Both becoming a foster parent and an adoptive parent are amazing things to do, and you will be providing children with the loving home that they deserve. Both will make a positive impact on a child’s life and allow you to build your family unit, and for all these reasons, it’s worth looking into both fostering and adopting as options for you if you are ready to start or expand your family. However, there are some key differences between adopting and fostering that you should know about to help you decide which is a better fit for your circumstances.

Parental Roles

When you are a foster parent, you are providing that parental figure for the child in your care, and you may be appointed as their legal guardian while they are with you, but this is only temporary. Ultimately, the birth parents of your foster child are still legally their parents and have those parental rights. Usually, social services will be working with the parents intending to reunite them with their children at a later date when things have become more stable and previous issues that led to foster care are resolved. Therefore, you may only be caring for your foster child for a temporary period, although there are longer-term foster care situations.

When you adopt, you will be taking on the legal parental rights of that child. The birth parents aren’t usually involved once the adoption is completed, although this is something that will be arranged between you, them, and the adoption agency to suit your circumstances. When you have adopted a child, they will be a part of your family for life and under your care permanently until they are adults, and even then, you’ll still be legally their parent.

Different Approval Processes

You’ll also have to go through different approval processes for adoption and foster care. For the latter, you will need to be at least 21 years old, have a spare bedroom in your home, be in good health, you will need a recommendation from a social worker, and you’ll be expected to attend foster carer training sessions. You can find out more about becoming a foster parent and this process online or by speaking to your local fostering agency.

If you want to adopt, there is a two-part process. You’ll also need to be at least 21, but you’ll also have to have lived in the country for a minimum of one year to have a permanent address. Once the initial process has been approved, you can move on to part two, which is an extension of the first assessment where further checks will be carried out, and you will be prepared for the adoption application process once you have been approved.

Waiting Time

When you have been approved as a foster parent, you’ll likely get your first foster child placement quickly as there is a higher demand for foster carers. When you’re adopting, this process can take longer while the search for a suitable match takes place. This waiting time isn’t an issue for a lot of people, but be prepared to be waiting for months or perhaps even years if you are planning to adopt.

Both fostering and adopting are amazing things to do, but these are some of the key differences you can expect if you are considering both options.