10 Common Myths About Foster Care and Adoption: Debunked

Foster mom and child on a dock

The illusory truth effect occurs when someone hears or reads a claim often enough that they think it's true. Unfortunately, this effect is one reason why myths run wild.

Believing in common misconceptions about foster care has the most significant impact on kids in the system. Many of us believe what we hear rather than spend time looking up the truth. However, it's habits like this that perpetuate false information.

We've compiled this guide to cover the top ten common foster care myths. Please keep reading to find important information about fostering and adoption.

Myth #1: You Have to Be Married to Be a Foster Parent

You don't have to be married to become a foster parent.

Many married couples choose to foster together, as the parenting journey can be easier when you split responsibilities. Yet there are plenty of single parents fostering children or adopting parents with help from support groups.

You also don't need to be heterosexual. Many LGBTQ+ individuals foster or adopt kids. You must have the time, resources, and energy to care for a child or sibling group.

Myth #2: You Need to Be Wealthy to Be a Foster Parent or Adoptive Parent

You don't need to be super wealthy to become a foster or adoptive parent, and there are no specific income requirements for fostering or adoption.

The main requirement is that you're financially stable. As long as you have a job or a steady source of income, you usually qualify.

Myth #3: Foster Children Are All Troubled and Damaged

This is one of the most harmful fostering or adoption myths. Some people believe all foster kids are runaways and juvenile delinquents.

Most children in the foster care system have experienced trauma, such as losing a parent. After all, their world has been completely turned upside down.

In an estimated 65% of abuse cases, neglect is the primary type of abuse. It's one of the most common reasons kids end up in the foster system. Separation from their birth parents and the home they knew can cause anxiety, depression, and PTSD.

Both children and adults benefit from proper treatment, such as therapy or trauma-informed care.

Myth #4: Foster Parents Can't Bond With Their Foster Children

Foster parents can and should bond with their foster children. After all, you can show these children the love and support they desperately need.

Saying goodbye to foster children can feel sad. However, you've made a difference in this child's life.

Myth #5: Foster Care and Adoption Are the Same Things

Foster care is a state-provided service that assists children who can't live with their birth parents due to particular concerns.

The main difference between fostering a child and becoming an adoptive family is that fostering is a temporary solution, and the goal in most cases is reunification with the birth parents or family members.

Adoption is permanent. Some children in the foster system become eligible for adoption if their parents or family members aren't good fits.

Myth #6: Foster Children Are Only Placed in Foster Homes Because of Abuse or Neglect

Kids enter foster care for many reasons, from neglect to the death of a parent. Abuse and neglect are common reasons kids end up in foster care, but it's not the only reason.

Sometimes parents feel unfit and may abandon their children or voluntarily place them in the private adoption system. Other kids may lose their homes if a parent becomes incarcerated.

Myth #7: You Have to Be Perfect to Be a Foster Parent or Adoptive Parent

There's no such thing as a perfect parent. Despite how much you prepare, there will always be times when you need to correct things.

Devote your time and energy to caring for a child the best you can. Communicate with them, tell them you love them, and learn from past mistakes.

Myth #8: You Can't Adopt a Child from a Different Race or Ethnicity

There are so many children in the foster care system in need of loving homes. You absolutely can adopt a child of a different race or ethnicity. It's called transracial adoption or fostering.

Recent studies have found that black and minority children rarely get adopted and reside in foster care longer. These kids need environments to call home.

Myth #9: Foster Care and Adoption Is Expensive

We mentioned earlier that you don't need a specific income to qualify as a foster parent. You need to be financially stable.

But what about the costs of raising a child through foster care or adoption?

Many resources are available to foster families, including reimbursement covering food, clothing, medical services, etc.

Adoption through the foster care system is less expensive than a private agency. Some states and organizations also offer adoption loans and tax credits.

Myth #10: Foster Care and Adoption ARE Too Difficult to Navigate

Once you know what to expect and undergo the necessary training, fostering and adoption are simple. Many resources, such as adoption agencies, are available, so you're never alone on this parenting journey.

We have many articles and plenty of information on our website. Plus, you can always contact us with questions!


Do you have questions about providing care? These are some common questions we hear.

Q: What are the requirements for becoming a foster or adoptive parent?

A: In Virginia, you must be 18 years old or older. You must attend orientation, complete training, and finish a home study. You must also have the time and energy to care for a child.

Q: How do I know if foster parenting or adoption is right for me?

A: Consider your financial situation, current responsibilities, and how much free time you have. Caring for children takes a lot of time and resources. Talk to your partner and discuss any questions or fears.

Q: What kind of support is available for foster parents and adoptive parents?

A: Here at the FosterVA team, we can provide all the information or resources you need to learn more about fostering and adoption. Check out our blog or contact us.

Q: Can I choose the age or gender of the foster child or adoptive child?

A: Although you can't pick a specific child, you can set age and gender preferences. Keep in mind that this may affect the placement timeline.

Q: How do I navigate foster care or adoption's legal and logistical aspects?

Navigating the legal system when fostering or adopting a child is daunting, but you have plenty of resources. Parent orientation and training will help you prepare by teaching you what to expect.

Debunking Foster Care Myths

Although many common misconceptions exist about foster care and adoption, we hope that guides like this will provide better insight.

Do you have any questions about these foster care myths or ones we didn't cover? Contact us here at FosterVA to learn more about the process and gain more foster care and adoption clarity.

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