Adoption and Foster Care: How are They Different?

Adoption and foster care vary in many different ways. While they are similar in that each is a way for a family to welcome a child as one of their own and help a child in need, they are not the same. They differ in the permanence and time commitments of each. Foster care is a temporary situation, while adoption is permanent. In addition, the goals of foster care and adoption are different. Legally, the outcomes of each also are quite different. And finally, the training involved and preparation for each is slightly different. If you are considering adoption or fostering, you are potentially making a huge difference in the life of a child in need and your own life.

Adoption and Foster Care: How are They Different From Each Other?

Permanence

The main difference between adoption and foster care is the levels of permanence. Foster care is meant to be a temporary situation where you take care of a child in need for a short time. In contrast, adopting a child makes that child legally your own. You will raise them for the rest of their life. In fostering, you might end up deciding to adopt your foster child, however, it is not always the case.

Goal

The reason why there is a difference between adoption and foster care in terms of permanence is that the goals of each are different. The goal of adoption is to find a child that you will legally make a part of your family forever. They will be your child in every sense of the word permanently. However, the goal of foster care is to take care of a child in need until they can be reunited with their birth parents. While some foster parents adopt their children, the actual goal is to take care of them until their parents are well enough to have them come back to live in their home.

Legal Rights

Another difference between adoption and foster care is the legal rights of the parents. In a foster care situation, the child’s legal guardian usually retains all parental rights. This is typically the case, but not always. In contrast, an adoptive parent becomes a child’s legal parent.

Training

Finally, the preparation involved is another difference between the two. With each, you’ll need to do a home study and prepare your house to bring home a child. You’ll likely be assigned a caseworker to work within either situation who will help prepare you for the journey ahead. There might be more training involved with foster care than adoption. This is because children in foster care sometimes have emotional and physical needs due to past trauma. It can also be incredibly expensive to adopt, especially if you opt for a private adoption agency.

There are several differences between these two avenues of building a family. Deciding which ones will work for you should take time and careful consideration. Foster care is meant to be a temporary situation while adoption is permanent. This is because the goal of foster care is to reunite the child with their parent while the goal of adoption is to become the legal parent of a child. The training and cost involved with each can also vary. If you’re considering either one, consult with parents you know who have been through each process. They can give you plenty of insight and advice and will be a source of support when you do make your decision. Whichever you decide to do, you’ll be making a huge difference in the life of a child and opening up your heart to expanding your family.

Handling the Stress of Adoption in a Healthy Way

Handling the significant stress of adoption can feel overwhelming sometimes. Adoption is a long and sometimes painful process for parents. However, the end result is an incredible relationship with your future child. Before you even begin the process of adoption you need to set reasonable expectations. Talk to other adoptive parents about their experiences. Seeing a therapist or counselor is a great way to get a handle on a stressful time in your life. And finally, focus on the big motivation for why you want to adopt in the first place. Keep your goal in mind of bringing a child into your family and let that mental image help get you through the tough times. It will be worth it in the end!

Handling the Stress of Adoption in a Healthy Way: The Big Picture

Set Reasonable Expectations

The stress of adoption is easier to manage if you set reasonable expectations at the beginning of the process. Do your research and talk to adoptive parents. Learn what the adoptive process entails. Expect hiccups. Adoption can take a very long time. It can also include some heartbreak. It’s easier to handle disappointment if you do not have the expectation that the process will be smooth and easy.

Talk to a Seasoned Pro

The stress of adoption can feel overwhelming at times. When you are feeling truly run-down, speak to somebody that has been where you are. Find a network of adoptive parents in your city and connect with them. Reach out to them when you’re feeling low because chances are they know how you feel. You can also ask your agency to recommend other adoptive parents for you to reach out to. Facebook has plenty of options for groups for adoptive parents as well.

See a Professional

Seeking the advice of a professional therapist can be very helpful when dealing with the stress of adoption. A trained counselor can help you find coping mechanisms for your stress. They can also teach you techniques to help you calm down when you are feeling panicked or upset. They can also just be a sympathetic ear and sounding board for you when you are feeling down.

