09/23/2022 AWFC

Foster Parent vs. Adoption: The Top Similarities and Differences

Foster parenting and adoption often spark confusion in those looking into them as an option since — on the surface, at least — they look very similar to each other. To help clear up any confusion you may have, here is a guide to the similarities and differences between foster parent vs. adoption arrangements.  


Similarities Between Foster Parents and Adoption

Let’s first look at some of the similarities in foster parent vs. adoption scenarios since there are quite a few. 

Both Involve Caring for Kids Who Aren’t Biologically Yours

Whether fostering in hopes of a child being reunified with their biological parents (or to later be adopted by someone else, if that comes about) or adopting a child and making him or her a permanent member of your own family, the fact is that the child is not biologically yours. 

In short, both foster parenting and adoption demonstrate how someone’s love for a child can (and should) transcend the absence of biological connections. 

Both Have the Best Interests of Children at Heart

Despite the differences in foster parent vs. adoption situations, both have a singular goal: To provide a safe, healthy, and nurturing space for children in need. Even though foster care is meant to be temporary, for as long as the child is in a foster parent’s care, the expectation is that they will be in a safe, secure, and stable place for the duration of their stay (which could be weeks, months, or even years). Adoptive parents choose to give a child a permanent home where they will be loved and cared for.

Both Require a Lot of Preparation

Whether a child is placed in a foster home or is adopted, there is a lot of preparation and verification involved. While the end goals for foster parents vs. adoptive parents differ, the parents still have to submit an application, go through background checks, open their house for home studies, and more. 

While specialized training is not usually specifically required for adoptive parents in the way that it is for foster parents, if you’re planning on fostering to adopt (or adopting a child currently in someone else’s foster care) you will likely have to go through training. In such cases, the lines are blurred between foster parents and adoptive parents. 

Both Require Your Dedication as a Parent

Both fostering and adopting are hard work, so both types of parents have to be supremely dedicated to the responsibility they’re taking on. Remember, bringing a child into your home will profoundly affect you and the child. A child may temporarily be in your foster care for years, and adoption signals a lifelong commitment to a child, but both can be incredibly rewarding and require dedication and compassion. 

Differences Between Foster Parents vs. Adoption

What about the differences? There are significant differences between foster parent vs. adoption situations. 

Fostering is (Usually) Temporary

The most obvious difference might be the fact that foster care is designed to be a temporary arrangement, whereas adoption is permanent. It is not in the interests of the child or the state agency and social workers overseeing fostering to keep a child in foster care indefinitely. There are usually specific reasons why a child — usually older than an infant — might go into the foster system, but the hope is there that they will return to their biological parents or other guardians.

Adoption is Permanent

Adoption, on the other hand, is meant to be a permanent situation. Whatever the reasons are that a child is placed into adoption, the biological parent usually chooses this route because they have the best interests of their child at heart; they simply believe the child will be loved and cared for by another family. 

By the way, while a foster parent can become an adoptive parent, a child usually does not enter foster care with that end result being intended by the state agency or even the foster parents themselves. 

Both Differ on Parental Rights and Involvement

Another major difference is the rights of a biological parent in a foster parent vs. adoption scenario. Biological parents may have their access and certain decision-making powers temporarily restricted while their child is in foster care; it depends on the individual circumstances. But overall, whether the issue is medical care, religious service attendance, and even which schools a foster child may attend, the biological parents retain the final say.

However, a child placed into adoption becomes the child of the adoptive parents. A biological parent may choose to stay in their child’s life as part of an open adoption or stay out in the case of a closed adoption. Either way, legally, adoptive parents can choose to raise their adopted child as they see fit; all decision-making power rests with the adoptive parents. 

Foster Parenting With A World For Children

There are both close similarities and vast differences in foster parent vs. adoption arrangements. Whatever path you choose (foster parent or adoption), you’re taking a huge step to make a positive difference in the lives of the children you bring into your home. A World For Children can help guide you all along the way, so get in touch today to get the process started.

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