Friday, January 14, 2011

Adoption Myths Revealed

I am constantly perplexed by the things people say when it comes to adoption. Some things are honest and insightful. Other things are honest and...well...not smart. Thankfully a lot of people do ask me their questions about adoption and I am always eager to impart upon them every bit of adoption wisdom I have.

So I thought I would share with you a few of the myths circulating about adoption and clear the air for you.

  • You can't love an adoptive child like you love biological children.
Well, now, this is the silliest thing I have ever heard. Seriously? A child is a child is a child. It doesn't matter who's blood runs through them or who birthed them. As the mother of both a biological child and an adoptive child, I will tell you right now that I love them both completely and wholly and I could never love one more than the other.
Now, I will tell you it took some time to get to the loving point with Mac. We had a lot of struggles to begin with both on my part and on his. However, though those struggles I had to CHOOSE to love him on a daily basis for a while. I loved him, but it wasn't the lay-down-my-life love I wanted it to be. It was love because I had to love him. But because I made that choice to consciously love my child it grew and grew and I can now tell you that I would gladly lay down my life for him AND Sarah Bradley.
My love for them, however, does differ in HOW I love them. I don't think it's an adoption-related thing though. They are two different children with two very different needs and I have to love them according to their personality. Mac is my cuddler - I cuddle with him, I kiss him and I play trucks with him. That's how to love him. Much like his father, I would say his "love language" is touch and much like me he needs "quality time." Sarah Bradley, however, much prefers to be parallel to you - beside you, not on you. She likes to just be in the room with you, but doesn't necessarily require the interaction. Her love languages are "gifts" and "time." Now - SB's languages are the same as mine, so I relate very well to her.
But - all that to say that while my love for my children reflects them individually, I love them the same regardless of who is adopted and who is not.

  • I can't afford another child.
Well, this is a myth that I'm currently arguing in my head. We would love more children, but the cost defies my logic!
In terms of affording an adoption - DSS adoptions are FREE. It will cost about $1500 for an attorney, court fees, etc. But listen - the state refunds $1500 and in our case, the state sent a check directly to our attorney (thank God!). Private adoptions do cost at least $15k, but with a few strategic fundraisers, grants and donations, it's completely do-able. I know one family who raised almost $2k in a yard sale they advertised as an adoption fundraiser and had a picture of their child at the sale - people were willing to pay twice the asking price for items to help them out. They even said people who didn't put anything would just give them $5 or $10 toward their adoption. People are nice and want to help!
As far as affording the child in day-to-day living...right now we're all on tight purse strings. We cook at home a whole lot more than I would personally like (that darn dish fairy still hasn't shown up), but it's cheaper. I budget $80/week for groceries (including pull-ups, dog food, and cleaning supplies). If we eat out, we still only order one meal for the kids to share or have Mac eat off mine (since SB usually wants something Mac can't eat). I shop thrift and consignment stores, too. I can buy my kids Hilfiger clothes for $5 and WalMart clothes for $2. I would do this regardless because I'm cheap, but the extra child does not break the bank in terms of clothing. It's really not that much more expensive - especially if you already have children and especially if you can budget!

  • All adopted children have special needs.
Okay, this one might be true to an extent. It depends on your definition of special needs. In terms of adoption - non-white children are considered special needs. Asthma and allergies are considered special needs. Mac has allergies and we're pretty sure he's ADHD. But he's not a non-functioning child and I love him anyway (see above!).
Yes, some children are born addicted to drugs. Some have FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder). Others have physical limitations and physical and mental delays. If you are willing and able to adopt a child with such needs - amen to you! There are many of those children who need families. If not, that's okay... you get to tell the agency what you are and are not willing to accept in terms of your child's needs.
For us - we said we would take mild to moderate known "special needs." And physical handicaps that could be corrected with surgery, therapy and time (things like cleft lip/palate and delays in crawling/walking/talking etc). Anything that popped up once the child was home was fine - like Mac's allergies. For DSS we filled out a questionnaire with at least 80 different things that we were willing or not willing to accept.
On our "NO" list was abusive to animals, fire-starters, downs syndrome and children who were sexually suggestive. All things that would have been a danger to us or to SB or could cause SB to have more responsibilities than she would need (like DS - there are, however, many families willing to take children with DS and I admire that!).
Our "YES" list included children who were the product of rape or incest, correctable/mild physical handicaps, speech delays and the like.

Well, those are three myths revealed. I feel like this is long enough right now, so I'll quit while I'm ahead. Do you have any questions about adoption? I am always willing to field questions. You can email me or leave a comment. I'll reveal the truth on more myths down the road!

1 comment:

Molly said...

We haven't adopted (yet! I'm hoping hubby is "there" again someday. :) ) but we were early in the process to adopt when our first daughter was born and we constantly hear, "That's how it happens with infertility, you just decide to adopt or adopt and then you get pregnant!" Sort of a combination adoption/infertility myth I guess... we're always careful to point out that no, we're actually the exception to the rule. MOST couple struggling with infertility do NOT suddenly get pregnant upon adopting.


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