Adoption: Myths & Facts

MYTH: Adoptive parents must be a "cookie-cutter American family."

  • FACT: Prospective adoptive parents do not have to be rich, married, own a home, or be of a certain race, religion, sexual orientation or age to become an adoptive parent. (One-third of adoptions from foster care are by single parents.) Patience, a good sense of humor, a love of children, and the commitment to be a good parent are the most important characteristics.

MYTH: All children in foster care have some kind of physical, mental or emotional handicap & are classified as "special needs."

  • FACT: The term "special needs" is somewhat misleading, because it may simply mean that the child is older, a minority, or requires placement with his or her siblings. While some children are dealing with physical or emotional concerns, just like other children, they need the nurturing and support that a permanent family can provide. Foster and adoptive children are in the "system" because their birth parents weren't protective and nurturing caretakers - not because the children did anything wrong.

MYTH: All the children available for adoption through the Department of Children & Families have disabilities.

  • FACT: Some foster children looking for permanent homes have physical and/or mental disabilities. Many, however, have no health problems or disabilities whatsoever. Most Children with disabilities reach their fullest potential in loving, permanent homes.

MYTH: Children adopted from foster care have too much "baggage."

  • FACT: Children placed in foster care - like any children - have enormous potential to thrive, given love, patience, and a stable and nurturing environment.

MYTH: Families don't receive support after adoption is finalized.

  • FACT: Financial assistance does not end with the child's placement or adoption. The vast majority of children adopted from foster care are eligible for federal and/or state subsidies that help offset both short and long-term costs associated with post-adoption adjustments. Such benefits, which vary by state, commonly include monthly cash subsidies, medical assistance and social services.

MYTH: It is expensive to adopt.

  • FACT: While it is true that some parents pay thousands of dollars to arrange a private adoption, adopting a child who has been placed in foster care is not expensive. There is often very minimal if no costs associated with adoption through the state.

MYTH: It takes a long time to adopt.

  • FACT: The first step in the process is attending Adoption Informational Night and then moving onward with the Adoption 101 Classes, which average 9 weeks in length. Once the family completes the classes, then they will obtain an adoption home study. The time it takes to adopt from the time the family is approved vastly depends from family to family. Heartland for Children believes in finding forever families for children and not finding children for families. Once a family is matched, the process from there often is approximately 6 months until the adoption is finalized, which at least 3 months of which the child is living in the home. The matching process is an intricate process due to the complexity and seriousness of adoption as it is a forever commitment for the child and the family. Our greatest need is for families to adopt children ages 10 and older, large sibling groups, and/or children with special emotional, physical, or developmental needs. Thus, more often families open and able to parent and adopt these children will likely experience a quicker process.

MYTH: There are not enough loving families available who want to adopt a child placed in foster care.

  • FACT: Many prospective adoptive parents may initially want to adopt an infant, often because they are unaware that there are older children who also need families. When they learn about an older child available for adoption, they often "fall in love" and realize the enormous impact they can have on that child's life. Older children can share their feelings about joining a new family, helping to make the adoption and transition process successful. Four in 10 American adults have considered adoption, according to a National Adoption Attitudes Survey funded by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption; that translates into 81.5 million Americans! If only one out of 500 Americans adopted out of the foster care system, these children would all have homes.

MYTH: There's too much red tape & bureaucracy involved in adopting a child from foster care.

  • FACT: Congress has streamlined the foster care adoption process through enactment of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997. This law ensures that children in foster care, who cannot be reunited with their birth parents, are released for adoption and placed with permanent families as quickly as possible.

MYTH: You have to be young or financially well-off to adopt.

  • FACT: Many of our most successful adoptive parents are older or have modest incomes. Age is not an automatic disqualification, and in fact, older parents may be a better match for an older child or teenager. Children need loving homes, not necessarily wealthy ones.