Adoption and foster care are often compared. Many people even use the two terms interchangeably. However, these are not the same thing.
If you are thinking about fostering or adoption, you should know what makes these two processes distinct. Both foster care and adoption exist to provide a loving home to a child. How this goal is accomplished is different with each process.
Depending on your dreams as a hopeful parent, there may be benefits to foster care vs. adoption, with one being clearly better for you than the other. This all depends on your unique situation. To help you decide, we’ve created this guide for everyone thinking about fostering or adoption.
We can’t tell you the right answer to the question, “Should I foster or adopt?”
What we can do is give you some questions to consider. Your answers will point you in the right direction.
Pros and Cons of Adopting Versus Foster Care
The pros and cons of adopting versus foster care will be based on what matters most to you. Some hopeful parents may be most concerned about the cost of the process, while others will prioritize the age of the child and the possibility of openness in the adoption.
What do you care most about? What are the non-negotiables in your adoption process? What are you ultimate hopes for this journey?
Finding answers to those questions will help anyone deciding on private adoption or foster adoption. Once you know those answers, think about these questions and see which type of adoption or foster care is most aligned with what you want.
Do I want to provide temporary care or adopt a child permanently?
While hopeful parents can choose to adopt a waiting foster child, and foster-to-adopt does end with a permanent placement, most foster care placements are temporary. This is not a bad thing. In fact, foster parents committed to providing loving, temporary care are in short supply and greatly needed.
However, if you are a hopeful parent with dreams of a permanent adoption placement, you should take this into account.
The private adoption process — working with an adoption agency to adopt a newborn — results in the permanent placement of a child. This is the only goal of this process. If your desire is to start a family by adopting a baby, this may be a major factoring when thinking about fostering or adoption.
What are we prepared for financially?
The cost associated with adoption can be a delicate subject, but it’s important to discuss. Anyone thinking about fostering or adoption should go in clear-eyed about what is financially required.
Cost is a significant factor for many families. However, it should not be the only factor. As we said above, foster care and adoption are very different processes. What you want out of the process is just as important as the cost associated with the process. Still, many hopeful parents deciding on adoption or foster adoption may feel financially prepared for one and not the other.
Am I able to provide a safe, supportive home for an older child?
The average age of waiting children in foster care is 8 years old. At this age, children have begun to form a sense of self. They have many life experiences and, as a waiting child, could have experienced neglect, abuse or other challenges. As a parent, your role is to provide the care that enables a child to heal, thrive and become who they are meant to be.
A child who has experienced challenging circumstances early in life may require a special approach to parenting. Are you ready to put in the effort to learn ways to care for your child and their specific needs? Becoming a foster parent or adopting from foster care is a unique responsibility. Committing to do what is necessary for your child to have the best life is a requirement.
Is my dream to adopt an infant?
Newborn adoption is most commonly accomplished through the domestic infant adoption process. While there are waiting children in foster care who are infants and toddlers, it is relatively uncommon to be placed with a child this young in foster care adoption.
Private adoption placements typically occur at the hospital shortly following birth. Because many of these adoptions are open or semi-open, there are even times when the adoptive parents are able to be present for their child’s birth. In either case, the norm in domestic adoption is to be placed with a newborn baby.
This is what many hopeful parents dream of when they think of adoption, and the ability to adopt an infant is the deciding factor for many considering the pros and cons of foster care vs. adoption through a private agency.
Have More Questions? Let’s Talk
Should I foster or adopt?
It’s a personal question, and it’s important to us that you find the right answers. If you have more questions about the benefits of foster care vs. private domestic adoption, please contact us today. We will put you in touch with an adoption specialist who can guide you in the right direction.
For questions specifically about foster care, and what it might look like for you to become a foster parent, please contact your local child welfare agency.