How Is Adoption Different Than Foster Care?

Many people assume that adoption and foster care are the same thing, because they both involve placing the child with another family, but they are very different.

Foster care is the removal of a child from their home by Child Protective Services into the home of another caregiver or family member, due to the risk of their safety (abuse, neglect, drug use, etc). Foster care has the possibility of reuniting the family and it is not permanent. Child Protective Services runs your State foster care program, because it is a government-run system.

Adoption, on the other hand, is when a birth parent transfers their parental rights, to adoptive parents of their choice, for the well-being of the child. This is a permanent decision that the birth parent has control over. Birth parents are the ones who make an adoption plan for their baby.

Choice. If Child Protective Services takes a child into foster care, the birth parent does not have say in this process: when the baby is taken, who takes the baby, where the baby will go, how much the birth parent hears about the baby after they are in the foster home, etc. Birth parents do, however, have the choice to work with the State in an attempt to regain custody. If the birth parent chooses adoption at any time before the baby is taken by CPS, she can then work with her pregnancy counselor to decide how the baby is picked up from the hospital, what adoptive home the baby goes to, and more. Lifeline encourages the birth parent to choose what qualities are important to them in families looking to adopt, and then the birth parent gets to choose the family they place their child with, if they so choose. Birth parents also get to choose if they want things like an open adoption plan, visits with the family, etc.

Parenting Plans. While having a child removed and placed into foster care is very difficult, it is a temporary plan. Birth parents can have time to become stable and, if they follow the steps of the Child Protective Services case plan required of them, they can regain custody of their child. That is the hope and goal of foster care. If a birth parent does not desire to follow that case plan or parent in the future, adoption might be better option to consider when faced with the possibility of foster care. Adoption is also a parenting plan, because it is birth parent choosing long-term parents for their child when they place their baby for adoption. Either way, the birth mother has the option to make a good, safe parenting plan for her child.

If you think Child Protective Services may place your child in foster care, it does not mean that you need to place your baby for adoption. It is important that you are counseled on all of your options and feel empowered to make the right choice for you and your baby. Our pregnancy counselors are trained in helping you process your options with all information available, so you can feel confident about your choice.

If you are pregnant and considering adoption or foster care for your baby, talk with a pregnancy counselor who can help you gather all the information you need to make your decision. We can help you, whether you just found out you need unplanned pregnancy options or you have already had your baby and are considering a last minute adoption plan instead of CPS foster care.

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