AdoptUSKids For Families

Common Myths About Adoption

 
  1. There are no orphans in the United States.
     
  2. It's easier and faster to adopt internationally than from U.S. foster care.
     
  3. You have to have a lot of money and own a house to adopt from foster care.
     
  4. You can only adopt a child who is the same race and ethnicity as you.
     
  5. All children in foster care have special needs and require special education.
     
  6. You're not allowed to adopt children you foster.
     
  7. You can't adopt a neighbor's child or one you know personally or professionally.
     
  8. If you're the relative of a child in foster care, they won't place them with you because the apple doesn't fall far from the tree in the State's eyes.
     
  9. Only married couples with a stay-at-home parent can adopt children from foster care.
     
  10. Each child has to have a room of their own.
     
  11. You can't adopt if you're in the military.
     
  12. You have to be of child-bearing age to adopt.
     
  13. Adopting or fostering a child who's been removed from the care of their birth parents is dangerous.
     
  14. Sibling relationships don't matter.
     
  15. You can't adopt a child or sibling group from another State.
     
  16. You have to be perfect to adopt a child from foster care.
     
  17. A birth parent or another relative can take an adopted child back.
     
 

Myth: There are no orphans in the United States.

 

Reality:  There are 102,000 children in the U.S. foster care who are legally free and currently waiting for an adoptive home. Meet the children

 

Myth: It's easier and faster to adopt
internationally than from U.S. foster care.

 

Reality: In 2011, there were 51,000 children adopted through U.S. foster care while only 9,320 children were adopted by U.S. citizens from all international sources combined.

New regulations governing international adoptions have made adoption from other countries more challenging for U.S. citizens. These regulations, which can be found on the U.S. Department of State’s Intercountry Adoption website, are aimed at protecting the rights of children and birth parents, coupled with more aggressive efforts to locate adoptive resources inside of countries that have traditionally permitted their children to be sent abroad.

In most cases, it takes roughly a year to adopt a child from the U.S. foster care system. The average time it took to complete an international adoption in 2011 from Hague Convention countries ranged from 79 days to almost two years.

In addition, most adoptions from U.S. foster care are free and any minimal costs associated with them are often reimbursable. For international adoptions from Hague Convention countries in 2010, service providers charged anywhere between nothing to $64,357, with half charging less than $26,559.

These statistics came from the U.S. Children’s Bureau’s Preliminary 2011 Trends in Foster Care Report (PDF – 677KB) and the U.S. Department of State’s 2011 Annual Report on Intercountry Adoptions (PDF – 874KB).

 

Myth: You have a to have a lot of money and
own a house to adopt from foster care.

 

Reality: You don’t need to own your own home, be wealthy, have children already, or be a stay-at-home parent to adopt. Most adoptions from U.S. foster care are free and any minimal costs associated with them are often reimbursable. In addition, there are many different types of post-adoption resources, such as medical assistance and financial adoption assistance, based on the special needs of a child to help support and sustain adoptions from the U.S. foster care system.

Find out more about who can foster and adopt.

 

Myth: You can only adopt a child who is
the same race and ethnicity as you.

 

Reality: Federal law prohibits the delay or denial of an adoptive placement based on the race or ethnicity of a child in U.S. foster care and the prospective parent or parents who are seeking to adopt them. The only exception to this law is the adoption of Native American children where special considerations apply.

The Child Welfare Information Gateway has a list of resources about information on transracial adoption and transcultural families.

 

Myth: All children in foster care have
special needs and require special education.

 

Reality: Many children in foster care are regular children who unfortunately had to be removed from their families due to abuse or neglect.

The term “special needs” simply refers to children who qualify for adoption assistance due to specific factors or conditions such as:

  • Being an older child
  • Having a particular racial or ethnic background
  • Being part of a sibling group needing to be placed together as one unit
  • Medical conditions
  • Physical, mental, or emotional handicaps
     
Watch Video: Children in Foster Care

A child with special needs should not be confused with a child who requires special education.  Following broad federal guidelines, each State defines its own parameters for which factors or conditions would qualify a child as having special needs.

Watch the video on the right and hear real children in foster care share their story. It’s a chapter from our film The Road to Adoption and Foster Care. You can also watch the entire film (Flash – 2:00 hr.).

 

Myth: You're not allowed to adopt
children you foster.

 

Reality: While slightly more than half of all children who enter foster care return to their birth families, there are still thousands of children who cannot return home. Of the 51,000 children in foster care adopted last year, 54 percent were adopted by their foster parents. Find out more about how to adopt.

These statistics came from the the most recent adoption and foster care statistics  from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families Adoption and Foster Care Analysis Reporting System.

 

Myth: You can't adopt a neighbor's child or
one you know personally or professionally.

 

Reality: When a child is removed from their home by a court order and is placed into U.S. foster care, and then later becomes available for adoption (meaning their birth parents’ rights have been legally terminated), a caseworker will often explore connections the child already has with supportive adults in their life as possible placements for adoption or foster care. This is known as case-file mining and is a proven best practice in finding temporary or permanent placements for children served by the U.S. foster care system. Find out more about how to adopt and how to foster.

