And why they're wrong
Published: October 30, 2023
By: Rita Soronen
“It’s too expensive.”
“Children in foster care are too set in their ways to blend in with my family.”
“I’m not married, so I can’t adopt, right?”
“I don’t want to deal with the child’s family of origin or the child welfare system — it’s all just too complicated!”
It’s important for prospective parents to consider all of the challenges they could face when creating or expanding a family through foster care adoption — from financial implications to household dynamics. But opting out of the process based on myths or misperceptions about the children or the systems involved is simply a disservice to the thousands of young people waiting in foster care for a permanent family.
So, let’s address some of these myths.
Myth 1: It is too expensive to adopt from foster care.
Foster care adoption typically costs $0 to $1,500, and 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 with college expenses for older youth is increasingly accessible as well. You do not have to be wealthy to adopt from foster care.
Myth 2: Children in foster care are juvenile delinquents.
The 2022 U.S. Adoption and Foster Care Attitudes Survey revealed that more than half (51 percent) of Americans incorrectly believe that children are placed in foster care because they have done something wrong. It is a misconception that we must continue to fight. Children are placed in foster care after enduring abuse, neglect, parental drug use or other issues, and many have experienced countless layers of trauma, grief and loss in their lives. Unfortunately, many of these children are not returning to their family of origin because it is not safe. These youth need and deserve 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. No child is unadoptable; they just aren’t adopted.
Myth 3: Single individuals cannot adopt.
Individuals 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.
Myth 4: A child’s family of origin can try to “reclaim” them.
According to the 2022 U.S. Adoption and Foster Care Attitudes Survey, nearly 80 percent of people considering foster care adoption are concerned that a child’s family of origin could 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. Always approach the process as a long-term commitment.
Myth 5: Dealing with the child welfare system is too burdensome.
Large systems, from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to health care providers, can be frustrating and complex. The child welfare system in your state or county can seem as though it is fraught with rules, processes and sometimes, unresponsiveness. But the professionals involved are as committed as you are to finding permanent homes for children and want
to walk you through the process every step of the way.
When children in foster care are permanently removed from their families of origin, we make what should be an unbreakable promise to them: we will find them a family. And we will do it in a way that respects the child’s voice and considers their unique needs and lived experiences.
Contemplating the challenges of foster care adoption is easier with the right information, a network of support and knowing that our staff at the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption stands ready to help in any way we can.
To get started on your adoption journey or to learn more about the process, download our free, step-by-step adoption guide at www.davethomasfoundation/library/finding-forever-families.
Rita Soronen is President and CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.