Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Adoption Myths (part 2 of 2)

(Continued from part one here.  Myth #1 Adoption costs tens of thousands of dollars. Myth #2 Adoptive moms can't breast feed their babies.)
'Newborn son: Tim' photo (c) 2012, Jan de Graaf - license:
3. Its almost impossible to adopt a newborn.
This depends on the type of adoption (see my explanation of the different types of adoption here).  For overseas adoptions, this is true, because the paperwork can take months to finalize, so realistically you will not be taking home a newborn.

As far as domestic private adoptions, these are almost exclusively of newborns.  Adoptive parents pick up their baby from the hospital, and in some cases may even be present at the birth, or within hours of the birth.

For foster care adoption, the answer is yes and no. Because the first priority in the foster care system is to reunite children with their birth families, babies are not usually adoptable as soon as they are born (there are a few exceptions to this, such as when a mother signs away her parental rights at the hospital. I have a cousin who was able to adopt a baby in this type of situation). In other situations, adoptive parents have to be open to taking a baby who may or may not be adoptable, and support the possibility of reunification until reunification happens or is terminated.  As far as the availability of babies in the foster care system, it does depend a bit on where you live (in an urban vs. rural area), but suffice it to say, we have only ever waited a few weeks, tops, for each of our foster placements.

What are the chances that a baby in the foster care system will become adoptable versus being reunited? I'm not sure a number can be easily quoted (though someone somewhere probably knows it). Our has been that we have had two babies so far, but that neither have been adoptable (but God has used our time with those babies for good, even when it didn't turn out as we hoped). We are now on our third baby, and its too early to predict if this baby might be adoptable or not. However, we seem to be a bit of an anomaly, as about 90% of the couples we know have adopted the first child that has come into their home. So there is risk involved, but for the believer who trusts in God's sovereignty, this risk is mitigated by the knowledge that God is in control. We always say "If God wants us to adopt this baby, there is a 100% chance that we will adopt".

4. Adopted kids are damaged goods.
I have never heard this stated in exactly these words, but people will often imply that they don't want to adopt because adopted children are messed up in some way. The biggest thing that people comment on (especially in the foster care system) is whether a child has been prenatally exposed to drugs (even though children prenatally exposed to drugs rarely have life-long effects from this).

It is true that adopted children face unique challenges.  If nothing else, they must mourn the loss of the birth family, and sometimes there are other wounds that must be healed. However, growing up in a fallen world, all children face some kind of hardship. The job of parents is not to protect their children from all hardship, or avoid welcoming children into their family who have faced some hardship, but to equip their children to deal with the hardship they will inevitably face, and to love them well at their lowest times.

Many, many adopted children grow up to be productive, emotionally-stable adults. Examples of famous adopted people include Nelson Mandela, Steve Jobs, Faith Hill and Dave Thomas (founder of Wendy's).

Have you heard any of these myths?


  1. There are lines of people waiting to adopt newborns, but older children languish in foster care for years, sometimes until they age out. Doesn't it make sense to meet the needs that no one else is meeting?

    1. It depends. "Lines of people" is a bit of an overstatement. The sad truth is, people are lining up to adopt white newborns, but not babies of other races. Our current foster baby (not white) was detained for two full days (which is a pretty long time in our area) before a family was found (us!).

      I definitely encourage people to adopt older kids out of the foster care system! That is certainly where the need is. We have friends who adopted an 8 year old from the system a few years ago. But its wise to realize that different families have the capacity for different children. For example, most families don't feel that its wise to adopt/foster a child who is older than the youngest child of their family (in order to not mess up birth order, which can cause a lot of strife). These families might be limited to just the younger ages of kiddos.