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Have you ever considered adoption? Your first response might be no. Perhaps you already have kids, perhaps the idea has never crossed your mind, and one of the most common reasons, perhaps you think adoption is primarily for people facing infertility. In today’s post I want to break some myths, present some stats, and let you know why adoption might be something you could consider!
- As of September 2015, there are more than 427,910 children in foster care in the US (National Foster Youth Institute).
- More than 100,000 of those children are waiting for adoption
- Roughly only half of these children will find adoptive homes.
- 20% of foster kids who age out of foster care will instantly become homeless.
- Only 1 out of every 2 children who age out will find employment by age 24.
- 7/10 girls who age out will become pregnant by age 21.
- 25% who age out will suffer from PTSD.
- 1 out of every 2 kids who age out will develop a substance addiction.
- In Canada there are more than 70,000 children in foster care.
- More than 30,000 of them are waiting for adoption.
- Only 32% who age out of foster care will graduate high school compared to 84% of the general population.
- Kids aging out of care have a 6,5% higher rate of premature loss of life.
- Many kids aging out of foster care end up homeless, sexually exploited, involved in criminal activity or struggling with addiction.
- There are more than 17,900,000 orphans worldwide whom have lost both parents (National Foster Youth Institute).
- Thousands of children are available for adoption in multiple countries.
- Many children living in orphanages overseas spend their days tied to their cribs often leading to death before they turn 18, malnourished and lacking love and stimulation.
- Children aging out of orphanages have a much higher rate of suicide, addiction, homelessness and becoming trafficked.
Given the current statistics of children living both locally in foster care and internationally in orphanages, it is very clear that there is an urgent crisis for more adoptive parents (It is important to note that these statistics do not reflect children where reunification with birth families is possible, and is not the discussion of this post).
This is why, today more than ever, there is a need for more adoptive parents. While many people turn to adoption once they face infertility (which is amazing) there is a need for more people to consider it. When enough people come together to provide loving families for children waiting, it IS possible to end the wait for children. Colorado, for example, has successfully eliminated children in foster care waiting for families and instead now has a waiting list of parents! How amazing!
There are a lot of myths floating around concerning the concept of adoption, so let’s break a few of those down:
Adoption is only for those facing infertility.
Anyone can adopt. You can adopt if you have no children. You can adopt if you have 10 children. You can adopt if you already have biological children, or if you already have adopted children. While some countries or programs have rules on how many children you can have, many countries or local foster care offices place no restrictions.
You have to own your own home to adopt.
Thankfully, you do not need to own your own home to adopt. You can rent, own, lease, you name it! You can live in a house, condo, townhouse and more! The main restriction with homes in adoption is having a separate room with a window, and even then, in some instances children can share a bedroom.
You have to have a lot of money to adopt.
I suggest having as much money as you would if you were planning to give birth to a child, namely enough to support them. Some kids through adoption require extra support services such as speech therapy, counseling or assessments, which do require consideration, but many kids require the same needs as any child. This becomes more of a factor if you are considering a child with special needs.
The adoption process can, however, be expensive. Adopting out of foster care is usually free, but adopting domestically or internationally can cost anywhere from $5000-$50,000 in the US and $15,000-$80,000 in Canada. Those numbers can seem daunting so don’t let them scare you away! There are many ways to raise money for an adoption including an adoption loan, home equity, savings, adoption grants, family members and fundraisers. I have seen people raise as much as $30,000 simply by having friends over for a dessert fundraiser and silent auction. This not only helps to raise the funds but provides an opportunity for those adopting to let their close friends and family know they are beginning the adoption journey and allow them to play a role in your journey.
You can’t love a child through adoption as much as a child you give birth to.
There isn’t much to say about this myth other than it is 100% untrue. Now, it IS possible that attaching to a child through adoption can take longer…but there are so many amazing resources out there to help parent and child attachment, and hard work can pay off! Many people attach to their children the second they first meet them, others can take up to 12 months or more, but there are various situations that affect this such as age, diagnoses they may have, if they lived in an orphanage, and how many times they moved homes growing up. The great thing is that you CAN love your child as much as any child through birth and not imagine loving someone any greater!
Adopting a child is just like parenting a child through birth
Now in my previous myth I explained that you love them the same as any child, but when it comes to parenting, that can look a bit different. Here is where there is a VAST ARRAY of difference depending on each individual child. A basic fact, however, is that your child has likely experienced some level of trauma. Even if you adopted them from birth, there is new research pointing to the effects of birth trauma when a child is removed from their birth parents. This simply means you might have to approach things a bit differently. You might be parenting with a much bigger extended family as you welcome in birth parents or siblings, and you might have to begin conversations with your child about racism or identity a lot sooner than another child. If you adopt a child with some level of special needs, such as FASD, ADHD, Autism, Institutional Autism, or RAD, then parenting becomes drastically different. There is too much to explain in this post but I encourage you to research many of these topics to become aware of what it may look like. FASD is very common in children in foster care and in Eastern Europe. You can find out more reading A Day In The Life of FASD (https://mylovelycrazylife.com/day-life-fasd/)
At the end of the day, children are children. Sometimes there are challenges, but more often there are moments of joy, love, and family togetherness. Adoption is such a beautiful thing and getting the opportunity to love on another child is amazing. It is important to also note that adoption is not for everyone. I do not believe love is all you need to adopt, and having knowledge and a passion to continually learn is important, but if you think it is something you can do then I highly recommend it. So many people I meet often say such things as “I will adopt when my children are older,” “I will adopt once I have my own children,” “I would adopt but I want my own children.” These can all be your own valid truths…but don’t be afraid to adopt in the midst of raising children and having the benefit of siblings. Don’t be afraid to adopt, then give birth. Don’t be afraid to adopt when your children are young. But do adopt when it is right for you and your family. My husband and I first adopted when he was 19 and I was 20 years old, before we considered having biological children, and have never looked back. Also, don’t be afraid to acknowledge if adoption is just not for you. There are so many other ways to still support families who are adopting, so research ways to support others in your local area! So many adoptive families would benefit from a meal, some childcare, help around the house, or even a bouquet of flowers with a note saying “You’re doing a great job!” But please, consider this today so we can eliminate children waiting for families and those who grow up having never found their forever home.
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