Though many in society may not recognize it, adoption is all around us, and is a normal part of how thousands of families come together. Indeed, six out of every ten Americans are touched by adoption in some fashion. Along with this, roughly 7 million Americans have been adopted. Each year, roughly 135,000 children are adopted in the United States. Yet, there are many myths and misconceptions surrounding adoption. Here are ten truths about adoption.
- Adoption is Also a Loss For a Child.
The adoption of a child is indeed a joyous and happy one. Yet, the internal process for all involved can be a challenging one, especially for the child. He may have a difficult time accepting the fact that he will never return to live with his biological parents or birth family members again. It is necessary for adoptive parents to allow the child time to grieve the loss of connection with his birth family. He may very well need time to experience the stages of grief before he fully transfers attachment from his birth family to his new family.
2. Post Adoption Depression is Real.
What many adoptive parents discover after an adoption is Post Adoption Depression. Feelings of anxiety, depression, and stress may occur with the adoptive parent after the adoption has taken place. There may be several reasons why adoptive parents experience this form of depression following an adoption. For some, unresolved feelings of grief and loss from past trauma within the parent may surface. For others, it may be unresolved infertility issues that were never addressed. Still, other adoptive parents may struggle with the challenges of attachment or bonding with the child that were more difficult than first expected.
3. Most Adoptions Come From Foster Care.
Of the over 560,000 children placed in foster care in 2010, it is estimated that 107,000 of these foster children became eligible for adoption. Sadly, only around 53,000 of these children were adopted during that year, with over half of these children being adopted by foster parents, with the rest being adopted by family members, and a small percentage being adopted by non relatives. Nearly 60% of children in foster care in America wait 2 or more years before being adopted.
4. Adoptions Are Not Always Costly.
Many times, adoption can be a very expensive. Adoption agencies both inside our nation and around the world often charge large fees that are beyond most families. Adopting through the foster care system, though, is free of these high expensive. In most states, both federal and state assistance programs are available to foster parents during the adopting process. Many states provide an attorney for the foster parents, thus making it even more financially beneficial. Even more helpful for adoptive foster parents is that most children under foster care supervision are already covered by the federal Medicaid assistance program, and may also become eligible for the same assistance from the state after the adoption process is complete.
5. Post Adoption May Have Additional Expenses.
Adoptive foster parents will find that the adoption financial assistance they received each month when fostering no longer available once the child becomes a legal part of the family. Indeed, once the child is adopted, these former foster parents will become responsible for all financial obligations; day care, clothing, extracurricular activities and perhaps even therapy and counseling sessions will no longer be supplemented by the state.
6. Attachment Issues May be a Factor.
It is important to remember that even though am adopted child now has a new last name and a new forever family, he will most likely still have very strong feelings about his biological family and background. The older he is, the stronger these binds to his biological family will be. It is very dangerous for adoptive families to discount this background and his feelings towards them. Instead, recognize them as an important of who he is, and try to incorporate them into his life.
7. Honesty About Adoption is Essential.
Adoptive parents must be open about the knowledge that their child was indeed adopted. To be sure, this truth should never be hidden from the child. If he should ask any questions about his biological parents or birth family, adoptive parents need to answer them as honestly as possible. At the same time, help him to transfer attachment from his birth family to yours by ensuring that he is included in all aspects of your family, and when possible, incorporate parts of his previous family’s traditions into your own, as it helps him to feel more comfortable. After all, his birth family gave him his appearance and gender, his intelligence, his temperament, talents, and of course, his life. These, of course, will never change.
8. Open Adoptions Can be Healthy.
If possible, and if everyone feels comfortable with the idea, consider having an Open Adoption. An Open Adoption allows open contact between the biological parents and the adoptive child, allowing for the potential of a one on one relationship between both sides, as they interact directly with each other. Communication may consist of letters, emails, social networking sites, phone calls, and even visits. Open adoption benefits both sides, especially the child, as it permits him to resolve any feelings of loss and relationship, and gives him access to information that he might seek later on in life. These types of adoption also allow the child to maintain relationships and connections with people who are important in his life. Open adoptions are not for everyone, and serious consideration needs to be made before making a decision either way.
9. Parenting Will Be Different.
There will be difficult times during the adoption process, and afterwards too. It may seem, at times, that the family relationship is going backwards. Along with the issues of attachment that may occur, there are likely to be learning disabilities in those children who have been adopted. In addition, children who have been adopted also often experience behavioral challenges, as well. Health issues may also occur due to possible substance abuse during pregnancy and at birth from the biological mother. All of these may bring additional stress and challenges in regards to parenting the child.
10. The Child is the Most Important Part.
There will be challenges, in a number of ways. In truth, the vast majority of children do not ask to be adopted, nor ask to leave their biological family. Yet, it is the child that is the center of the adoption, and every effort should be made to ensure that the child receives the support, love, and resources the child needs. This may mean finding appropriate professional help and therapy for the child with the challenges he faces. Don’t expect treatment and therapy to quickly resolve all issues, and don’t expect that simply loving the child through this process will relieve all symptoms. Finally, adoptive families need to embrace the knowledge that their family will look different from many in society, yet these differences should also be celebrated.
Dr. John DeGarmo is an international expert in parenting and foster care and is a TEDx Talk presenter. Dr. John is the founder and director of The Foster Care Institute. He and his wife have adopted three children from foster care and have had over 60 children from foster care come through their home. He is an international consultant to schools, legal firms, and foster care agencies, as well as an empowerment and transformational speaker and trainer for schools, child welfare, businesses, and non profit organizations. He is the author of several books, including The Foster Care Survival Guide and writes for several publications. Dr. John has appeared on CNN HLN, Good Morning, America, and NBC, FOX, CBS, and PBS stations across the nation. He and his wife have received many awards, including the Good Morning America Ultimate Hero Award. He can be contacted at drjohndegarmo@gmail, through his Facebook page, Dr. John DeGarmo, or at The Foster Care Institute.