Many people still believe gay couples are not allowed to adopt children, a survey has found.
Research into common misconceptions around adoption found 11% believed gay or lesbian people were ineligible while 29% thought single men could not adopt.
Children are missing out on new homes because people wrongly believe they are automatically ruled out, the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) said.
The survey, for the BAAF, which was published to coincide with the start of National Adoption Week, also found 32% of people thought anyone over the age of 40 could not become an adoptive parent.
BAAF, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, said health issues including smoking and obesity did not exclude people from adopting but would be considered during an assessment.
The charity also said there was no blanket ban on people with criminal convictions applying to adopt, although those with certain convictions including offences against children were prohibited from adopting.
Just under 40% thought the main reason children were adopted was because they had been "given up" at birth while others thought most adopted children were orphans. In reality, the most common reason for adoption is to remove children from their birth families because of abuse and neglect.
David Holmes, chief executive of BAAF, said: "It is worrying how many myths have come to dominate in adoption. It concerns us that people may disqualify themselves needlessly, which could mean a child misses out on a family.
"The key message is anyone over 21 can apply to adopt. However there is no right to adopt and everyone whose application is taken forward will be subject to a very thorough assessment. Every case is treated individually.
"The good news is that 94% of people who make it to an adoption panel get approved. So we strongly urge anyone interested in adoption to make an inquiry. Don't rule yourself out without at least finding out the facts."