 

Myth: If you're the relative of a child in
foster care, they won't place them with you
because the apple doesn't fall far from the tree
in the State's eyes.

 

Reality: By law, both maternal and paternal relatives of children in foster care are considered the preferred placement resources for children so long as they are able to demonstrate they can adequately provide for the child’s safety and well-being. Find out more about being matched with a child.

 

Myth: Only married couples with a stay-at-home parent can adopt children from foster care.

 

Reality: In most instances, a person’s marital status, age, income, or sexual orientation do not automatically disqualify them from eligibility to adopt. You don’t need to own your own home, have children already, be young, wealthy, or a stay-at-home parent.

In 2011, 32 percent of children adopted from foster care were matched with either a single-parent household or unmarried couple. This includes adoptions by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) families. Find out more about who can foster and adopt.

This statistic came from the most recent adoption and foster care statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families Adoption and Foster Care Analysis Reporting System.

 

Myth: Each child has to have a room of their own.

 

Reality: Each child needs a bed of their own, not a room of their own. In addition, children of the opposite sex may share a room if they are under an age specified by the State (usually around 6 years old). In some instances, however, there may be child-to-square-feet requirements or behavioral concerns that will prevent children from being able to share a room. Find out more about being an adoptive parent and being a foster parent.

 

Myth: You can't adopt if you're in the military.

 

Reality: Military families stationed overseas and within the U.S. are eligible to adopt children from the U.S. foster care system. Find out more about adoption resources for military families.

 

Myth: You have to be of
child-bearing age to adopt.

 

Reality: Experienced parents and empty-nesters are encouraged to adopt. In most instances, you’re eligible to adopt regardless of age, income, marital status, or sexual orientation. You don’t need to own your own home, be young, wealthy, or a stay-at-home parent. Find out more about who can foster and adopt.

 

Myth: Adopting or fostering a child who's been
removed from the care of their birth parents
is dangerous.

 
Watch Video: Children in Foster Care

Reality: Children in foster care are regular children who, through no fault of their own, had to be removed from their families due to abusive or neglectful situations. Watch the video on the right to hear from real children in foster care share their story. It’s a chapter from our film The Road to Adoption and Foster Care. You can also watch the entire film (Flash – 2:00 hr.).

As for a child in foster care having continued contact with their birth family, it will vary depending on the specifics of the case and the placement being considered for the child.

  • For adoptive placements, very few birth parents reappear after their parental rights have been legally terminated. In the instances where children have continued relationships with birth relatives, it’s because the arrangement will be beneficial, safe, and healthy for all involved. Find out more about receiving an adoptive placement.
     
  • For foster care placements, most children placed in your home will have regular, court-ordered visits with their birth parents. This is an important part of the reunification process and you play an important role by working with the child’s caseworker to decide the location and time of the visits. The court decides whether the visits will be supervised. Find out more about receiving a foster placement.

 

Myth: Sibling relationships don't matter.

 

Reality: Placing siblings together is almost always the best thing for them after being separated from their birth parents. It helps provide continuity and protects them from suffering additional loss. Currently 23 percent of children photolisted on AdoptUSKids are siblings who need to be placed together.

For more information, read our tip sheet prepared for child welfare professionals on the ten myths and realities of sibling adoption (PDF – 402KB).

 

Myth: You can't adopt a child or sibling group
from another State.

 

Reality: There are 102,000 children in U.S. foster care available for adoption. Families adopt children from outside their State every single month. Sometimes these adoptions can take a little longer because of the process involved with moving a child from one State to another. However, the wait is worth it in the end.

If you’re considering adopting outside your state, you may find it helpful to review the resources we’ve compiled for professionals about information on interstate compacts and resources for interjurisdictional placements.

 

Myth: You have to be perfect to adopt
a child from foster care.

 
Watch Video: The Hope of Being Adopted

Reality: You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent. There are thousands of children in foster care who would be happy to be part of your family. To a foster care child, waiting to be adopted can feel like waiting for a miracle. You could be that miracle. Watch the video the right to hear from children in their own words talk about the hope of being adopted. It’s a chapter from our film The Road to Adoption and Foster Care. You can also watch the entire film (Flash – 2:00 hr.).

Find out more about how to adopt and how to foster.

 

Myth: A birth parent or another relative
can take an adopted child back.

 

Reality: Adoptions of children from U.S. foster care are legally binding agreements that do not occur until the rights of all parents have been legally terminated by a court of law. It’s very rare that an adoption is challenged in court by a child’s birth relative. More than 98 percent of legally completed adoptions remain intact. Find out more about legalizing an adoption.

As for a child in foster care having continued contact with their birth family, it will vary depending on the specifics of the case and the placement being considered for the child.

  • For adoptive placements, very few birth parents reappear after their parental rights have been legally terminated. In the instances where children have continued relationships with birth relatives, it’s because the arrangement will be beneficial, safe, and healthy for all involved. Find out more about receiving an adoptive placement.
     
  • For foster care placements, most children placed in your home will have regular, court-ordered visits with their birth parents. This is an important part of the reunification process and you play an important role by working with the child’s caseworker to decide the location and time of the visits. The court decides whether the visits will be supervised. Find out more about receiving a foster placement.

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