The difference between foster care and adoption is: foster care is meant to be temporary, while adoption is permanent.
As we noted in our Foster FAQ, “foster care is the temporary placement of children outside their own homes, [which] occurs because of parenting issues, neglect, or other family problems.”
Adoption involves legally assuming the parental rights and responsibilities from a child’s biological parent or parents, and occurs only after a court terminates the biological parents’ rights.
But you may have heard the term foster-to-adopt, a process by which foster parents adopt the child (or children) in their care. While it’s a relatively small minority of foster children who ever become available for adoption, many of those children are adopted by their foster parents.
Fostering Before Adopting
There are many potential benefits of fostering children before adopting, whether adopting from foster care or not.
In the case of the former, foster parents and the foster children in their care have the chance to assess whether adoption is in everyone’s best interest.
Additionally, foster parents who are considering adoption potentially have the chance to:
- Gain experience parenting, including parenting children who have experienced trauma or neglect.
- Demonstrate their suitability for an adoptive placement.
Moreover, if future adoptive parents are licensed to provide foster care and an adoptive child lives in their home, it may reduce the amount of time before an adoption can be finalized.
Licensing Requirements for Fostering and Adopting
It’s important to note that the licensing requirements for fostering and adopting are not necessarily the same.
For example, in Tennessee, foster parents are “dually approved to adopt.” So, according to the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, Tennessee foster parents “have the first option of adopting a child they have fostered, or another child who has become eligible for adoption.”
On the other hand, North Carolina—another state in which Omni Visions operates—does not have a dual licensure process.
In other words, in North Carolina there are two separate approval processes for foster care and adoption, with the differences highlighted by the state’s Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) on its how to foster and/or adopt page. For one, the NCDHHS notes how the home assessment for foster home licensing is distinctly different from an adoption home study.
But even if you’re interested in the idea of fostering-to-adopt, it’s always worth remembering that with foster care the goal is to reunite children with their birth families.
Or, as the Kentucky Foster Adoptive Caregiver Exchange System puts it, “Three out of four children do go home and it is important for foster parents to help the child successfully reunite with his or her birth parents while helping the child during a tumultuous time.”
Even when a child’s goal changes to adoption, when it comes to selecting an adoptive family, “the best interest of the child is always of the utmost importance.”
Having said that, many adoptions in Kentucky are foster parent adoptions, and Omni frequently helps parents through the foster-to-adopt process via our foster-to-adopt locations in Tennessee, Kentucky and North Carolina.
Ready to Begin the Application and Approval Process?
To learn more about fostering-to-adopt, spend some time reviewing our foster-to-adopt FAQ. If you’re interested in becoming a foster parent in Tennessee, Kentucky or North Carolina, we encourage you to complete our information request form.
For more than two decades Omni has specialized in providing training and support to caregivers so foster children can reach their fullest potential. Together we can provide a brighter future for our children. Give us a call toll-free at one of our local offices.