Are you considering adoption? Some of what you hear about adoption may not be true. There are many myths about domestic adoption that are widely believed. Read the most common myths about adoption and what you should really expect!
- MYTH: Expect to wait a long time, because adoption takes forever.
Wait times for hopeful adoptive parents can vary greatly, but the average wait time for U.S. newborn adoptions is around 1-2 years. Your wait time depends on many factors, like whether you have a gender preference and any specific preferences on the race of the baby. Your wait time can also depend on whether you adopt through an agency, attorney, or foster care, and how quickly they are able to finalize an adoption.
- MYTH: It is faster and easier to adopt internationally, rather than domestically.
International has been in the spotlight since China created their ‘one-child policy’ and celebrities like Angelina Jolie began adopting from Africa. While these instances receive quite a bit of attention from the media, the vast majority U.S. citizens adopt domestically rather than internationally. Attempting to better protect the rights of children and birth parents, recent laws governing international adoptions have made adopting internationally more difficult for U.S. citizens. International adoptions have seen an overall decrease due to concerns about corruption and child-trafficking. Some countries, like Russia, have even halted adoptions to the United States all together.
- MYTH: You have to be very wealthy to adopt, as adoption is extremely expensive
Adoption costs vary greatly based on a multitude of factors: the cost of the adoption program you choose, their advertising costs, using professionals in creating your profile, travel and hotel costs, time between your match and the birth mother’s due date, etc. However, the average cost of adoption generally ranges from $15,000-$40,000 before applying the Adoption Tax Credit. There are several options to help you financially during the adoption process. However, the first step for all of those different avenues you will need to finish your home study. Also, some employees may qualify for some reimbursement of adoption funds through employer benefits. Finally, military families also can be eligible to receive a subsidy for adoption costs.
- MYTH: Birth mothers are almost all teenagers facing unplanned pregnancy.
While some birth mothers are teenagers, the vast majority of birth mothers are women in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties. Many of these women are already parenting children and are unable to support another child. Some women may be homeless or living in an unstable environment and are unable to provide for a child.
- MYTH: A birth mother’s parents may step in at any time and take the adopted baby.
Grandparents have no legal rights in adoption. Only the birth mother and birth father have legal rights in adoption, and the decision to place is solely up to the birth parents. Grandparents have no legal claim to the child and cannot take the child against the wishes of a birth mother. However, while grandparents have no legal rights in adoption, they may speak to the birth parent, provide input, and perhaps influence a birth mother’s decision on a personal, rather than legal level.
- MYTH: You will probably experience heartbreak with adoption. Birth parents can come back and take their baby at any time.
Hollywood and the media love to dramatize adoption stories and tend to focus on the most salient cases surrounding adoption fails or a birth parent reclaiming a child. However, these cases are much rarer than you may think. If a birth mom chooses you as the adoptive parent(s) for her baby, there is a good chance that she will place with you. Adoption is a legal process and each state has its own set of laws governing this process. Because of this, states have different laws on revocation periods, or the amount of time a birth mother has to change her mind about the adoption. In the State of Wisconsin, that time period is until the birth mother and birth father completes the Termination of Parental Rights hearing. In other states, some revocation periods can be as long as 45 days, while some can be instant, as soon as the legal documents have been signed by the birth parents.
- MYTH: Agreeing to an open adoption really means “co-parenting” with the birth parents.
An open adoption simply means that there is some form of communication or relationship between the birth parents and adoptive parents. However, this can simply be the birth mother choosing the adoptive family for her baby. Most often, an open adoption means that the birth mother chooses the family and there is some communication prior to, and during the birth of the baby. In some cases, a birth mother asks to receive picture and letter updates about her baby after the child is born. In very rare cases, visitation is agreed upon by the birth mother and adoptive parent(s). However, an open adoption encompasses a wide range of adoption agreements and rarely involves co-parenting between birth parents and adoptive parents.