November is National Adoption Month
November is Adoption Awareness Month. You may be surprised to learn that although no more than 2% of Americans are adopted, over 1/3 of Americans have considered adopting a child. Whether you’ve thought about adopting a child, have been personally affected by adoption or are simply interested in the topic, November is the perfect time to learn more.
Common Misconceptions About Adoption
There are many misconceptions about what adoption is really like. Below, you’ll find a few common misunderstandings about the process.
Adopted children are not wanted by their birth parents.
The idea that when a parent places a child up for adoption they are giving up, or giving up on, their child is simply not true. Placing a child up for adoption is a show of unconditional love by the child’s birth parents. They want to provide a better life for their child than they are currently able to offer, and even though the decision is painful, they make the sacrifice to create a happy, healthy future for their child.
Adopted children shouldn’t be told they are adopted.
In an interview with CBS news, Adam Pertman, author of “American Adoption,” said, “My favorite story is of a social worker friend who was asked by a couple, whom she handed a brand-new baby, and they whispered to her, ‘When do we tell her she’s adopted?’ Why are they whispering in front of a five-day-old baby is another question. My friend says to them, ‘On the way out.’ And that is the right answer. We keep secrets of things we are ashamed of and embarrassed about. We should never be ashamed of our children or our families.”
In the 1970s, most parents didn’t tell their adopted child about their family history. However, some research has shown that after a certain age, finding this information can have an adverse impact on a person’s mental health. A study conducted in 2019 found those in the earliest age group of adoption discovery, birth to 2 years of age, reported both the least distress and the highest level of life satisfaction.
If you’re unsure of when or whether to tell your adopted child they are adopted, speaking with an adoption counselor can help. Contact One Hope United for more information.
Infants are the largest group of children waiting to be adopted.
The average age of a child waiting to be adopted is 7.7 years old, and 29% of them will spend at least three years in foster care. In certain states, including Illinois, adoptive parents must first become licensed as foster care parents, and foster a child for at least 6 months before adopting them. While there are many infants in need of loving homes, older children in foster care are in the same position.
When parents adopt a youth in care through a One Hope United program, they work closely with a Case Manager to ensure all needs of the child in care are met prior to adoption completion. Parents who adopt through an OHU program report finding fulfillment from growing their families and providing unconditional love, safety and security. A parent who adopted through a One Hope United program in our Florida region shared this quote:
“We met our son at a One Hope United teen match event, and there was an almost instant bond. We decided to adopt him. Not every day was easy at first, but we were able to build a loving home based on mutual respect and empathy. Now, he’s getting ready for his senior year at the University of Miami. We’re so proud of all he has accomplished.”
Benefits of Adoption
“I would say being an adoptive father has made me a more empathetic and thoughtful person. I raised a beautiful young woman, and as a result, I am a more insightful, understanding, and well-rounded.” – Jim Webster, Data Analyst, One Hope United
Adoption benefits families just as much as adopted children. Adoption allows thousands of loving couples to become parents each year. And children who gain a sibling through adoption add a loving family member to grow and learn with throughout their lives.
And, of course, children who are adopted benefit from finding their forever home. Dittrich also shared, “Most children that find their forever home blossom into thriving young adults and can demonstrate that love to their children, thus creating a beautiful cycle of acceptance, understanding and love.” In fact, a report titled Adoption USA found that 85 percent of children who are adopted are in excellent or very good health, and that adopted children were less likely to live in households below the poverty threshold.
How to Celebrate National Adoption Month
Re-telling your child’s adoption story to them and reflecting on favorite family memories are two great ways to celebrate National Adoption Month. You can also spread awareness through social media, find community events in your area, and educate friends and family members about adoption. If you are interested in adopting, contact One Hope United. You can also learn more about adopting through a One Hope United program here.