What are the Differences between Adoption and Foster Care?
As a pregnant woman considering adoption, you may have wondered if your adoption journey will entail interacting with the foster care system in any way. Perhaps you understand adoption and foster care to mean the same thing. In actuality, there are key differences between adoption and foster care that you should be aware of in order to make the best decision for you and your baby. It is important to understand these differences, so that you know what to expect if and when you decide to begin the adoption process.
Adoption Choices of Kansas wants you to know the differences between adoption and foster care, which is why we have provided this overview comparing them. We hope this serves as a helpful starting point for you as you decide on the path that is right for you and your baby.
You Control the Adoption Process
A major way that sets adoption apart from foster care is that you have complete control over the entire adoption process. You get to select the adoptive parents or parent based on whatever criteria you set. Also, you have the final say over how much contact you want with the adoptive family before and after placement by choosing to pursue either an open, semi-open, or closed adoption. By having full control over your adoption journey, you can feel confident knowing exactly what kind of home environment you are placing the baby in with an adoptive family you can trust.
In the foster care system, the state is the main decision maker throughout the placement process. If you opt to pursue foster care, the state will determine who will care for your child. The state can place the child from one foster home into another as often as it deems necessary. It is also within the state’s rights to return your child to your care if it determines that will yield the best outcomes for the child.
Parental Rights in Adoption and Foster Care
As you progress through the adoption process, you have full rights to your child at all times until you sign away your parental rights and he or she is placed with the adoptive family you choose for them. Once placement occurs, you completely transfer your parental rights over to the adoptive family, which is always the objective of adoption. At any point during the adoption process up until placement, you have the right to change your mind on the type of adoption you pursue, as well as the adoptive family who will raise the baby. As long as you have not yet signed over your parental rights, you can even choose not to go through with the adoption.
When your child is in foster care, the extent of your parental rights can vary widely as the long-term objective of foster care is not the same in every case. Although the foster parents tend to your child’s daily needs, you will likely still have rights to your child. You can exercise these rights by deciding how your child receives medical care, how your child is educated, whether the child attends religious services, and so on. However, at any time, the state can terminate these rights and assume them while your child is still in foster care.
Permanency of Adoption
As soon as you relinquish your parental rights to the adoptive family, the adoption is final and can’t be undone. While you will no longer have a say in how the child is raised after this point, you will also be relieved of any responsibilities toward the child. When you relinquish your parental rights, the child is fully integrated into his or her new family. That does not necessarily mean you will not be able to contact your child after placement. If you pursued an open or semi-open adoption, you can still exchange photos, letters, phone calls, or even have in-person visits with the child and his or her adoptive family. Although this may be a difficult time for you, know that through your selfless act, you are reaching your goal of providing the baby you carried with a home you are confident will allow them to reach their full potential.
Foster care is intended to be temporary, which is why you still often retain parental rights while your child is in foster care. The hope is that the child is able to return home when the biological parent or parents are in a position to provide a safe and stable home environment. However, the state may decide that it is in the best interest of the child to not return home. In these cases, the child is put for adoption until a new family welcomes them into their lives.
Differences between Adoption and Foster Care in Kansas
Deciding to place a child for adoption or into foster care is a highly personal decision that requires careful consideration of your needs and your child’s best interests. Understanding the differences between adoption and foster care will allow you to make a decision that’s right for you so you can be at peace with your choice.
Adoption Choices of Kansas is here for you during this time of discernment and can help you explore your options. However, we will not be able to offer your further services if you opt to place your child into foster care since we are an adoption agency. If you decide to pursue adoption, we will work very hard to ensure that you have a successful adoption journey.
Meet the Author: Mary DeStefano is an Ohio native currently living in northern Virginia and works in the litigation consulting industry where she has experience in antitrust, product liability, and mass torts matters. She holds a B.A. in Economics (‘15) and an M.A. in Applied Economics (‘16) from the University of Cincinnati.
Mary finds great meaning in wielding the written word to develop impactful narratives and to help people stay informed. In her spare time, Mary can be found beachcombing and going on other adventures with her dog along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. She also has an affinity for antiquing and loves a good 80’s movie marathon.