When a new friend or acquaintance learns my family was built by adoption, I receive a myriad of responses. Often these individuals are trying to be complimentary of our decision to adopt, or they are feeling out what adoption or fostering is truly like. Here are some typical comments we receive and what I’d like you to really know about adoption:
“I’d love to adopt a little brown baby! They are all SO cute!”
All children deserve a forever family, regardless of their race or skin tone. Furthermore, a brown-skinned child isn’t an accessory to be admired or toted around. Remember that there are children of all colors surrounding us, and we shouldn’t set any particular race of children above another.
“It’d be so nice to avoid stretch marks, weight gain, and giving birth!”
Some choose to adopt due to infertility, and the attempts to get pregnant are grueling: physically and emotionally. Please do not minimize the pregnancy experience to a few physical changes. There are many who would love to have the experience, stretch marks and all! Additionally, pregnancy and adoption are each challenging for different reasons. Adoption is not necessarily the easy way to go about adding to one’s family.
“There are SO many kids who need good homes!”
It is true that there are many children who are waiting for a forever family, including over 100,000 children who are free for adoption in the domestic foster care system. However, we cannot assume that all kids who are placed for adoption came from neglectful, abusive (aka “bad”) homes or dire circumstances. Every situation is different.
“I’ve always wanted to foster, but all those kids have problems.”
It is true that children in the foster care system were removed from their biological families for some reason, often due to abuse or neglect. However, with the proper parenting and resources, some children can live productive, healthy, happy lives, whether they return to their biological families, stay with their foster families, or are eventually adopted. Let’s not label an entire group of children as problematic.
“Adoption is too expensive. It’s only for rich people.”
People will all different income levels choose to adopt. Foster care adoption is typically free. There are grants available for qualified individuals who adopt domestically and internationally. Some employers offer adoption assistance, often paid to the employee upon the child’s finalization. And there’s the adoption tax credit which can also help with some of the costs.
“You have your own rainbow of kids, just like Brad and Angelina!”
Oh, the celebrity comments! Yes, there are many prominent individuals who have adopted children; however, most adoptive families are everyday people. Furthermore, most do not attempt to specifically adopt a “rainbow of kids.” Many adoptive and foster families are simply open to children, regardless of the children’s races.
“I have considered adopting, but I’m afraid the birth parents would try to take the child back.”
Past stories, such as those of Baby Jessica and Baby Richard, and more contemporary stories, such as Baby Veronica, tend to capture national attention. The stories that aren’t shared are the thousands of adoptions where disruptions do not happen and the process is completely legal. Biological parents do have rights, and these rights vary from state to state. Ethical adoption professionals work hard to make sure that all triad members’ rights are clearly conveyed and exercised. Sensationalized stories are not the norm.