When you’re thinking about adoption for your baby or you’re considering giving up a child for adoption, it seems like everybody’s got something to say, good or bad, but what’s the truth about adoption?

(And where do you find the truth, when it seems like the whole world is for or against adoption?)

To be honest, you’ll find an unlimited number of opinions online or even in the grocery store line. After all, just about everybody know someone who was adopted or who adopted or who gave a baby up for adoption.

So here’s a starter pack of things you should know, from an adoption agency that’s been doing adoption for almost thirty years and knows a thing or two by now…

Fact: adoption changes things.

Making an adoption decision will change things for you and for the child you may place, for the parents who adopt, in ways you can and cannot anticipate.  Adoption can enable somebody else to become your child’s parents, and they will be very grateful for that opportunity, no doubt. It will allow you to not parent that child, and to pursue your own goals, but it’s likely to be a decision that may be harder, emotionally, than you may expect. Adoption is a choice that some adoptees are very thankful for, and that other adoptees may question at times? Yet in any adoption, the birthparents and adoptive parents and adoptees all get to decide for themselves, as the years go by, how they want to feel about the adoption and the way it changed each of their lives.

Fact: adoption creates new opportunities– and challenges.

People who choose open adoption usually find that their adoption relationships add a whole new layer of meaning in their lives. Open adoption gives you the rare opportunity to pick your own relatives by deciding who you wish to be family with. But all relationships take work to make them work, so be sure to approach adoption relationships with honesty, integrity and mutual respect. And when conflicts arise, as they will in any real relationships, take the time to work through them, for the sake of the adoptee who needs all of you.

Fact: adoption secrets aren’t healthy for anyone.

When you don’t know better, it may seem like closed adoption is best because everyone gets to pretend there’s a clean slate. But the truth is that only the truth will set you free, which is why fully-open adoption is usually a better choice in reality. Secrets in adoption are never healthy, because these create greater burdens (and shame) for everyone in the long run.  Any adoption that requires secrets to be kept is usually an adoption that’s going to hurt the adoptee when they eventually find out (as they will.)

Fact: blood isn’t thicker than water.

Family bonds aren’t about blood nor water, to tell the truth. Attachment between parents and children typically depend on the coming together of two unrelated persons, whether they meet in a romantic or sexual encounter or as a result of a courtship or an adoption plan. (Think about it!) Whether adoptive parents and the child they adopt develop a healthy lifelong bond or not can depend on the compatibility between the birthparents and the adoptive parents, for starters, and on the attachment that grows between the child and their new parents after placement. The bond between any parent and child is grown, not inborn, whether someone becomes a parent by birth or by adoption, and there are never any guarantees either way.

The truth about adoption is that the best adoptions always put the adoptee’s needs first.

Here’s the funny thing: adoption plans are never made by the adoptee. They usually get no say in what is undoubtedly the most important decision in their entire life. So adoption decisions get made based on the needs or wants of the birthparents and the adoptive parents, in truth, Yet in order to be truly what’s best for the adoptee, both the placing parents and the adopting parents have to put aside what they want or need, and think long and hard about what is going to be best for that baby or child– not just while they’re little but their whole life long.

That’s super hard to do, especially if you’re staring down the barrel of an unwanted pregnancy or an unexpected infertility diagnosis. We all want what we want, of course, so it’s easy to justify our own choices based on our own situations, But an adoption that’s done just to satisfy the needs of a parent rarely results in a healthy placement– even if adoption agencies or attorneys or facilitators want to see an adoption go through for their own selfish reasons,

So here’s our advice: do your homework. Learn all you can about all your options, Listen to adoptees because nobody knows more about adoptions that work and those that didn’t. Seek counseling from unbiased resources (not just sales pitches from adoption service providers.) Take your time to be sure if (and when) adoption is the right decision, and always, always ask yourself “what will be best for the child involved?” 

Then, and only then, can you be certain if the truth about adoption will best fit the life of your child and yourself.

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