The Facts About Adoption
We typically associate the month of November with elections, Thanksgiving Day, and Black Friday sales, but November is also National Adoption Awareness Month. National Adoption Awareness Month came about as a result of National Adoption Day, which is observed annually on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. National Adoption Day was instituted by a coalition of national partners such as the Dave Thomas (Founder of Wendy’s) Foundation, the Children’s Action Network, and others to bring awareness to the need for foster care adoption.
Over the past few years, the Georgia Legislature has made legislative changes that made it easier to adopt children in Georgia. Yet, there remain common myths about adoption in general and foster care adoption in particular. As a way to observe National Adoption Awareness Month, we are addressing the mistaken beliefs about adoption.
Myth 1: Every child in the United States has a parent or family member to provide for their care. According to the most recent data by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other organizations, there are currently more than 400,000 children in foster care in the United States, and more than 120,000 waiting to be adopted.
Myth 2: You have to be married to adopt a child. You do not have to be married to adopt a child in the State of Georgia. If you are single, you must be at least 21 years of age and at least ten years older than the child. Except for cousins, the ten-year rule does not apply if you are related to the child.
Myth 3: You have to make a lot of money and own a home. You do not have to own a home to adopt a child. Moreover, you do not have to be wealthy or make a lot of money to adopt a child, but you must be able to provide for the physical, emotional, medical, psychological, educational, and social needs of the child.
Myth 4: It costs a lot of money to adopt a child from foster care. It typically costs zero to fifteen hundred dollars to adopt a child from foster care. Many children in foster care qualify for state adoption assistance to cover the court costs and attorney fees. Whether the child to be adopted is in foster care or not, there are tax credits for adopting a child, and some employers and the military offer financial and other adoption assistance and/or reimbursements.
Myth 5: All children in foster care have been abused and have emotional or psychological issues. Most children in foster care do not have psychological issues, and any emotional trauma is usually overcome with love and stability. Some of them have been abused, but others enter foster care for a host of other reasons. For example, they were neglected or their caregiver passed away, was given a lengthy prison sentence, or suffered a catastrophic illness that made caring for a child impossible.
Myth 6: You have to be of child-bearing age to adopt a child. Some children who are adopted from foster care, are adopted by people with adult children.
Every year more than 20,000 children age out of foster care without having been adopted. Of the children that age out of foster care, many are ill-equipped for the transition into adulthood. Studies such as that conducted by Chapin Hall of the University of Chicago consistently show that children who age out of foster care are more likely than their non-foster-care peers to end up with negative outcomes such as homelessness, joblessness, incarceration, and unplanned early parenting.
Every child deserves a safe and loving permanent home. When a child is adopted, it enriches the life of the child and strengthens the community as a whole. If you are interested in becoming a foster parent or adopting a child in foster care, contact your county Division of Family and Children Services.
Felita Cornog, Esq.