“Oh, you’re adopting? Isn’t that expensive? Don’t you want a child of your own? What if the birth mother wants him back?”
If you’ve shared your decision to adopt with family and friends, you’ve likely heard these questions and witnessed the accompanying looks of concern. Although your loved ones want what’s best for you, they may not fully understand adoption. The reason? They don’t yet have the facts.
Television and the media often paint an inaccurate picture of adoption. Many people are led to believe that what they see in movies and on the news is common and typical. As adoptive parents, we have the power to change those beliefs. We have the facts and can share that information with others. We can educate our family, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances and help clear up these common adoption misconceptions:
Adoption isn’t just for the wealthy. Although adoption can at times be costly, rich movie stars are not the most common adopters. The majority are ordinary middle class people. They’re teachers, secretaries, engineers, accountants, factory workers, cashiers, and stay-at-home parents. Some pursue domestic infant adoption; others choose to adopt through foster care. And many opt for international adoption. Costs definitely vary, with international adoption being the most expensive. But still, there is a type of adoption to fit every budget and lifestyle. Foster care adoption, for example, is often very low cost, with fees only for a home study and legal paperwork. When we adopted our daughter as an infant domestically, the adoption tax credit reimbursed most of our expenses. Every situation is different. It’s up to each family to determine what works best for them.
Birth parents are not all unwed teenagers. Contrary to popular belief, birth parents come from a variety of life circumstances. When we were waiting to adopt, we came across some who were married with children already and couldn’t afford to support another child. Others were attending college and not yet established in their life and careers. The truth is: anyone can become a birth parent.
Birth parents cannot reclaim a child after the adoption is final. I remember some loved ones expressing concern that we could lose our child after the adoption. While birth parents can change their minds up until they sign relinquishment papers, once the adoption is final, this is no longer the case. The adoptive parents become that child’s legal parents. Only in very rare cases where there was a problem with the way the adoption was handled could this ever happen. That’s why people refer to adoptive families as “forever families”. It really is forever.
Adoptive parents share deep and lasting bonds with their children. Most adoptive parents will tell you that their child feels like a part of their family. One woman who has both biological and adopted children told me there is no difference in the love she feels for her kids. And, there have been many times when I actually forget my daughter was adopted. She is a part of me; and I am a part of her. We consider our children our “own,” even though we did not give birth to them. Our bonds are strong and deep. We would do anything to protect our kids and give them a happy, healthy life. Love — not biology — is what makes a family.