I think all of us have certain pre-conceived notions and assumptions about most life issues including children. I hear them from friends, read them in books, and even hear from family members.
These myths are usually negative portrayals about situations and people (in this case - certain children) that are not based on the real experience of the person believing them and sometimes not based even remotely on reality. My experience as "dad-of-8" has gone contrary to a few of those myths. Here's a few of them.
MYTH 1: "If you adopt an older child they will never be like your own."
I've adopted several children that would be considered "older". One didn't enter my home as a foster child first until she was almost ten years old. Another when she was six. By the time they were adopted they were a few years older than that. As far as I am concerned, the only thing I missed out was the not so pleasant job of changing some more diapers. The advantage of adopting an older foster child that has been living with your family is that you will have a good idea about whether the adoption will successful because you've had a chance to really get to know that child. The child will also have a chance to express his/her feelings about joining your family permanently. I don't have any statistics or know if any have been done on the success rate of adopting older foster children by their foster family. I do know, it has worked for my family, and why not yours?
MYTH 2: Foster children come with too much "emotional baggage".
I've read this in books and heard it from some friends and family members. Some of my kids have come from situations that are definitely non-idealistic. A couple have gone in and out of foster care several times before being returned to my home on the way 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 had experiences that had an effect on their emotional well-being, their outlook towards adults, etc. But they also 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. Because they have known some bad, maybe that's why they have accepted being adopted as good. Six of my eight children are over the age of eighteen. All the six 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. The last 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 a 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 can come from all economic strata as well as races and religions. In my family, three of my children came from families that would be considered extremely comfortable financially. Three from financially troubled families and one somewhere in between.†