Adoption and foster care are two of the most common ways for hopeful parents to start a family. The differences between these two routes take up most of the spotlight — and rightfully so. Each is distinct, with different goals and unique processes. For all the differences, though, there are also similarities between foster care and adoption.
If you are trying to choose foster care vs. adoption, it may be more helpful to focus on the differences. These set the two apart from one another. Based on your set of circumstances, it’s likely that one of the two will be more appealing.
But it’s good to talk about what ways foster care and adoption are alike, too. Focusing just on the differences can create a sense of competition. It can start to feel like one is better than the other. But, that’s not the case.
The truth is that both foster care and adoption are important. Both create love and safety for children. And, if it’s right for your family, both can be the best thing you’ll ever do.
Similarities between Foster Care and Adoption
Why should you know about the similarities between adoption and fostering? Both deserve your appreciation and support. The greater your grasp on the similarities, the more you’ll see the value in each process.
Here are five big similarities between adoption and foster care.
1. Both aim to provide a safe place for children to grow and thrive
The primary goal of foster care is reunification. When a child enters the foster care system, a social worker will sit down with the biological family to create a reunification plan. This could involve a rehab program, secure employment or safe housing. Once the goals of the plan are met, a child can be reunited with their family — a process that can take weeks, months or years depending on the situation.
Adoptions are permanent placement of a child with adoptive parents. In infant adoptions, a prospective birth mother creates an adoption plan of her own volition. She chooses the adoptive parents she believes will be best for her baby. Shortly after birth, the baby is placed with the adoptive parents. Children can also be adopted internationally or through the foster care system if their parents aren’t able to complete their reunification plans.
In their own ways, each of these processes provides a child with a safe home. The hope is that the child can live their best life. The means are different, but the end outcome of each process is a key similarity between foster care and adoption.
2. Each involves caring for a child who is not biologically yours
Love is more than biology. A caretaker’s or parent’s love for a child supersedes biological connection in both adoption and foster care. This can come with unique challenges for parents and children. But, then again, all parenting comes with unique challenges.
3. Foster care and adoption require dedication
Caring for children is hard work. Some nights are sleepless, some days are stressful and sometimes kids aren’t the most reasonable little people. It takes a lot of work! One of the similarities between foster care and adoption is the amount of dedication each process requires of parents.
This dedication is not momentary, either. Adoption is a lifelong commitment, and even though most foster care placements are temporary, they can fill up months or years. Individuals taking part in either process make a serious commitment upfront to provide care for a child.
4. Adoption and foster care require the assistance of trained, licensed professionals
Adoption agencies provide the services necessary to complete each step of the adoption process. Foster care agencies and state departments work with foster parents, biological families and children to develop plans for care and reunification. Attorneys make sure everything happens by the book, and counselors provide support for the unique challenges of these journeys.
Working with good professionals is vital to success, which is one of the similarities between foster care and adoption.
5. Adoption and foster care are only possible because of brave, loving and courageous individuals
Research has found that there may be no more important factor determining whether or not a child will thrive than the empathy, love and care of their parent. A secure environment where a child feels safe allows them to become who they are meant to be. Both adoptive and foster parents create this space for children.
This is, perhaps, the heart of the similarities between foster care and adoption. Both are vitally important for the protection and nurturing of children who would be in otherwise vulnerable situations. While each process provides this safety in different ways, that’s something we can all celebrate.
Is Foster Care and Adoption the Same Thing?
No, they are not. Despite these similarities, foster care and adoption are distinct processes. Both seek to help children by providing love, safety and the opportunity to thrive. However, how this is accomplished is very different. Adoption placements are permanent, while most foster care placements are temporary. The type of professionals you work with, the cost of the process, the age of the children and many more factors vary between the two.
We’ve created a guide that dives into all of the most important differences between foster care and adoption for any hopeful parent in the process of choosing a family-building option.
Understanding the differences will help you know which option could be best for your family. However, we should also remember the similarities between foster care and adoption. This provides a proper appreciation for each, and allows us to more enthusiastically support individuals pursuing either path.
If you are interested in private domestic infant adoption and have more questions, please contact us today. We will connect you with a helpful adoption specialist. If you would like to learn more about the next steps toward becoming a foster parent, please contact your local child welfare department.