The decision to adopt a child is a big one. Not only will your life change forever once you welcome a child into your home, but you will also be having an incredibly positive impact on the life of the child. If you're thinking of adopting, you may have heard some myths than have left you questioning whether or not this is really the right decision for you. However, many of the so-called "concerns" about adoption that are floating around are simply not true at all. Here's a look at four of those myths -- and the real facts they are keeping from you.
Myth #1: You can't adopt if you are not married.
Adoption agencies once gave a strong preference to married couples because marriage was seen as an indication of a stable income and family life. Over the past few decades, this has all changed. Though there are still some agencies who discriminate against unmarried people, it is completely legal for you to adopt as a single parent, and adoptions of this type go through the courts regularly. You can also adopt "jointly" with another adult, whether that other adult is a romantic partner, a friend, or a relative of yours. If you're having trouble finding an adoption agency that will work with you because you are not adopting as a married couple, contact an adoption layer in your area. They can make some recommendations.
Myth #2: You have to adopt from a foreign country now because there are so few children available domestically.
There is nothing wrong with adopting from a foreign country, and there are many children overseas who are in need of stable families. However, you should not feel like adopting from a foreign nation is your only option. As of 2014, there were 107,918 children in the U.S. foster care system waiting to be adopted. Many more adoptions are carried out through private contracts between the birth parents and adoptive parents, facilitated by private adoption agencies. Adoption takes time, whether you adopt domestically or from a foreign country, so the most important thing you can do if you're considering adoption is to start getting in touch with adoption agencies and the foster care system immediately.
Myth #3: Adopting a young child is risky because the birth mother could come back and reclaim him/her.
If an adoption is properly carried out through the court system and overseen by a knowledgeable attorney, this cannot legally happen. Once the adoption papers are signed, the child is legally yours -- his or her birth parents have no rights when it comes to custody.
Your adoption contract will set forth how much contact you and the child have with the birth parents throughout the child's lifetime. You can opt for a completely closed adoption, in which no contact is kept with the birth parents at all. However, most adoptive parents these days opt for some degree of openness in the adoption. The birth parents may be able to visit once a year, or they may be sent pictures periodically -- whatever your adoption contract dictates. However, they can never show up and reclaim the child or demand that the court gives them custody again.
Myth #4: Only unhealthy babies and children are available for adoption.
Many children are born each year with birth defects and congenital diseases, and some of these children do end up in the adoption system. However, there are also perfectly healthy children who are in need of adoptive parents. When you begin working with an adoption agency, they will ask you a lot of questions -- including questions about which hardships and ailments you are willing and able to deal with. If you are not equipped to raise a child with certain ailments, then you will not be paired with such a child. If you do have it in your heart to raise a child with some health struggles, the agency will bring these children to your attention. But under no circumstances will you be "stuck" adopting a child who requires more care than you are able to give.