I think all of us have certain preconceived notions and assumptions about most issues involving children. Sometimes, these assumptions are myths. I hear them from friends and even family members, and read them in books.
These myths are usually negative portrayals about situations and people that are not based on true experiences, and sometimes are not based, even remotely, on reality. My experience as a “dad-of-eight” has proven contrary to some of those myths. Here are three of them:
MYTH 1: “If you adopt an older child, they will never be like a biological child.”
I have adopted several children that would be considered “older.” One was almost ten years old when she first entered my home as a foster child, another when she was six. They were a few years older by the time I adopted them. As far as I was concerned, the only thing I missed out on was the not-so-pleasant job of changing more diapers. The advantage of adopting an older child in foster care who has lived with your family is that you will have a good idea about whether or not the adoption will be successful because you’ve had a chance to really get to know that child. The child will also have a chance to express his or her feelings about joining your family permanently. I don’t know the statistical success rate of foster families adopting older children in foster care, but I do know it has worked for my family. Why not yours?
MYTH 2: Foster children come with too much “emotional baggage.”
I have read this myth in books and heard it from friends and family members. Some of my kids have come from situations that are definitely not ideal. Some were in and out of foster care several times before being returned to my home to be adopted. One came to my home straight from the hospital after recovering from physical abuse from a biological parent.
There is no question that they have had experiences that effected on their emotional wellbeing, their outlook on adults, etc. But they came to my home with a means of comparison. I believe that all of them know and realize how much I love and care about them. Maybe they have accepted their adoption as being a good thing because they have known some bad things.
Six of my eight children are over the age of eighteen. All six have graduated high school. Two are college graduates, one is currently attending a top college, one is happily married and earning almost double what I earn per year, one is on her way to managing a retail store, and one is working as a medical assistant.
“Emotional baggage?” Just a myth.
I realize that my experience might not be every adoptive parent’s experience. But until you have met the particular child, the myth of “emotional baggage” should not exist in your mind.
MYTH 3: “Foster children only come from lower class families.”
I don’t have statistics to confirm my observations, but I have noticed that foster children come from all socioeconomic classes, as well as races and religions. Three of my children came from families that would be considered extremely financially comfortable, three came from financially troubled families, and one from somewhere in between.
There are many other myths concerning children in foster care and/or children who were adopted. Maybe by becoming a foster or adoptive parent, you might just bust a few of those myths in your own way.