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Foster Care Story

Together We Rise

Rosario Dawson made headlines late last year when she adopted a 12-year-old girl.

An insider told E! News at the time that the first-time mom was "over the moon" to welcome a daughter, but some people were curious as to why Dawson didn't adopt a baby instead. The 36-year-old actress has yet to talk publicly about the very personal subject, but plenty of other families are opening up about their overwhelmingly positive experiences adopting kids of varying ages from foster care.

Per Today, there are more than 100,000 children in foster care still waiting for permanent homes. Fortunately, an increasing number of potential parents are choosing to adopt from foster care.

That said, according to a 2013 study by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, approximately half of Americans "believe children in foster care are juvenile delinquents." In reality, though, the study reports that "children enter the foster care system through no fault of their own, as victims of neglect, abandonment and/or abuse."

In order to dispel some of the common misconceptions about adopting from foster fare, Today spoke with adoptive families and experts alike. One major myth they'd like to put to rest is that if you adopt an older child as opposed to a baby, they will never feel like "yours."

"That's just so wrong," Rita Soronen, CEO and President of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, tells Today. "There's just no reason to think that adopting an older youth—whether they're nine or 16—isn't worth the effort."

The Shaw family can attest to this! Diane and Fred Shaw adopted their 17-year-old daughter Breanna and her brother this past May."I was so nervous… to have two teens in the house I didn't know," Diane recalls.

But the first time time they met, Diane "couldn't stop smiling," she says. "And whenever [Breanna and her brother] turned their backs, I'd mouth to my husband that I loved them."

As for Breanna? Her Adoption Day "was the best day of my life," she tells Today. "I have a family all my own...and I know they're not going to ever give up on me."

For more Adoption Day photos, visit Together We Rise on Facebook and Twitter. Plus, be sure to check out Today's full story that might challenge your views about adopting from foster care.

(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)