Whether you are looking to place a baby up for adoption or fostering, or indeed are looking to become an adopter or a foster parent it can be helpful to make sure that you fully understand the difference between adoption and foster care. Whilst adoption and foster care both offer a means of support to a child in need there are some obvious differences between the two, however with both the primary focus is of course the child themselves. Here we will look at what both actually mean as well as the differences, between the two.
Foster care is not a permanent choice. A child who is placed into the foster system care is often there because a child welfare worker has been involved and it has been found that the child has been living in conditions that are neglectful or abusive. It might also be that the biological family, or the child’s primary caregiver are not able to care for them and it is necessary to move them to an alternative living situation. This can be a temporary move or a permanent one. It may also be necessary to place a child in foster care in the event of the death of a parent or caregiver or If they become ill. Foster care may also take place in the case of incarceration of a parent or caregiver. In these cases, it may be just a temporary measure until another family member is found to look after the child.
Foster parents are paid a monthly amount, as stipulated by the state, to cover the costs of raising the child for the duration of the foster care period. Any child who is in foster care will have been placed under the custody of an agency of the state.
Foster care ceases when a child turns 18.
Adoption is permanent and occurs when the birth parents choose to voluntarily give up any parental right they have to the child. This is usually because they believe that it is in the best interest of their child that they are raised by someone else. Whatever the reason for giving up the child, be it due to ill health or living hand to mouth, the birth parents want the best for their child and believe that a family seeking to adopt will be able to offer more financial security to the child. In contrast to fostering, adoption offers more legal security to both the child and adoptive parents. Whilst foster care only lasts until the age of 18, adoption does not.
Adoption does not always mean a stranger taking legal responsibility for the child in question. Adoptions can take place with a family member, and these can be a private arrangement through an adoption agency or even an adoption attorney. Adoptions can take place on a domestic or international basis.
There are a number of key differences that exist between adoption and fostering, and we outline these below:
Because foster care is often a temporary solution, a child can often be placed in foster care with little to no notice whilst alternative arrangements are made for their care. On average, around half of the children placed in foster care are later reunited with their biological parents. This can sometimes prove emotionally challenging for the foster parents, who will have formed a bond over time with their foster child.
Adoption, on the other hand, is a much lengthier process, taking anywhere from six months to several years to complete. There is a period of time during the adoption process when the birth mother is still able to change her mind about putting her child up for adoption, making this a very emotional time for the adoptive parents. However, there is plenty of support offered during the adoption process in terms of both pre and post adoption support.
As previously mentioned, foster care is not permanent whereas adoption is. Foster care provides a temporary arrangement for a child. Depending on the circumstances, it may be possible for them to return home to birth family. Alternatively, if this is not an option, then they will most likely move on from the foster care system to join an adoptive family.
In some cases, a child may go on to be adopted by the family who have been providing them with foster care. However, this is not always the case, and it will depend on the circumstances of the foster care situation as well as the feelings of the foster care family and the child.
Adoption is permanent, and the adoptive parents take on full parental responsibility for the child as though they were in fact their own biological child.
When a child is placed into foster care the parental rights for any major decisions to do with that child remain with the birth parents. This only changes if there is an adoption decision in the picture. The foster parents are unable to make any decisions relating to medical treatments and procedures, education and religion without first consulting with the birth parents. In cases where the court has terminated the rights of the birth parents, then these decisions will be overseen by the agency who oversee both the child and the foster relationship. They will act in place of the biological parents.
Following an adoption, all parental and legal rights for a child will be transferred away from the biological parents and given to the adoptive parents who will be able to make all decisions on the part of the child. In essence, the responsibilities that come with adoption are comparable to those that a parent has when they give birth to the child.
If you are considering adoption then why not get in touch with Adoption Alliance, we can answer any questions that you might have about foster care vs adoption and help you get started on the road to adoption if you feel it is the right choice for you.