The Pros and Cons of Foster Care Adoption

We know that every hopeful parent has a lot to think about when they pursue any type of adoption, and foster care is no exception. Many hopeful parents have an amazing experience with foster care adoption, but every situation is different, and you’ll need to do plenty of research on the pros and cons of foster care adoption to decide if it’s right for you. If you’re wondering, “What are the benefits — and challenges — of adopting a child from foster care?”, here are some things to consider before you embark on this incredible journey.

What are the Benefits of Adopting a Foster Child?

Adopting a child from foster care may be the most rewarding thing you ever do. Not only do adoptive parents enjoy the personal benefits of foster and adoptive parenting; there are also countless benefits children get when adopted through foster care.

Here are just a few of the potential pros of adopting a foster child:

It’s A Great Way to Build a Family

All of the dreams you’ve had of parenthood become a reality when you adopt a child from foster care. For hopeful parents who have been waiting for the chance to have a child of their own, adopting from foster care is just another way to become the family they’ve always wanted to be. You’re getting the chance to add another member to your family, build a fulfilling relationship, and experience all the joys that come with parenthood. Although the adoption process can sometimes be lengthy and frustrating, the end results are immeasurable, and the benefits of adoption through foster care will last a lifetime.

The Process is Affordable

When you factor in agency fees, legal and birth mother expenses, and advertising/networking costs, the average private domestic or international adoption can end up costing a family upwards of $50,000. That’s a steep price to pay for most American families.

However, hopeful parents who think, “How am I going to afford to adopt?” don’t have to give up on their dreams of building a family. One of the perks of adopting a foster child is the affordability of the process. Because the costs of adopting from foster care are often subsidized or reimbursed by the state, it costs very little or nothing at all to adopt a child from foster care. Foster parents are also eligible to receive ongoing adoption assistance through adoption subsidies and insurance benefits to help support the newest member of their family. And, although they might not receive a full scholarship, there are many financial aid opportunities students adopted from foster care are eligible for to help cover their education. When you compare the cost of foster care to other types of adoption, its affordability becomes one of the biggest positives to fostering and adopting.

It is Emotionally Fulfilling

When you adopt a child from foster care, you’re not just giving them a safe, loving home; you’re giving them the chance to succeed. Teenagers who age out of the foster care system are less likely to have a strong support network waiting for them. This means that, compared to their peers, older foster children are more likely to struggle as they navigate the pressures of adulthood on their own.

As a potential foster-adoptive parent, you could be the change they need to thrive and experience the benefits of foster care adoption firsthand.

Becoming a parent isn’t always easy, but the foster and adoptive parent advantages make it all worth it. Helping a child grow and work through their past trauma could be the most rewarding thing that you ever do.

Are There Any Disadvantages of Foster Care Adoption?

While there are many benefits of adopting from foster care, there are also some potential challenges to think about before you decide to move forward with this process. Foster care adoption is not for the faint of heart, and it’s important to fully consider all of the pros and cons of adopting a child from foster care so you can determine whether you are ready for any potential difficulties that may arise. Here are a few things to be aware of:

Parenting a Foster Child Comes with Unique Challenges

While there are many benefits of adopting foster children, adopting from foster isn’t a decision to be made lightly. Many of the children in foster care are living with trauma or special needs. They may be grieving the loss of a relationship with their birth family, struggling to fit into their new home, and facing fears about their future. Every child copes with these challenges differently, which means some children may need mental health services or help working through behavioral issues. Every child deserves a safe, loving home where all of their needs are met, so please think carefully and look at all of the pros and cons of adopting from foster care to make sure you’re able to care for a foster child adequately.

Foster Care is Geared Toward Older Children

While it’s not impossible to adopt an infant or a newborn from foster care, working with a private domestic adoption agency is usually a better option if your goal is to adopt a baby. Although there is a wide age range of children in the foster care system, the average foster child is about 8 years old. Hopeful parents who are waiting for the opportunity to adopt an infant from foster care could end up waiting longer than they hoped.

Not Everyone Understands Foster Adoption

There are many myths and stereotypes that keep hopeful parents from adopting a foster child, and none of them are true. As a parent adopting from foster care, you’ll have to be ready to answer some tough, and insensitive, questions from friends and family. Taking on the role of an educator for your friends and family can be emotionally exhausting. You’ll spend a lot of time explaining the advantages of adoption and fostering to someone who might never understand why you’ve chosen this path for your family.

The Pros and Cons of Fostering to Adopt

There is more than one way to grow your family through foster care. If you are becoming a foster parent with the hopes of eventually adopting one (or more) of your foster children, there are some additional pros and cons of foster-to-adopt that you’ll need to think about.

In addition to the foster care adoption pros and cons listed above, you will need to consider the following:

Benefits of Fostering to Adopt:

  • Foster Parents are Given Priority – Not every child in foster care is eligible for adoption. But, when a child is legally freed for adoption, his or her foster parents are usually given the first opportunity to adopt before caseworkers will begin considering other families.
  • More Stability for the Child – One of the major advantages of adoption by foster parents is increased stability for the child. If a child has been living with their foster family for months or years before they become eligible for adoption, they have likely formed attachments to their foster parents, siblings, home, school and community. Being adopted by their foster parent allows them to maintain relationships that are important to them and prevents them from having to move and start over with a new family.

Challenges of Fostering to Adopt:

  • Not all Foster Children Can be Adopted – While there are many benefits of foster parent adoption, there is also one major drawback — there are no guarantees that foster parents will be able to adopt the children they foster. Families who choose foster-to-adopt should understand that the first goal of the foster care system is reunification, and they should be prepared to support that goal however they can. It can be heartbreaking to care for and fall in love with a child, only to say goodbye when they return to their birth family. That is a risk families should be prepared for before choosing this path.

If you are debating between applying to adopt a waiting child or becoming a foster parent first, it’s important to think about all of the pros and cons of adopting a child from foster care through either method.

Is Foster Care Right For You?

Deciding which type of adoption to pursue will be one of the toughest decisions a hopeful parent makes. While there are many benefits of fostering to adopt or adopting from foster care, there are some potential cons that all hopeful parents should be aware of. There are a lot of questions that you’ll have to ask yourself if you’re considering adoption from foster care. If you’re feeling stuck, don’t hesitate to reach out to an adoption specialist near you for more information on adoption or foster care pros and cons.