Focus on the Why

Finally, when the stress of adoption gets to be too much, think about your “why.” This is the reason that you decided to adopt in the first place. Maybe it’s always been a dream to adopt a child in need. Maybe you cannot have children of your own. Or maybe you feel a calling to add to your family without wanting to go through pregnancy again. Whatever the reasons are for you, keep that mental image of why you picked up the phone to reach out to an adoption agency in the first place clear in your head. Imagine your future child and the life that you’ll build together.

Adoption can be a truly rewarding process to go through, but it is not a quick or easy one by any means. The stress of adoption can feel overwhelming at times. Set reasonable expectations at the outset so that you aren’t disappointed when the inevitable hiccups happen. Talk to other adoptive parents when you are feeling low because they probably have been in a similar boat too. Speak to a therapist if you are overwhelmed to learn coping mechanisms for stress. And finally, keep your eyes on the prize. Imagine the beautiful life you are about to start building with your future son or daughter.

Budgeting for Adoption: Helpful Tips

Budgeting for adoption can seem daunting because the process can be very expensive in America. However, the ultimate goal is well worth the costs. If you are wanting to adopt, investigate all the costs that will be involved. Decide on a budget goal that you feel is reachable. Look into options for financial help like grants, loans, and employee benefits. And finally, always prepare for some unexpected expenses. The adoption process can be lengthy and expensive, but don’t let the cost deter you from completing your family.

Budgeting for Adoption: Helpful Tips to Reach Your Goal

Research Costs for Adoption

The first step to budgeting for adoption is to do your homework. Explore options for different agencies that you can use. Figure out what the total cost will be of the adoption process from start to finish. Shop around different agencies too and get quotes for what their fees are. Don’t necessarily go with the least expensive option though. You want to make sure that it’s a high-quality agency that will help you through the process.

Decide on a Budget

When budgeting for adoption, you’ll need to decide on a budget that you are comfortable with. Figure out if it’s best to go through state agencies or international. You might investigate agencies run through churches as well. When speaking with adoption agencies, ask about any hidden costs. Things like maternal expenses for the laboring mom, legal fees, and agency fees. You want to pick an agency that is fully transparent and upfront about all of its costs.

Look into Financial Options

When budgeting for adoption, investigate all of your options. You might have employee benefits for adoptive parents. Take advantage of the Adoption Tax Credit. There are also grants provided for adoptive families that you can apply for. You can also take out a personal loan to help pay for adoption expenses. Speak to a financial planner so that they can help you take advantage of any help you can find with subsidizing the costs of an adoption.

Anticipate Unexpected Costs

As with all things, adoption can come with its share of surprises. Therefore, it’s important to anticipate unexpected costs when budgeting for adoption. You might find that the cost of living and healthcare in some states is higher than in others. If you choose a pregnant mother in a more expensive area, or if her health insurance doesn’t cover the costs of birth, your expenses could increase. In addition, sometimes there are adoption plans that fall through at the last second. In these situations, it’s difficult to recoup all of the fees you’ve paid upfront. And of course, the cost of actually bringing a baby home and caring for it can surprise expectant parents sometimes.

Budgeting for adoption is important because the process can be quite expensive. However, if you speak to other adoptive parents you’ll find that the cost is well worth it. Investigate potential agencies and try to get an estimate of overall costs well in advance. Decide on a budget that you are comfortable with and choose an agency from there. Take advantage of tax credits, grants, employee benefits, and other helpful avenues to help cover the cost. And finally, prepare for some unexpected expenses. As with all things in life, adoption can come with its share of surprises. While the cost of adoption can be difficult for families to wrap their heads around, it’s important to not let that deter you from your goal. There are many options available to help you make your dream come true of welcoming a new child into your family.

Different Types of Adoption: Pros and Cons

Deciding to adopt a child is a huge decision, but a very exciting one! But the different types of adoption options can be overwhelming. You can choose to have an open adoption or closed adoption. There is also the option of semi-open adoption. Each has benefits and drawbacks. These will help you determine which is the best fit for your family.

