As you go through the process of adopting a child, you will encounter a lot of misinformation and anti-adoption bias disguised as scientific fact. Popular notions about adoption can be hard to counter, because these myths have been so often repeated and seem to make good intuitive sense, but close examination of some popular myths reveals that the facts tell a different story. Here are 5 myths most people have heard:
1. Adopted Children Have More Psychological Problems
This myth derives from popular culture and early studies on small groups of adopted children. In recent years, large sociological studies with better control measures have been undertaken to see if adopted children really do have more problems. The findings reveal that, while there is a slightly higher risk of teenage suicide among adopted children, there are otherwise no more emotional or psychological problems in this group. Organizations like The Adoption Professionals are dedicated to supporting and helping families better understand the real emotional and psychological issues adopted children may face.
2. It is Better to Leave Children in their Country of Origin
While there is little research to support the claim that children are better off raised in their own culture, there is a lot of research to support the fact that children raised in orphanages and other institutions suffer from high rates of attachment disorder, mental illness, malnutrition, and a failure to thrive. The goal should be to reduce the number of children in institutional facilities, whether through domestic or international adoption.
3. Adopted Kids Have Lower IQs
This myth derives from the notion that parents who give their children up for adoption come from poor backgrounds and is predicated on a false equation between economic status and intelligence. Insofar as IQ tests have a cultural bias, children from higher social classes tend to score slightly higher. But the genetic component of intelligence is much stronger than the cultural component, so adopted children raised in upper income families will score high if they have the underlying genetic capability.
4. Attachment Disorder is a Hopeless Condition
Highly-publicized cases like the one in which frustrated parents attempted to return their child to Russia encourage the perception that attachment disorder is a frightening diagnosis that should dissuade prospective adoptive parents. In fact, many children who have been institutionalized or put in the foster care system suffer from mild attachment disorder due to early neglect. Being raised in a loving adoptive home by parents who understand the special nurturing requirements of these children will go far in helping them to make normal and healthy attachments later in life.
5. Adoptive Parents Must Be of Child-Bearing Age to Adopt
Adoptions through the foster care system do not use age as a main determining factor in who can adopt. The system is looking instead for either experienced parents or individuals who are stable and have the emotional stamina to raise a child. Older individuals can sometimes make ideal candidates, because they have the acquired wisdom and patience needed to raise a child who needs a second chance in life.
Adopting a child is a wonderful experience that blesses both the child who finds a family as well as the parents. Though you will hear many ideas that might discourage you from taking this journey, know that most of those negative factors are myths, these 5 being preeminent among them. Being armed with the real facts will allow you to move forward with confidence in your decision.