Myths & Truths Regarding Adoption

Myth: There are very few children available for adoption in the United States.
Truth: Nationally, there are hundreds of thousands of children in foster care who are available for adoption. It has been reported that over 4 million grandparents and relatives are raising children because the parents are unable to and many of those children are placed for adoption in non-relative families. Many thousands of adoptions occur in the United States each year and between 50% and 70% of those domestic adoptions are independent-private placement adoptions. Many hundreds of independent placement private adoptions are completed in Washington State each year.

Myth: There are no healthy infants available for adoption in the U.S.
Truth: Thousands of families adopt healthy, newborn babies each year. Many of them are through private adoption, where the biological mother, often called the birth mother, chooses the family herself. Domestic adoption is a very viable option for families who need help building their families.

Myth: It takes many years to complete an adoption.
Truth: A poll in the Adoptive Families Magazine indicated that most families are able to complete their adoption in about one year. This has generally been true of the families that our office has helped as well. Keep in mind however, that this is an average time as some families are successful in just a few months, while other families have been working on their adoption for one to two years.

Myth: Birth mothers are typically in their teens.
Truth: The most common profile of a birth mother who makes a voluntary adoption plan for her child is that she is usually in her twenties and already parenting one or two other children. She is also usually single and struggling to get by and chooses adoption because she wants a better life for her child than she feels she can give. She often plays an active role in making her adoption plan and in selecting an adoptive family.

Myth: Infants placed for adoption in the U.S. are all drug-exposed.
Truth: Most women considering adoption for their children are not using drugs or alcohol. Most adoptions involve unplanned pregnancy so lifestyle issues can be a factor for some, but the majority of women considering an adoption plan for their child are leading relatively healthy, normal lives. Public assistance provides good medical care benefits in all states as well, so most birth mothers are getting good prenatal care. They are choosing adoption because they care very much about their child.

Myth: The birth mother will take her baby back.
Truth: A very small percentage of birth mothers who voluntarily place their child with adoptive parents change their mind. The average age of birth mothers who place is in the mid 20’s. They are mature and are often raising other children, they know what parenting is about and they have chosen adoption because they know it gives the child a stable, loving, family and home that they felt they could not offer at that particular time in their lives.

Myth: The birth father can stop the adoption if he does not agree
Truth: Again, a very small percentage of voluntary adoptions are contested by the birth father. In most cases, he is cooperative and provides family background information for the benefit of the child. In situations where a birth father is known and not cooperative, the adoptive family knows very early on about his position and can choose with the birth mother whether to set up a Court hearing to try and terminate his parental rights, and whether or not his objections will likely be successful. This is always an issue that should be discussed with your attorney and in a state like Washington where the law allows him to be dealt with prior to a child’s birth, his position can be known and risks assessed early on to let all parties know if there will be a problem.

Myth: Adoption is too financially draining. It will cost $30,000-$40,000.
Truth: In many cases, an adoption can be completed for under $10,000. Families can adopt a child from the state foster care system for no charge – in fact, in most state foster care cases the state pays the family ongoing support. Present federal tax law also allows for an Adoption Tax Credit that can help reimburse adoption costs for most families. Each case is different but it is certainly possible to adopt a child without having to spend more than $30,000.

Myth: The State agency child protective services system offers a good method for a newborn child to be placed with a family and the state will handle everything if a birth mother is unable to.
Truth: A birth mother gets to choose a family and help decide how things will go for her child if she makes a voluntary placement plan and chooses an adoptive home rather than let the CPS workers make decisions about the child’s placement. Washington is one of the few states that has a law stating that if a birth parent with a child in the state foster care system makes a voluntary adoption plan for that child, the state must go along with her choice and honor her wishes. The state agency is a large and often inefficient organization, with caseworkers that have huge caseloads and often a shortage of time and resources to offer many choices.  On the other hand, an attorney experienced in adoption matters can help a birth mother and an adoptive family find each other and make an adoption plan to prevent CPS from even getting involved. Working together, the birth mother and the adoptive parents can plan an adoption that will fit both families’ and the child’s needs.