5 Myths About Foster Care Adoption

Posted on August 1, 2022

By Rita L. Soronen

Right now, more than 113,000 children in the United States have been permanently separated from their family of origin and are waiting for someone to step forward to adopt them — an 11% increase in the last 10 years. 

Unfortunately, the myths and misperceptions surrounding foster care adoption can give many prospective parents pause. Let’s take a minute to correct some of these common myths: 

Myth 1: Foster care adoption is expensive. 

Foster care adoption typically costs $0 to $2,500, while private infant or international adoption might cost $30,000 to $60,000, or more, with financial support is available for families, including federal and state tax credits. Many employers also provide adoption benefits. In addition, subsidies follow most children in foster care until they are 18 or 21 years old, and assistance for college expenses of older youth is increasingly accessible as well. You do not have to be wealthy to adopt from foster care. 

To learn more, view the Foundation’s Financial Resources for Adoptive Families webpage.

Myth 2: Children are placed in foster care because they are juvenile delinquents. 

The 2022 U.S. Adoption and Foster Care Attitudes Survey revealed that more than half (51%) of Americans incorrectly believe that children are placed in foster care because they have done something wrong. Children are often placed in foster care because of abuse, neglect, parental drug use or other issues, and many have experienced countless layers of trauma, grief and loss in their lives. While the priority of the foster care system is to keep families together, the unfortunate reality is that many of these children are not returning to their family of origin because it is not safe. 

The foster care system is being stretched beyond its capacity, which has far-reaching impacts on children. Every year, more than 20,000 youth turned 18 or 21 and aged out of care without a permanent home. With nowhere to turn for support, many of these young people are at a higher risk of negative outcomes, such as homelessness and unemployment. No child is unadoptable, they just aren’t adopted. Every child needs and deserves the support of a family and caring adults to address the issues they experienced going into care, while they were waiting to be adopted and after the adoption is finalized. 

Myth 3: Adoptive parents need to be heterosexual, married couples. 

Families who adopt are as unique and diverse as the children in their care, and children in foster care do not need to wait for some specific notion of family. Families come in all shapes and sizes, with 28 percent of adopted children living in single-parent homes. You do not need to own your own home, be young, wealthy, married or a stay-at-home parent. Children need loving individuals in their lives who are willing to meet the challenges of parenting, who understand the journey the child has experienced while in foster care and who will make a lifetime commitment to caring for and nurturing them. 

Myth 4: Adoptive parents need to be under 50 years old. 

There is no ideal age to become an adoptive parent. Over 2.5 million children are being raised by grandparents or are in kinship care and approximately 26% of children adopted have at least one parent age 55 or older at the time of their adoption. It does not matter if adoptive parents already have children or have never had children. What matters is their willingness to commit to parenthood. 

Myth 5: A child’s family of origin can “reclaim” them. 

Almost half of the people considering foster care adoption incorrectly believe that a child’s family of origin can regain custody post-adoption. Adoptive parents have the same rights, responsibilities and protections as parents whose children were born to them. This also means children who have been adopted have all the emotional, social, legal and familial benefits of biological children. Adoption is permanent. When you adopt, it is as if the child was born to you. Always approach adoption as a long-term commitment. 

With more accurate information, real-time access to resources and a supportive network, providing a safe, loving and permanent home for children in need can be a viable and joyful option for many more families. 

Photo of Dave Thomas surrounded by children

Our founder, Dave Thomas, always said, “These children are not someone else’s responsibility. They are our responsibility.” You can help ensure that children still lingering in foster care do not wait any longer for a forever family.  

Whether you are an adoption professional, a prospective adoptive parent or someone interested in learning more about the process, our free, step-by-step guide is a valuable resource to help you make a difference in the life of a child. Download your copy. 

Rita Soronen is President & CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.

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