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Fighting the Adoption Stereotypes

November 20, 2013

Many (if not all) adoptive families have experienced the damaging effects of stereotypes and labels applied to adopted children. From headlines like “Adopted child steals car” to references in parent-teacher meetings about a child’s adoption affecting school work, negative labels placed on adopted children find their ways into our lives.

Even the media portrays adopted children in negative ways. For example, many adoption communities were outraged at the following exchange in the movie “Avengers”:

Thor: “He is of Asgard and he is my brother.”

Black Widow: “He killed 80 people in two days.”

Thor: “He’s adopted.”

This negative portrayal continues in other hit movies like “Orphan” that perpetuate older adopted children as “deranged.” But it isn’t just the media that encourages this negative stigma; everyone seems to simply accept it as a fact. Why is it that society feels the need to constantly categorize these innocent children in groups with serial killers and monsters? And what can we do to change the perspective to the reality of the situation?

The answer lies in education. We must repeat the facts about how adoption offers hope and new beginnings to children and birthmothers. Yes, many orphaned children have faced heartbreak in their young lives, but each child is his or her own person, just like any other child, and ultimately studies show that adopted children develop the same, if not better than other children.

The Christian Alliance for Orphans has compiled a list of facts from different surveys of adopted children taken over different periods of time.

  • In 1994, the Search Institute found in their study of adopted teens versus other teens that adopted teens scored higher on indicators of well-being like self-esteem and school performance and scored lower on indicators of high-risk behavior like depression.

  • In a 2007 study by Juffer and Van Ijzendoorn, there was no difference between the self-esteem of adopted and non-adopted children and teens, including transracial and same-racial adoptees.

  • Palacios and Sanchez-Sandoval found in their 2005 study that adopted children were well integrated in their schools and families.

  • In 2004 a study by Benson stated that long-term outcomes are positive for adopted children with little or no difference to that of non-adopted children.

The list goes on, but in the end studies show that adopted children develop along the same lines as non-adopted children. But don’t just take it from professionals; take it from the adoptee’s testimonies. Here is a great example of an adoption success story. Also, check out our testimonies on our website.