Adoption is a gift.
However, there’s a lot of misinformation. And misinformation—even when the person sharing it is genuinely motivated—can be harmful to children in need of families. How many couples are hesitant or unwilling to adopt simply because of “something they’ve heard”?
Here are 5 common (but dangerous) myths about adoption—
Myth #1: Most adoptees are irreparably damaged.
Adopted is not synonymous with damaged.
Children do experience trauma and hurt due to broken and bad relationships, absolutely. But these children can also find healing through loving, safe families. We can simultaneously accept that trauma is real and present while also believing wholeheartedly that God can bring beauty from ashes.
It’s important to understand that adopted children—as well as children from foster care—are not in the situation because of their behavior. They are worthy of love and hope.
God doesn’t make throw-away people, and even truly damaged children (due to painful experiences) are not outside the reaches of His care and healing.
Myth #2: Adopting an infant instead of an older child is selfish.
People have strong opinions about who needs to be adopted most—older children (vs. younger), children from foster care (vs. private agency), domestic children (vs. international).
But the truth is, every child needs and deserves the love of a family.
It is a wonderful and powerful decision to adopt an older child, especially since nearly half of all children who are adopted out of foster care are under age one. Many older children desperately need the love of family. But God uniquely calls and equips families to adopt specific children, and no child is more or less deserving of a family.
Myth #3: Adopted children are stolen from their birth families.
Forcing adoption is horrific, illegal, and inexcusable.
Here in the U.S., great lengths are taken to ensure a birth mother knows her rights and has been given every opportunity to keep and raise her child. Internationally, the Hague Adoption Convention exists to do the same. (The Hague Convention took effect in 1995 and exists to provide safeguards that ensure inter-country adoption is done legally and is in the best interests of every child.)
Believing all adopted children are stolen actually disrespects birth mothers who have lovingly and self-sacrifically made an adoption plan.
Myth #4: Adopting a child would be unfair to my bio kids.
While each family is unique, and every adoption requires some adjustment, research shows that adopted and biological children in the same family typically do well, assuming parents contribute in a positive way (avoiding favoritism, demonstrating acceptance, etc.). Children often succeed at navigating complex relationships as long as they know without a doubt that they are loved. Unless they are taught otherwise, children aren’t constrained by the conflicts or controversies surrounding adoption.
What’s most unfair to bio kids is to miss out on what God has planned because of our fears or insecurities as parents.
The greatest thing we can do for our children is love Jesus … and then love others by extension.
Myth #5. Adoption agencies want perfect families.
If adoption agencies worked with perfect families, no adoption agency would exist because perfect families don’t exist.
Agencies aren’t looking for perfect families; they’re looking for willing families—willing to love and nurture children in need. Home studies and social worker visits exist to establish stability and safety for the child coming home.
Believe it or not, adoption agencies want families to be successfully matched with children for adoption. Most agencies will walk—hand in hand—over the long haul to make it happen.
When it comes to adoption, there are many unknowns … which can easily and understandably lead to misinformation and myths. But just as Jesus called Peter to step out of the boat in Matthew 14, so God calls us to step out in faith and trust that He is leading.
When it comes to adoption, the advice for us is the same as it was for Peter:
Keep looking to Jesus.