Ah, the careless teenage birth parent.
I’m not sure she actually exists.
Getting pregnant, no matter how old you are, doesn’t mean you’re careless. And although there are thousands of teenage birth parents, there are even more birth parents who made their adoption plans well after their adolescent years were over.
It’s time to dispel some of the birth parent myths under which too many people still seem to be operating. With the help of the Donaldson Institute’s 2006 study “Safeguarding the Rights and Well-Being of Birth Parents in the Adoption Process,” we went ahead and took a look.
Myth: Most birth parents are teenagers.
Fact: Birth parents are an extremely diverse group, but if we’re going to make generalizations, the statistics show that the majority of today’s birth moms are high school graduates in their 20s, many of whom are already parenting other children. Only about a quarter of women who choose adoption are teenagers.
Myth: Most birth parents are drug users.
Fact: Many Americans struggle with substance abuse, and so do some birth parents, but that doesn’t mean that all birth parents abuse drugs. Every year about 13,000 to 14,000 women place an infant for adoption, and they each have their own unique situation and story.
Myth: Birth parents “give up” their babies because they don’t care about them.
Fact: Most birth parents choose adoption out of love for their babies and feel a deep loss after placement. Those who have open adoptions and are able to know how their child is doing as they grow up have been shown to experience lower levels of grief and greater peace of mind as time goes on.
Myth: Birth parents want to drop their babies off and never see them again.
Fact: Birth parents have the right to choose the level of openness they want in their adoption, and Adoptions Together respects the needs of those who do not wish to keep in touch. However, most birth mothers say they do want to have contact with their child and their child’s family after placement, or at least receive information about how their child is doing.
Myth: Sometimes biological parents don’t realize that adoption is the best choice for them and need a friend, family member, social worker, or medical professional to help them understand why it is.
Fact: No parent should be pressured into placing their child for adoption; research has consistently shown that those who feel coerced have a much more difficult time healing after placement. This is why Adoptions Together supports state laws that require thorough in-person counseling as well as waiting periods during which birth parents can change their minds.
What other birth parent myths have you come across? Tell us in the comments!