Of all the ways to become a parent or expand your family, adoption has a special grip on the heartstrings. (Oh, just hold us, Lionel and Nicole Richie.) But even now, widely held misconceptions about the process persist. Here are five lies it’s time to stop believing.

RELATED: 5 IVF Myths That Just Aren’t True

adoption myth 1
Twenty20

It takes forever 
Most families successfully adopt within two years of starting the process, experts say. However, to adopt a U.S.-born infant, it can take up to seven years. Families looking to adopt children with special needs often find the process (involving in-depth screenings, background checks and visits from a social worker known as a “home study”) goes much more quickly. 

International adoption is more popular than domestic adoption
It’s actually the opposite: More U.S. families (about 18,000 of them) adopt domestically than internationally each year. In 2015, fewer than 6,500 children were adopted from other countries.   

It’s crazy expensive
Not always. A wide range of factors impact cost: whether you pursue adoption through a public agency, a private agency or with an independent intermediary; whether you are covering the birth mother’s medical costs; and the cost of your attorneys fees, to name a few. On the high end, domestic adoption of an infant may cost up to $70,000. International adoptions may reach $40,000, not including travel-related expenses (many adoptive parents visit their child’s country of origin at least twice). To offset this, adoptive parents may receive subsidies, grants, loans or other types of financial aid including tax credits.

adoption myth 2
Twenty20

Birth parents could seek custody down the road
Highly unlikely. “Some states require a several-day waiting period after birth to confirm adoption, but once legal paperwork is filed, an adopted child belongs to the adopted parents,” reports USA Today. The National Adoption Center seconds this: “Once the adoption has been finalized, the biological parents have no legal tie to the child.” Heartbreakingly, adoptions do fall through before they are finalized, but less than one percent of domestic adoptions are legally contested after the relinquishment of parental rights.

Adoptions are shrouded in secrecy   
Not nowadays. To the benefit of everyone involved, transparency is most definitely trending. As many as 55 percent of birth mothers opt for "open adoptions." Exactly what that means is determined by each individual birth mother and adoptive family, but the two parties often meet before the baby is born, keep in touch via email and social media for the first 18 years of the child’s life and establish a plan for contact—even annual visits—after parental rights have been transferred. "Birth families are more likely to have access to counseling and independent legal representation, and, together with the adopting family, determine the nature of contact after the adoption,” say the folks at AdoptiveFamilies.com. In other words, there is no “norm,” only what’s right for you and your family.

RELATED: 8 Hacks That Make Having a Newborn Just a Bit Easier

From Around The Web