8 Common Myths About Foster Care and Adoption

Child holding hands with two foster parents

The latest data from the Virginia Department of Social Services indicates that more than 5,000 children are in foster care as of June 2022. 

Many foster youths need your help and a loving family to call their own. However, certain myths may prevent families from fostering or adopting children in need. Your children and families would also benefit from understanding what is a myth and what is facts in foster care.

We're here to debunk those common foster care myths. Find out the truth and learn how you can make a difference. 

You Must Be Married to be a foster parent

A common foster care myth is that single parents and unmarried partners can't become foster parents. The truth is that there aren't any marital requirements when it comes to fostering a child. 

You must prove a stable, livable income. You also need the time and desire to care for a child.

Parents must make many sacrifices for a child. Sometimes that means working longer hours or giving up their free time. Single parents may need to make more sacrifices than a married couple. 

It might be easier for a couple to foster due to combined incomes and more time between them. However, being single isn't a barrier to fostering, and we have amazing single parents that work with our kids. 

There aren't any restrictions that state only heterosexual couples can become foster care parents. Foster parents can be married, divorced, separated, cohabiting, partners, and so on. Same-sex couples are more than welcome to apply, with 30% of foster kids seeing themselves as LGBTQ community member. 

You Need to Own Your Home to be a foster parent

Homeownership also isn't a barrier to becoming a foster family. You can foster a child if you rent or live with an extended family, but all household members must pass the background checks.

That said, you must have enough room in the home for a foster child. They can share a room with another child of the same sex, but they must have their own bed

It can be easier on the family and the child if they have their own room. Having a spare bedroom is helpful in this case. 

I'm Too Old to Foster a Child

You must be 18 years old to foster a child in Virginia, but many agencies have their age restrictions. That said, there aren't any rules about how old is "too old." 

You could be a foster parent regardless of age if you feel you have the time and energy to care for a child. 

You Must Become a Stay-At-Home Parent

The average age of children waiting on adoption in foster care is eight years old. Most are school-aged children that spend their days in class. Working outside the home allows many parents to maintain a typical work schedule. 

To foster or adopt a child, you don't have to become a stay-at-home mom or dad. You can also make arrangements for after-school care or daycare. 

You can learn more about financial considerations in our recent blog post

It helps to have a family member, spouse, or partner around to help pick up and drop off the child and take them to mental health appointments and after-school activities such as visiting biological parents or other family services. However, you don't have to give up your career to care for a child. 

I Don't Have a Choice about the child I foster

The whole goal of the foster care system is to find the right family for the child. The family has a significant voice regarding who they feel best fits their family. Many kids will not be referred to you as the agency feels you will not be the best fit for the child. If your agency offers you a child to foster, they should be confident you will be successful, but you will always have the last word, and No to the placement is ok.

For instance, maybe you feel you're not ready to care for an older child yet, and you'd prefer to be matched with a younger one. If that's the case, we recommend reading this content on fostering teens. 

When you enter the child welfare services arena, you will learn a lot about children's needs and what you can handle and can not. The Department of Social Services assesses the child's needs and works toward finding the right family for the best fit possible. We will ensure you know the child, and you will always have the choice to accept or say no to that child before they come into your family home.

I Can't Foster Without Parenting Experience

While having some parenting knowledge can help, fostering and adoption are unique experiences all their own. You can be an excellent foster parent if you're loving and responsible. 

Remember, every single parent starts somewhere! Much of what you need to learn will come with experience. One of the essential features of a foster parent is a willingness to learn and adapt. 

That said, part of the process is attending training and classes to learn more about the process and how to become a foster parent. The training sessions are free, and you'll learn valuable information you can use to become a better foster parent. 

I Can't Foster Because of a Past Conviction

It depends on the nature of the crime, the length of time that has passed, and the severity. It also depends on whether a child was involved in the offense. 

Part of the process is undergoing a background check. However, even if you have a criminal record, you may still be able to foster a child. 

Although this is only a guide, you can learn more about convictions and fostering children. 

I'll Get Too Attached to a foster child

The most essential gift foster care parents can give a child is love, and getting attached is a sign you want to see them grow and thrive. When a child enters foster care, they need all the love you can give if they stay with you is short term or long-term they need you. Seeing a child move on can be challenging, but you'll always know that you gave them something special while they lived with your family. Your Child Placing Agency will train you to look after yourself in this transition, but you are the adult and giving your love and strength to a child a true gift in their lives.

You may have provided what they need to heal and regain trust in a family again. 

Some foster parents may choose to go down the foster-to-adoption path. If you plan to adopt a child, being a foster parent first is a great way to learn about parenting and see if it's the right choice for you. 

Become a Foster Care Parent

We hope that debunking these common myths has taught you more about foster care. We hope you spread the word so every child can find a home! 

At FosterVA, we want to educate potential foster families on their options and ways they can help. 

If you're interested in becoming a foster care parent, you can take the next step today by filling out this form. Our Parent Advocate will contact you soon and tell you more about the process. 

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