MYTH: You can’t love an adopted child as much as a biological child.
FACT: Regardless of how a child joins your family, when you become a parent you can love your child with the deep love of a parent. It may take some time to adjust to your new addition and fully bond, but biology does not determine your capacity to love a child.
MYTH: Adoption is only for those who cannot have biological children
FACT: Adoption does not have to be “Plan B.” Some people choose to adopt children instead of or in addition to having biological children. People choose adoption for many reasons. Some may not be able to have biological children, but others want to provide a home for a child who needs one or feel that it is part of their religious calling. Some people who are adopted or who have personal experience with adoption choose to adopt because of their experiences.
MYTH: Only young, married couples can adopt.
FACT: You can become an adoptive parent regardless of your age or marital status. We do home studies for singles and married couples, same-sex couples and heterosexual couples, young people and older people. What is most important is your ability to provide a loving home for a child who needs one.
MYTH: Birth mothers are all teenagers and/or drug addicts.
FACT: Children who need adopted come from many backgrounds. Many birth mothers are stable, intelligent people who have decided to make an adoption plan because they believe that is the best thing for their child. Some children are actual orphans or have birth families who are unable to take care of them. Some mothers are teenagers and some may struggle with substance abuse, but that is certainly not the case for all birth mothers.
MYTH: All children who need adopted have special needs.
FACT: Whether you are pursuing international or domestic adoption, there are all types of children need adoption. Some may have special needs or medical conditions and some do not. In the foster care system, children have experienced some form of abuse or neglect, but these experiences do not always have lasting negative effects on the child once they become part of a loving, healthy family and the issues that led to their adoption are addressed. Many families actually choose to adopt children with special needs because they have the ability to provide a loving home where the child can have all their needs addressed.
MYTH: There is no real need for adoption, it is always unethical and amounts to child stealing.
FACT: There is a great need for adoption. While there are sadly some children who have become available for adoption because of coercion or fraud, that is certainly not the case for all or even most children who are adopted. There are now laws in place in the US to make sure that birth mothers are not coerced into choosing adoption for their child. Some international adoption agencies have acted in an unethical way, but many organizations have high ethical standards and the children they place for adoption are truly in need of a family. There are also things you can do to ensure your international adoption will be ethical. In foster care, the first goal is reunification with the child’s birth family, except in extreme cases. When children become available for adoption through foster care, it is because they are unable to be safely reunited with their birth families and need a loving, permanent family. There are currently over 100,000 children who the courts have determined are unable to reunite with their birth families and are legally free for adoption. About 20,000 children age out of the foster care system each year without being adopted into a forever family.
MYTH: Birth families can take their child back even after an adoption is finalized.
FACT: While there may be a period of time before and adoption is finalized when a birth mother can decide to parent their own child, once the birth parents’ rights are terminated and the adoption is finalized it is permanent and irrevocable. There are very limited exceptions during a short window of time if the consent to adoption is determined to be a result of fraud or coercion. Even during the waiting period, very few birth mothers change their mind about choosing adoption for her child, especially once the child is placed with the adoptive family.
Congratulations! Getting a home study is a big step in your adoption process. While there is still a lot that will happen before your child officially becomes part of your family, you are on your way! While you are going through the requirements, paperwork, and background checks to become legally ready to adopt a child, it can be difficult to know when to actually start preparing your home to bring your child home. Like many things in adoption, there is no clear-cut answer to this and it’s different for everyone.
For some, “nesting,” or getting your home ready to welcome your child, is an important part of helping make the process feel “real.” In that case, you may want to start gathering things little by little throughout the process. Sometimes, starting to get things for your child can help you feel like you’re doing something in the waiting process. Shopping the sales or looking for good condition toys and items at garage sales can be a fun activity that gives you a way to express your excitement for your child.
For others, preparing things for a child who may not come for many months or even years can just add to the difficulty of waiting. This may be especially difficult for those who have experienced infertility, particularly if you are anticipating adopting an infant. In this case, seeing a perfectly decorated nursery with an empty crib and drawers full of baby clothes that have never been worn could be an overwhelming reminder of your loss. You need to know yourself and know what will be helpful for your emotional preparation for your adoption.
If you have children, especially younger children, including them in the process of preparing for a child, can help give them a more concrete grasp on the complex concept of adoption. Doing little things to prepare can also naturally give you the opportunity to have conversations with your child(ren) about adoption and encourage them to ask questions.
Preparing for an adopted child can be complicated. You may or may not know the age your child will be, if you will welcome a boy or girl, or exactly when you will be able to bring your child home. You may want to wait until you know more about your child (age, gender, etc) before you set up his or her room, decorate, or buy clothes. For older children, it can also be helpful to have them participate in choosing most of their clothes and decorations for their room
Even before you know any definite details, you can still start by getting a few things that will work for any child in your age range. For example, if you are planning to adopt an infant or toddler, getting a few versatile items like hooded towels, bath toys, board books, or soft toys. For an elementary school-age child, you may start gathering some books for young readers, balls, crayons, craft supplies, stuffed animals, or building toys. If your age range is middle schoolers, you could look for some art supplies, books, children’s movies, Legos, or games. High schoolers can be trickier, but things like books, nice notebooks, board games, picture frames (which they can use for their own photos), or casual sporting equipment like a frisbee or basketball.
Regardless of when you start physically preparing, when your child actually arrives at your house, the love of your family will be the most important thing to welcome her home!