How Does Foster Care Differ from Adoption?

Foster care and adoption are very different things. Foster care is, at its most basic level, a system where adults are able to care for children who cannot, at that time, live with their parents. Adoption is a process where a child who does not have parents or whose parents have either given up their parental rights or have had their parental rights removed by a court, is given to a parent or a couple and, legally, made their child forever.

Foster care is, many times, designed to be temporary. In many cases, a foster care setting is used while a birth family tries to resolve certain circumstances. It may be, for example, that the parent is being treated for a problem that makes her unable to care for her child. If a single mother is in an accident and must be in the hospital for an extended stay, for example, a child may be put in foster care. In some cases, the child may have been removed from the household for a safety reason, such as an abusive sibling or parent. Once the abusive sibling or parent is also removed from the household, the child may be moved out of foster care and back in with the birth family.

Some children who do not have parents or who cannot live with their parents may be permanently made wards of the state. These children will be placed in foster care. In some cases, the foster parents may choose to adopt the child. In other cases, the child may grow up through her entire life going from one foster home to another foster home.

Adoption, many times, involves infants or newborns, where a foster care setting usually involves older children. However, if a person is considering adoption, but doesn’t necessarily have to have a newborn, being involved in foster care can often be a way to help out some children in need, and can eventually lead to an adoption situation.

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