A recent kerfuffle in the Chinese adoption world, wherein those who have adopted from China felt that all Chinese adopters were smeared with misconceptions, produced some commentary around the blogosphere and various lists.
Interestingly enough, there were plenty of misconceptions from people who have adopted from China about domestic adoption, and I feel compelled to address some of the myths.
A common thread amongst people who adopt internationally is how difficult it is to adopt from foster care/the state.
Did you know that in 2004, 59% of all U.S. adoptions were done via foster care? Yes, the children are older than many adoptive parents are looking for--the average age of children adopted from foster care in 1998 was 7 years old--but in the same year, 44% of the children adopted from foster care were between 1 and 5 years old. There are plenty of people in the blogosphere who have adopted via the foster care system, and they are just as happy with their families as we are with ours. It may not be for you, but it's definitely do-able.
Then there's the belief that private domestic adoption is wildly expensive, and that you must pay a specific potential birthmother's expenses.
Yes, it can be horribly expensive, but domestic adoption does not necessarily cost more than international adoption. Our local domestic adoption agency charges a sliding scale fee based on the potential adoptive parents' previous year's income. At the time we started our journey towards adoption, the cap on their fees was $11,000; when we looked last year, their cap was $14,000. This is an all-inclusive fee that covers one adoption; the fees are spread out across the potential birthparent group to cover medical fees, counseling, assistance of various sorts. There is no financial risk to potential adoptive parents: once they have signed the contract, the agency will find them a child to adopt. Now, granted, it may take a while; our local agency told us that the longest anyone had to wait with them was two years, which is about how long our adoption took from start to finish. Just as with international agencies, there are agencies that are more expensive and less so; potential adoptive parents should do their research. (And for the Kozmik All's sake, please be ultra-careful about adoption facilitators! They aren't necessarily regulated; some states have laws against them; and lots of times they're the most expensive path to adoption.)
Then there's the fear of birthparents revoking adoption consent days, months, or years after relinquishment.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not common for birthparents to revoke their relinquishment (Solangel Maldonado, one of the panelists on Paula Zahn's first show, cites a figure of less than 1%; Christine Adamec, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Adoption, got figures of .4%, 1.4%, .5%, and 2%). What is more common is for potential birthparents to change their minds before relinquishing. Of course, in either case, it's wrenching for the potential adoptive parents, and is definitely a fear cited by people who adopt internationally (including yours truly and many of the others in the "Why China" discussion). But it's not a rampant problem--it's just a well-publicized and highly feared problem.
Some people believe that it's impossible for Caucasian parents to adopt an African-American baby, mainly due to the position statement of the National Association of Black Social Workers (originally published in 1972).
Tell that to my former boss, who adopted an adorable AA baby boy through private domestic adoption (and it took her less than six months, from start of homestudy to completion of adoption). The NABSW's main focus was on keeping families together. They also advocate national marketing to recruit AA adoptive parents. Their position is quite similar to that of most people who discuss the politics of international adoption--the first, and best, family is the family of birth. The next preference is adoption within the culture/community, then looking at adoption outside the culture or nation. This is, actually, what the Central Chinese Adoption Authority says is behind their new regulations: the desire to find the best adoptive parents for the children in their orphanages--and they are actively promoting adoption within China as a first preference.
There are some people who have been actively discouraged by their agencies from adopting an African-American or biracial child. But there are plenty of other agencies out there; if you don't like the attitude or policies of one agency, you can always choose another.
Some express disbelief that adopting an African-American baby can be less expensive than adopting that cherished healthy white infant (HWI).
Much though I hate the practice, and find it distressing that there is, amongst certain agencies, a differential level of costs depending on the racial makeup of the child, it does exist. The reasons? They range from lower socio-economic status of the potential birthmothers, allowing them to qualify for state insurance programs, to supply-and-demand marketing principles. Some agencies use the more expensive programs (HWI) to subsidize the others.
Now. While it makes me grumpy to find people perpetuating these myths, for the most part, people I have encountered online or in person who have adopted have researched the various avenues, and made a conscious choice to follow the path they followed. I'm not knocking anyone's adoption choice; I am knocking not doing your homework, not making a well-informed decision based upon your comfort levels. Far too many people out there make snap judgments based on hearsay.
For what it's worth...
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