When discussing a woman’s three legal pregnancy options (parenting, abortion, and adoption), staff sometimes find that either our client or someone close to her thinks poorly of adoption because of a negative perception of the foster care system. Whether you have had an unfortunate foster care experience, or know someone who has, you should not confuse infant adoption and foster care.
Major differences between foster care and adoption are permanency, parental rights, and who controls the process.
Foster Care = temporary. Foster care’s goal is to temporarily provide a home for children whose parents are not properly caring for them, but desire to eventually. Even though some parents are unable to resume custody, children are not intended to be in foster care long-term.
Adoption = permanent.
Foster Care = birth parents have parental rights. They often sign forms requiring parental consent and make medical, educational, and religious decisions.
Adoption = adoptive parents have parental rights. They are responsible for everything for the adopted child.
Initiation and Control
Perhaps, the most significant difference to a potential birth parent is that involving initiation and control. With infant adoption, the birth mom initiates the process by locating a possible adoptive family, usually with an adoption professional’s help. The birth parents then interview and select their child’s forever family. After birth, the birth parents voluntarily terminate their parental rights. Except for abiding by state adoption laws, the government is only minimally involved when all interested parties agree on the terms of the adoption.
The birth mom also controls the level of contact with the adoptive family by choosing either an open, semi-open, or closed adoption. She decides what she wants her time at the hospital to look like. For more information about what the expectant mother determines in the adoption process, see our blog post Why Women Choose Adoption.
Want more information about open, semi-open, or closed adoption? http://www.theadoptionnews.com/2010/10/open-and-closed-adoptions/
With foster care, a court initiates the process after an investigation regarding abuse or neglect. Biological parents do not control their child’s placement and only meet the foster parents under the court’s conditions. The court determines the type and frequency of contact based on the child’s best interest.
Voluntary Placement in Foster Care
In some emergency situations, a parent can temporarily request foster care for her baby or older child. You could have control over where your child lives and may choose to have frequent and extended visitation. Some reasons why you might choose this short-term guardianship option are: homelessness, job training, domestic violence, drug dependency, or illness. This option is not available for abused or neglected children. It is important that you talk with a lawyer before making any decision to place your child.
*Legacy is not an adoption agency; we assist women in exploring their options and connecting them with resources and experts in the areas of adoption, parenting, childbirth, etc. If you need to discuss your pregnancy options, please call us!