8 Stigmas Surrounding Adoption And Why They Are Not True

The realities tend to be different than the stigmas associated with adoption.

Chelse Schults January 06, 2017

When you start looking into adoption, you are faced with a ton of information. Some is good, some is bad, and some is new. One of the first things you will start to notice are the stigmas surrounding adoption. You will also get the privilege of working through your own adoption stigmas. Here are eight common adoption stigmas that I have encountered. With the realities.

Stigma: 'Real' 'real parents' 'real siblings' 'real family' Real = Biological.
1. Stigma: 'Real' 'real parents' 'real siblings' 'real family' Real = Biological.

Reality: The moment you start your adoption journey, you will, I promise, get a crash course in adoption language. You will experience first-hand how uninformed people are in the words they use. I think every family that is created by any means other than biology will encounter the "real effect."

Real is not a synonym for biological. When I have been questioned on the realness of my family, I like to think about who is the fake family. I would love to meet my child's fake parents. Love, commitment, and loyalty make a family. Has anyone ever been like, "Man I love that my sister's biology showed up to my football practice."

Families that do not share biology are real. They are real.

Stigma: Women give away their children.
2. Stigma: Women give away their children.

Reality: In my experience, this is almost always followed up by, "He's so cute." Women and couples who make adoption plans for their children do NOT give them up. They are taking on the hardest role a parent can take. Not being the parent. Choosing to place a child in the arms of another to love and care for forever is a parenting choice. Choosing to be a birth parent is not an easy road. Birth parents break their own hearts to give their children something they cannot.

Stigma: Open adoption is bad for the child.
3. Stigma: Open adoption is bad for the child.

Reality: Open adoption is a type of adoption in which birth and adoptive families have some form of initial and/or ongoing contact. After placement, birth mothers and/or fathers and members of their extended families may interact in various ways with the adoptive parents, as well as with the child. Interacting is not co-parenting. It's not trying to be the parent.

In our situation, I would compare our interaction as similar to how you are with your adult cousins or aunts/uncles. We enjoy their company and we keep each other informed on the big stuff. They don't try to parent our child, we keep them in the loop because we love them.

Open adoption is a relationship built on trust. It's built on mutual love for a child. These roles aren't really defined in society. In open adoption, there are more people to love your child. It means that an adoptee won't have to search for their biological relatives. An adoptee has an opportunity to see people who look like them. I don't see how that can be bad.

Stigma: Adoption is easy. All you have to do is just adopt.
4. Stigma: Adoption is easy. All you have to do is just adopt.

Reality: People who conceive easily have a notion that when a couple cannot conceive, they should just adopt. Just adopting doesn't exist. First of all, if you cannot conceive, you can still have children. I am proof. I cannot conceive. I have a child.

Second, mourning biological children is essential in overcoming and living with infertility. People I encounter seem to assume you love your adopted child just like your own. In reality, my child who was adopted is my own. I fought very hard to create a life that my children will thrive in. Part of that is understanding that I didn't just adopt them. I prayed, wished, and bargained with God to allow me to be their mother. I watched another woman break herself apart to allow me this privilege and to give her child a life she could not. There is no simplicity in that.

Building your family through adoption means looking at life and deciding what is important to you. Completing a home study isn't easy. Deciding what situations you can parent is exhausting. Accepting that your family will look different is a challenge. My husband, Chris, and I have had to remove people from our lives because they see our family differently than bio families. Together, we have stretched, grown and continue to do so because adoption is a part of us. It is a part of our identity now. We didn't just adopt.

Stigma: Adoption is expensive.
5. Stigma: Adoption is expensive.

Reality: Adoption can be expensive. The key word is can. Adopting from the foster care system is not expensive. It is, in fact, not costly at all. Building your family through adoption will cost some money. Fertility treatments also cost money.

Stigma: Adoption is second best.
6. Stigma: Adoption is second best.

Reality: The stigma that only infertile couples adopt is false. The stigma that no one really wants to build their family through adoption is also false. Just like anything else in life, we go about building our families in what seems to us as the easiest, most effective way possible. For most, that means biological children. It takes time to gain information about your fertility. Infertility is a surprise to most people so when couples have all the information, they can then make the choice to build their family through adoption or not.

There is adoption in my family. I grew up knowing that adoption was a way to build a family. I actually didn't know that everyone thinks infertility is the only reason to adopt until I was faced with infertility and at an adoption information meeting. So for me, adoption was always an option. It took finding out our entire fertility picture to pursue it.

Stigma: Women experiencing unplanned pregnancy do not love the child they are carrying, therefore they are not keeping up with prenatal care.
7. Stigma: Women experiencing unplanned pregnancy do not love the child they are carrying, therefore they are not keeping up with prenatal care.

Reality: I got this question a lot when we were announcing our plans to adopt. Everyone wants a healthy baby. Everyone. A mother considering an adoption plan, will be doing all she can to give birth to a healthy baby. If she doesn't, and she decides to parent, then it will be her who is caring for the baby. Making an adoption plan is an example of caring for her unborn baby. Sometimes, in an unplanned pregnancy, the woman may not know she is pregnant. After she knows she is pregnant I think it's a safe assumption that she is doing all she can to care for her child.

Stigma: Rich, white, straight, married couples adopt.
9. Stigma: Rich, white, straight, married couples adopt.

Reality: You do not need to be rich to build your family through adoption. See slide five. People who are not white adopt. Check out all of the families ready to adopt here on adoption.com. Or Al Rocker and his first wife. If you are gay you can adopt! Again, check out families ready to adopt here. You do not have to be married. You can build a family as a single person. To build your family through adoption, you have to have the desire to give a child unconditional love forever. Along with providing a safe stable environment, but you get my drift.

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Chelse Schults

Chelse is passionate about empowering herself and other women to live their best life. She does this with her fashion marketing company built with her husband. Fitness goals, running marathons, and circuit training at 4:30am support her love of coffee. Keep up with her on Adopt Mom Style where she shares her stylish adventures about motherhood via adoption and foster care.


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