Adoptive parents face all kinds of challenges in their efforts to build a family through adoption. Dealing with society’s misperceptions about them is one of them.
Most people don’t mean any harm. It’s hard to really understand adoption until you go through it. Here are some facts about hopeful adoptive parents to set the record straight and explain what they are — and are not.
Fact: Adoption isn’t cheap, and although it helps to be well off you don’t have to be rich to adopt. In fact, in adoption, your emotional resources count for a lot more important than your financial ones. As long as you have enough money to raise a child, you won’t be turned away from adopting.
Fact:Waiting parents know how hard it is to create a connection with expectant parents. But they also know if an expectant parent has doubts about something they said, it could jeopardize or even sink their chances of finding a match. That’s why it’s important for them to be upfront and honest from the start and to be able to back up everything they say.
Fact:Adoption is a package deal. When you adopt a child, you also adopt the child’s family. Whether they want to acknowledge it or not — and they always should — an adopted child will always have another family and a lifelong connection to it. In their education courses, that’s one of the things waiting parents learn about. And they also learn about ways to honor it, through words and actions that include anything from exchanging photos to phone calls to visits.
Myth: Adoptive parents don’t love their adopted child as much as their biological one.
Fact:Blended families are a way of life today, and adoptive families are no exception. Parenting an adopted child isn’t better or worse than adopting a biological one. Just ask any of the thousands of parents out there who have done it. It’s just different. Couples and singles choose open adoption first and foremost because they want to be parents. The fact that the child has no biological connection to them is irrelevant. Nor does it mean they love the child any less than “their own.”
Myth: Adoptive parenting is no different than biological parenting.
Fact: Although there are many similarities between adoptive and biological parenting — for instance, comforting your child after a fall or taking pride in your child’s achievements at school — there are many differences. For instance, biolological children don’t have questions who their parents are or why they live in a different family from their brother or sister. All parenting is a challenge. Adoptive parenting — particularly if your child is of a different race or color than you — adds a few more challenges to the mix that adoptive parents need to address openly and honestly with their child.
Myth: Adoptive parents always break their openness agreements with their child’s birth parents.
Fact: It’s true that not every adoption agreement goes as smoothly as planned. Sometimes it’s becuase of the adoptive parents, and sometimes it’s because of the birth parents. Before the adoption is approved, prospective birth parents have more control over the matching process than adoptive parents. But afterwards, control shifts to the adoptive parents. To prevent adoptive parents from going back on their word, it’s important for both sides to mutually respect one another and to let what’s best for their child to guide their actions.
Myth: Gays aren’t as good parents as heterosexual ones.
Fact: Studies show that children of gay parents show no significant differences compared to children in heterosexual homes in regards to adjustment and social development. In fact, children in gay families scored higher than kids in straight families in certain things like self-esteem and confidence and even did better in school. Part of the reason is because children in gay families tend to be exposed to more complicated topics like tolerance and diversity more frequently and earlier on in life.
Myth: For hopeful adoptive parents, adoption is second best to having children on their own.
Fact: Many wait parents come to adoption after unsuccessfully undergoing infertility treatments. And while it’s true that their first choice may have been to have biological children, it doesn’t mean that adoption is second best. It simply means that adoption was their second choice. But once they become parents, any distinctions between the two quickly slip away.
[Image: Flickr user gareth1953]