There are many misconceptions about private adoption. Whether you are a parent looking to make an adoption plan for your child, a family trying to decide how you would like to go about adopting, or just someone looking for more information – we would like to share some of the common misconceptions about private adoption.
1. Reunification is the goal of foster care, and private adoption is less risky for my heart than adopting through foster care.
Any time that someone is caring for another person’s child, there is always going to be a risk that the child may return to the home of their biological family. Through foster care, the priority is to rehabilitate families in order to reunify or find suitable relatives or extended family to care for children so that the child’s relationships, culture, and heritage remains intact life-long. When adopting privately, there are no guarantees that a matched child will not leave a family’s home. There are legal time frames during which a birth parent is free to change their mind about an adoption plan. Additionally, it is common for a birth mother to arrange an adoption plan on her own, and attempts to locate the biological father will be made either to terminate his rights or establish paternity. Whether the biological father is known or unknown at the time that the adoption plan is being made, he also has rights to his child and can contest the adoption and seek custody.
2. There will not be any visits with birth family members if I adopt privately, and a closed adoption is best for our family.
While some placing parents may make an adoption plan for their child that does not involve ongoing post-adoption contact, the vast majority of placing parents desire an ongoing relationship with their child and the adoptive parents. The type and frequency of post-adoption contact varies based on the placing parent’s wishes. Ongoing contact between an adoptee and their biological family can be a healthy means for the adoptee to develop a stronger sense of identity, and it also may help reduce grief and loss for the adoptee as they navigate their life. For these same reasons, adoption experts recommend a child knowing about their adoption from an early age. Post-adoption contact can range from periodic letters or emails and exchanging photographs to regular in-person family gatherings.
3. A child matched with me for private adoption will be less likely to have been exposed to drugs or alcohol in utero.
Parents who are making the decision to make an adoption plan for their child do so for a variety of reasons. Some expectant mothers may be using or abusing drugs and/or alcohol during their pregnancy and are desiring to choose an adoptive family for their child versus their child being removed from their care and placed into protective custody of a child protective services agency.
4. Only couples can adopt, and they have to be rich.
In the United States, there are no specifications or regulations that a child must be adopted by a two-parent family. Many single-parent families routinely adopt, both through foster care and privately. There is no income standard required for adoption; however, adoption agencies will assess a prospective adoptive family’s ability to meet their current expenses and any additional expenses that will be incurred once their family grows. In general, it is estimated that a private adoption can cost anywhere from approximately $10,000 to $70,000.
5. Birth mothers “give up” their baby because they do not love them.
Adoption plans are made for a variety of reasons; however, not loving their child would be the rarest reason. Making an adoption plan is a very difficult decision for most placing parents, and can lead to a lifetime of feelings of grief and loss. The majority of parents who make an adoption plan do so because they believe it is in the best interest of their child’s future, and this is done with an abundance of love and thought. Some common reasons that may lead parents to choose to make an adoption plan for their child include: concerns for financial resources, lack of stable housing, unexpected pregnancy, and other reasons that could have otherwise led a child to be removed from their care by a child protective services agency (substance abuse, mental health concerns, loss of custody of a previous child.)
Contributors: Janina Miller, Joy Sampson, Erin Burke, GraceAnn Wohlwend, Emily Kaiser, & Lanni Jackson