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People Have So Many Misconceptions About Adoption—Here’s My Story

I’m adopted. Think about it, do you know anybody who’s adopted? One, two… maybe nobody? It’s not super common, and in my opinion, that makes it even more fascinating. And for many people, the lack of presence can cause a lack of knowledge, which isn’t necessarily bad! People are always very curious about my experience with adoption, and ask tons of questions. I appreciate being able to teach others and help them understand via my own experiences. Small disclaimer: This article is going to delve into some very basic topics that are factually based, but some of the content will revolve around my story. Everyone’s adoption story or situation is not the same, so some people’s experiences will differ from mine.

Misconception #1: “Real Parents” 

I’ve encountered the term, “real” parents, time and time again, so let’s clear this up. Adopted kids have two sets of parents–their biological parents and their adoptive parents. Neither set is more real than the other, and they both played or play a very important role in the child’s life, even if the child has never met their biological parents. The terminology is pretty important here because often times, the adopted child or their adoptive parents will be sensitive to the difference in phrasing, so be careful! I personally don’t mind when people slip up because I know it’s not meant to be hurtful, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Misconception #2: Most/all adoptions are from China.

Okay, so this misconception has some nuances to it. It’s true that a lot of kids are adopted from China, but this isn’t always the case. There are two types of adoption in regards to the U.S: in-country and out-of-country. A lot of people choose to adopt outside of the U.S., which often results in adoptions from China due to the number of girls put up for adoption there. However, my parents chose to do an in-country adoption, so geographically, I was born in the U.S. It all depends on the adoptive parents and what path they want to take.

Misconception #3: Adoptive parents get to choose their child.

This is not generally the case. Adoption agencies and/or social workers will determine if the adoptive parents are eligible for a child based on home life, income, location, etc. and then they will place a child with them. According to my parents and their experience, they were not allowed to show a preference of gender or they would not have been chosen to be potential adopters. The adoptive parents are called after a child is chosen for them, and then they are united with their new family member!

Misconception #4: Adopted children were given up by their biological parents.

This one is tricky because although it may not be true, many adopted children feel as if their biological parents left them, didn’t want them, or they weren’t good enough. In some cases, it may be the case, but I can only draw on my own experiences to respond to this misconception. I’ve always viewed my adoption in a positive light; my biological parents couldn’t take care of me and cared enough to go through the process (a long, extensive one at that) of finding an adoptive family for me so that I could have a good life. Although I may have experienced those frustrations when I was younger, as I learned more about my story, I came to terms with it and became optimistic based on my knowledge of the circumstances. However, I know this is not the same for everyone, so this misconception is very subjective.

Misconception #5: There’s only one adoption method.

Okay, so this isn’t actually a misconception that I’ve encountered, but after talking to several people I realized that not many people were aware of the two different types of adoption; open and closed. Closed adoption (the method my parents used) means that the adopted child and family have limited to no contact with the biological parents before and after the birth, and the adoptive parents receive very limited information besides health records. Open adoption is when the adoptive family maintains contact with the biological parents, possibly including calls and visits, or the adoptive parents being present for the birth. Here’s a really good description of both types of plans from the organization my parents used to adopt me, Adoptions with Love.

Hopefully, I was able to clear some things up, and that all you readers learned some new things about adoption! But, remember that even with this information going forward, it’s always important to be sensitive to others and respectful. Always ask before jumping into a discussion about adoption, and keep checking to make sure the other person is comfortable throughout.

Don’t be shy, ask questions, be curious, and be kind. 


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