Adoption Options and 3 Myths You Should Know —
Adoption is not for everyone. In fact, fewer than 2% of unmarried women facing an unintended pregnancy choose to make an adoption plan. Contrary to popular opinion, most women who make an adoption plan are in their mid to late 20s or older.
Adoption is never an easy choice. But then, neither is abortion. And parenting can be a difficult choice as well. Especially when life is challenging and resources are scarce.
When making a decision about a pregnancy, a woman has those three choices:
We often talk about abortion and about parenting. Adoption can feel like the forgotten option.
It takes a lot of courage and strength to choose to make an adoption plan. Carrying a child for nine months and then placing him/her for adoption is hard. And there are considerations to be made regarding the father of the baby, who also has legal parental rights.
Fortunately, there are now many options for adoption. An adoption can be closed or open or semi-open. It can include correspondence, regular get togethers or no contact between the birth mom or dad and the child. Birth moms and dads may send birthday cards and gifts. They may communicate via email or Skype or meet in person. Or they may choose to live life separately and possibly reconnect down the road.
In a closed adoption, there is no contact or communication between the birth parents and the adoptive parents and child. Decades ago, nearly all adoptions were closed. But that has changed.
An open adoption involves contact, communication and/or information sharing. Biological and adoptive families share varying degrees of personal information. The type, directness and frequency of contact varies a lot. A semi-open adoption allows for interaction between the families. With a semi-open adoption, the interaction is usually facilitated by a third party such as an attorney or the adoption agency.
A study by the National Institutes of Health indicated that open adoptions “are more likely to result in positive relationships across birth and adoptive family members.”
Contact between adoptive and birth families is becoming more common across all types of adoption. Social media and new technologies are accelerating this interaction. More than 9 out of every 10 women who choose adoption request some form of contact with the adoptive parents.
There are many myths about adoption that are very pervasive in our society. Some of those are about the birth mother. If you’re pregnant, these myths could affect your decision or the thoughts of those around you.
Three myths about adoption and the facts you should know:
- Myth: The birth mother didn’t love her baby and is abandoning him or her.
- Fact: The truth is exactly the opposite. When a woman places her child for adoption, she is choosing what she believes is in the best interest of her child. Rather than “abandoning” an unloved child, she is recognizing her current situation. She wants a “better life” for her child than she can currently provide. It is a loving, brave and self-less choice.
- Fact: Further, 90 percent of adopted children ages 5 and older have positive feelings about their adoption. Most adopted children appreciate the selfless decision their birth parents made for them, and love them for it.
- Myth: Birth mothers will experience unresolved grief for the rest of their lives.
- Fact: Birth mothers are no more likely to suffer negative psychological consequences, such as depression, than are mothers who rear children as single parents.
- Fact: Birth mothers in the NIH study experienced less unresolved grief with open adoptions.
- Myth: Adopted children are not loved as much as biological children.
- Fact: An adopted child can be loved by both his/her adoptive parents and his birthmother or birth parents.
- Fact: Adoptive parents can love an adopted child as fully and selflessly as biological parents. They provide a loving, stable and nurturing environment. Many adoptive parents have longed for a child for a long time. Or they enjoy parenting so much that they want to grow their family through the miracle of adoption.
- Fact: Nearly 3 out of every 4 adopted children ages 0-5 are read to or sang to every day. Only half of non-adopted children receive this same attention from their parents.
- Fact: Most birth mothers welcome contact with their placed children. According to the NIH study, “80% of the birth mothers felt positively about being contacted. While 5% felt neutral, 15% felt ambivalent, and none felt negatively about a child-initiated search.”
If someone you know is facing an unintended pregnancy, she may or may not be considering adoption. If she talks about adoption, keep in mind the common myths and the facts about adoption. Be a supportive friend. And if she asks, share this information with her too.