made the best decision for themselves and their child. They receive extensive counseling about their decision. More often, regret stems from the unfortunate circumstances surrounding their inability to parent, rather than the decision to place their child for adoption. Counseling is available through Adoption Options for as long as the birth parents feel it is needed.
Adoptive families promise to keep in contact with birth parents and then don’t follow through.
Rarely do adoptive families make promises they do not honor. Communication is a major consideration in matching birth parents and adoptive families. Although the adoptive family’s obligation to communicate is moral and not legal, Adoption Options counsels them to understand and follow through on their commitments to birth parents for the benefit of their child.
All birth mothers are in high school.
The majority of birth parents are between the ages of 19 and 26. Since 1981, Adoption Options has counseled birth mothers as young as 12 and as old as 43.
Young people under 18 are not able to place their children for adoption without their parents’ permission.
Although the “age of competence” in Colorado is 18 for many decisions, it is not so when it comes to birth and parenting. Any biological parent, regardless of age, is considered an adult under the law and has the right to make independent decisions about their child. Legally, the only person who can make the decision to parent, or to place a child for adoption, is the child’s biological parent, not extended family or other interested parties.
Birth parents do not care about their babies which is why they “give them away.”
Birth parents love their babies. They make incredibly brave and unselfish decisions to place their children with adoptive families to give them the opportunity to have better lives than they feel they can provide.
Birth parents are irresponsible and many of them abuse drugs and alcohol.
The mere fact that a birth parent seeks to make a plan of adoption says a lot about their strength of character. It takes responsibility and courage to pursue a plan of adoption. We work with birth parents who are very active in seeking medical treatment and taking care of themselves during their pregnancies. On the other hand, we work with birth parents who do use drugs and/or alcohol during pregnancy. This does not always mean they are irresponsible. Denial can play a huge role in an unplanned pregnancy. If a person is unaware she is pregnant, she may not take care of herself the same way as if she had accepted her pregnancy.
Birth fathers have not rights unless the birth parents are married.
Birth fathers have rights even if they are not married to the birth mother. Adoption Options must make every effort to locate the birth father and inform them of the birth mother’s wish to make a plan of adoption. Birth fathers have a say in the placement of their child. They may participate in the plan of adoption or they may choose to parent their child. Should a birth father not agree with the adoption plan, in most cases, he will be required to take a paternity test to prove that he is the biological father.
Social services always gets involved in adoptions.
Social services does not get involved in voluntary relinquishments. If there is a plan of adoption, there is no need unless there are indications of abuse or neglect, or serious concerns about the safety of the child. If there are concerns, the birth parent counselor may initiate a report to social services. Nonetheless, if the birth parents wish to follow through on their adoption plan, social services will usually allow them to continue to work with Adoption Options to make the best decision for themselves and their child.
Adoptive parents see adoption as second best.
Most adoptive families are unable to have biological children. This is a source of great sadness for them, however, they are able to move forward and accept adoption as a positive way to build their families. They see adoption as a second chance to be parents to a child they will love and nurture.
Open adoption means that identifying information such as last names and addresses are shared.
Adoption Options never shares identifying information unless and until it is agreed upon by all parties. Adoption Options believes that relationships take time to develop. If the relationship between birth parents and an adoptive family grows to the point that all parties feel comfortable sharing identifying information, that is their choice. Adoption Options will support that choice, but it is not required.
There are no adoptive families for Hispanic or African American babies.
Families of all different races are interested in adopting minority children. Both white and minority families may adopt trans-racially, and there are many adoptive families for Hispanic and African American babies. Adoption Options recruits all types of adoptive families to make adoption available to all racial groups. While trans-racial adoption should be carefully considered, such adoptions can create healthy, happy and stable families.
International adoption is the only option because there are no children in this country available for adoption.
There are thousands of children in this country waiting to be adopted. Recent statistics suggest that 129,000 children in the foster care system are legally free for adoption. These children range in age and size of sibling groups. In addition, many private non-profit and for profit adoption agencies place infants for adoption. Research both private agencies and social services departments before making your final decision about how to build your family through adoption.
International adoption is less risky than domestic adoption.
There are risks involved in any adoption. There are several issues to consider when assessing the risk of an international adoption versus a domestic adoption. The first issue to consider is the involvement of the birth parents. Some believe that international adoptions are less risky because birth parents are not involved whereas, in domestic adoptions, birth parents often help create the plan of adoption. Do not underestimate the positive effect the involvement of birth parents can have on the child. Another issue to consider is the amount of information available about the child’s history. In international adoptions, often very little is known. Critical information may be missing that could help parent a child effectively. In domestic adoptions, a social and medical history is available about at least one parent. Finally, consider the health of the child. Children adopted internationally are generally thought to be emotionally and physically healthy; however, life circumstances may be very different in other countries. These children are often older and may have been subject to civil unrest, war, poverty, lack of food and health care, and institutionalization. As a result, they may exhibit adjustment, attachment AND health issues on arriving in the U.S.
Time frames for international adoptions are predictable.
Sadly, they are not. It is rare that waiting times for any adoption, either domestic or international, are predictable. In international adoptions, there are many factors to consider – the placing country’s change of policies, political leadership, attitude toward international adoption, war, corruption, etc. Countries may close their adoption programs at will and the U.S. state department may decide, at any time, that a country will not be allowed to places its children in the U.S. All these factors have an effect on wait time.
All adoption agencies are created equally.
They are not! In Colorado, all adoption agencies are licensed by the state department of human services. Anyone may access an adoption agency’s licensing file and review its status. An adoptive family may also wish to consider the agency’s longevity, its reputation, the number of placements made per year, its accreditation, and its philosophical perspective. Cost is obviously a big factor. Request a breakdown of all costs. Inquire whether there are additional costs and if so, what those are. Do not choose the cheapest agency because that’s all you feel you can afford. Don’t go with the most expensive because you think you will get better service. Choose an agency you feel you can partner with in your adoption journey.