If you’re considering adoption, it can be hard to uncover what’s fact and what’s fiction. Trying to navigate such a massive web of information can be harder than you think. When browsing stories and articles about adoption, it’s easy to simply believe whatever you read. Perhaps you come across a random blog detailing someone’s adoption experience and it answers some lingering questions. You may be tempted to apply it to your own life. However, every adoption experience is different, and you will undergo triumphs and tribulations that others may not.
Nevertheless, common myths about adopted children run rampant. They often silence the truth, and are spread through any means of communication that exist. Whether online, by word of mouth, or even by adoption agencies themselves, many parents seeking answers are left even more confused than before. Fear not — after we dispel these misconceptions, you’ll leave with much needed peace of mind.
1. Adopted children won’t fit in
Many parents are under the false impression that adoption creates an unsuitable and uncomfortable environment for children. Oftentimes, terrible stories circulate about failed adoptions — the child was an outcast, they couldn’t “click” with the family, and they could never seem to fit in. But children are not jigsaw pieces that miraculously complete a perfect puzzle. Honestly, your family might turn out to be more like a patchwork quilt. Family bonds take years to form and hard work to maintain. If the child is treated with patience and love, there’s no reason for them to cast aside their home.
That doesn’t mean that adopted children won’t need time to adjust to a new setting. He or she will undoubtedly face difficulties throughout life that other kids won’t. But diversity should be celebrated, and backgrounds honored. If the child seems like a misfit, it’s usually because they’re being forced to conform to an exclusive environment. However, if their differences are acknowledged, your new family will thrive.
2. Adopted children won’t like their new family
The most common fear for parents is also one of the biggest myths about adopted children. As human beings, it’s natural to fear rejection. We are social creatures, and we crave the love and acceptance of others. Whenever you bring someone new into your life, there’s always that gnawing sense of trepidation. You hesitate to open your heart to someone that may end up turning you down.
Building any relationship is a process that involves frustration and mistakes. But that doesn’t mean you should succumb to defeat. If you’re already expecting the worst, you’re setting yourself up for failure. As long as you keep an open mind and open heart, your relationship will blossom. As your child grows, they will recognize your efforts and appreciate your compassion.
3. Adopted children won’t understand their adoption
We’ve seen it in all the books and movies — it’s the go-to plot twist. You can’t forget the shocking reveal that your favorite character was adopted. But even though it’s overused in fiction flicks, it’s uncommon in reality. It’s becoming increasingly less common for parents to hide the past from their children.
They may be small, but don’t underestimate them. Kids understand far more than we give them credit for. From a very young age, they observe your every action and reaction. Over time, children can absorb their surroundings and incorporate them into surprisingly complex thoughts. If a child can comprehend that you’ll always love and care for them, they won’t be threatened by the story of their adoption. If the idea of adoption is normalized in your household, your child will likely grasp the concept before you’re even done explaining.
4. Adopted children can’t handle open adoption
Most parents are afraid of overwhelming their little ones. Therefore, they avoid anything that will jeopardize their child’s sense of comfort and peace. In order to raise their child in a “normal” household, some parents decide against an open adoption.
It is your duty to establish boundaries between your family and your child’s birth mother. However, if your apprehension around open adoption stems from the belief that your child can’t handle it, you might want to reconsider. The idea of the ideal nuclear family — one dad, one mom, and one child — is now considered old-fashioned. This quintessential family model is not ingrained in your baby’s little head.
The world evolves and changes with every passing year, and “family” is constantly taking on a new definition. A modern family may include half-brothers, step-sisters, and those who aren’t even related. Your child has the opportunity to grow up in a progressing world, and connecting with two sets of parents might become a new standard. Don’t limit your child by wrongfully miscalculating their abilities.
5. Adopted children will be emotionally damaged
Most Americans are well aware of the pervasive problems in the foster-care system. We know somebody, or know of somebody who endured atrocities and abandonment during their childhood as an adoptee. These unfortunate stories give rise to the fear that any adopted child will be damaged beyond repair, deterring too many families from adoption as a result.
Every human has some cross to bear. Everybody has struggled in some way, shape, or form. It’s undeniable that adopted children sometimes face challenges that surmount the troubles of other kids their age. But that doesn’t mean your child will show up on your doorstep with back-breaking baggage that takes years to resolve.
Even if the child does carry the weight of their past, it isn’t “damage.” That word conjures thoughts of someone who’s “imperfect” or “flawed.” A child’s personal experience with adoption should not be treated lightly, but they should never be deemed “broken” rather than recognizing the events that are part of who they are.
6. Adopted kids will want to go back to their birth parents
There’s a misconception that children, when learning about their “real” family, will run right back to them. This is simply not the case. If children are raised with the understanding of their history, they can differentiate between both families.
Every adoptee’s relationship with their birth family is unique. Sometimes, they’re embraced with open arms. Other times, they will decide not to reach out. But at the end of the day, if you care for your child like any parent should, you grant them the freedom to pursue that part of themselves. Once you let your little one go, you must trust that they won’t forget their loyalty to you. Rather than subtracting love for you, they’ll just gain love for every important person in their life.
Harmful Myths About Adopted Children
It’s not “more trouble than it’s worth.” For so many families across America, adoption is the most magical thing that’s ever happened to them. Every day, adoption changes countless lives. Rather than letting fear hold you back, take a leap of faith into the unknown. Release the “what ifs” of never taking a chance, ignore the silly myths about adopted children, and discover the wonders that might await.
Adoption Choices of Oklahoma
If you are currently in the process of adopting a baby and have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact, Adoption Choices of Oklahoma. You may visit our website here or call 405-794-7500 (Oklahoma City) or 918-982-6220 (Tulsa).
Support Adoption Choices
Adoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowdrise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more.
However, we can’t do it alone. Please read up on our programs and donate money where you are able. Your donation will make a huge impact.
About the Author
Kenneal Patterson is a sophomore at Northeastern University in Boston. She is currently studying Journalism and Political Science, with a minor in Global Health. She is honored to work with Adoption Choices, and hopes that her journalism will inspire others to be more empathetic and kind. She thinks that writing can convey important messages of hope and love, and wants to share these messages with others.
Kenneal spends her summers at home in Golden, Colorado, with her many cats and dogs. She is eternally grateful to those who read her work!
Esme. “Talking Truth About Adoption.” ESME, 25 Oct. 2016, esme.com/resources/adoption/talking-truth-about-adoption.
MacCutcheon, Megan. “What If Babies and Toddlers Understand More Than We Think?” GoodTherapy.org Therapy Blog, 31 Mar. 2016, www.goodtherapy.org/blog/what-if-babies-toddlers-understand-more-than-we-think-0404164.