The British Association for Adoption & Fostering (BAAF) survey also found the same proportion think being single is a barrier to adoption, while almost a quarter of adults thought having a low household income would prevent them from adopting, and one in five believed lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are unable to adopt.
More than two thirds thought having a criminal conviction would be a barrier to adopting. Previous convictions are taken into consideration when someone comes forward to adopt, but offences do not automatically rule out potential adopters.
More than 2,100 UK adults were questioned about adoption criteria by the charity. David Holmes, chief executive of BAAF, said such misconceptions about adoption damage the prospects of children in care.
“There are some long-standing myths out there about who can and can’t adopt and we owe it to children in care who are waiting for adoption to explode those myths,” he said.
“These myths may be preventing thousands of prospective adopters from coming forward and in turn making thousands of children in care wait far too long for their new adoptive family.”
The report was published to highlight the start of National Adoption Week. Meanwhile a second study published by adoption and fostering charity Parents And Children Together (Pact) found that potential adopters are put off by the length of time they believe it takes to adopt a child.
The report found a third of prospective, existing and declined adopters thought the whole adoption process takes an average of 35 months. But Pact said the average time taken is actually 18 months.
“The adoption process is becoming more efficient and the timescales, certainly for Pact, are well under two years from initial enquiry to a child moving in with our families,” said Jan Fishwick, Pact’s chief executive.