Different Types of Adoption: Benefits and Drawbacks

Open Adoption

Open adoption is one of the types of adoption you can choose from. This form of adoption means that you and the birth parents will be in contact. For example, everybody knows everybody else’s identities. The amount of contact between parents can vary based on what everybody wants. However, one of the drawbacks is that there can be boundary issues. Therefore, it’s best to establish clear ideas about your future relationship at the start. One positive of open adoption is that your child can know both sets of parents. Also, you’ll be able to find out more about your child’s medical history.

Closed Adoption

Another type of adoption you can choose is a closed adoption. You and the birth parents will not have any contact at all. You’ll only find out information about the birth parents that is non-identifying. In addition, all your contact will be through a third-party mediator. One of the pros of this is that you won’t have to worry about anybody interfering with your parenting. Another positive is that if the child is from an abusive or dangerous situation, you will never have to worry about them having contact. However, you won’t know much about the child’s medical history, and the decision is permanent.

Semi-Open Adoption

One final option is a semi-open adoption. Of the types of adoptions, this is a little bit of a mix of all. In a semi-open adoption, you can have limited contact with birth parents. This would be through a third-party attorney or mediator. You can exchange mail or photos but you probably won’t know each other’s full identities. Or addresses. A positive of this is that you’ll have more access to your child’s medical history. But a negative is that it can be difficult to move on for the birth parents. Your child can also have some confusion about everybody’s roles.

The three types of adoption each have pros and cons. You can choose an open adoption, closed adoption, or semi-open. Whichever option you choose, you’ll want to discuss first with your attorney. You’re making a huge decision for your family. Whichever you choose needs to feel right for you.

How-to Ask the Right Questions About Adoption

Whether you are unable to have kids of your own, or want to provide a home for a child who does not have one, adoption is a great option for many people. When looking into adoption, there is a lot to of things to consider. The adoption process can be confusing and overwhelming at times. This is a big decision for any individual or a family to make. Therefore, it is important to make sure you understand the the process from start to finish. Make sure you know how to ask the right questions about adoption.

How-to Ask the Right Questions About Adoption: Understand the Process

Adoption Types

First, you will need to know about the different types of adoptions. This is one of the first big questions about adoptions you should ask when starting the process. Children can be adopted internationally, through private agencies, the welfare system or even existing relationships. Understanding the different types of adoptions will help you decide which route you may want to go. There may be differences in requirements, rules and costs associated with all of the different types of adoptions.

If you choose a private or independent adoption, you will also need to understand the difference in an open and closed adoption. The difference in these are whether the birth parents want to select the adoptive parents, or even meet them. They could also choose to maintain an ongoing relationship with the adoptive family.

Cost

Another one of the important questions about adoption is about cost. Adoptions can be expensive, so you should find out how much money you will need to save up. Find out how long you have to pay the fees and ask about different payment options. Do not forget to find out about grants or tax credits to help offset adoption costs.

Preparation

When it comes to adoption, there may be some preparation work you need to do. This is another one of the questions about adoption that you should ask. There is not going to be a one-size-fits-all answer. However, there could be financial preparations you need to make. Also, you may need to find a living situation that is going to be appropriate for raising a child. Learn about the different legal, financial, medical, developmental, and behavioral issues related to adoption.

Adoption can be an amazing step in growing your family and providing a loving home for a child. Since it is also a big step, make sure that you ask all of the right questions about adoption. This way you know if this process is right for you.

How-to Handle Adopting Multiple Children: Siblings

You may feel a calling for adopting multiple children. This could come in the form of adopting siblings or just multiple waiting children. Adding one child, let alone more than one, into your family will bring many changes. Here are some steps to take while going through the process of adopting several children.

How-to Handle Adopting Multiple Children: Things to Consider

Why Multiples?

In some cases, a child in the foster system may have had their brother or sister as their only constant in their life. They will have had their entire world turned upside down at some point in their life, sometimes more than once. They will be separated from their parents and everything they know. Their sibling will be someone who can relate to what they are going through and understand them. As you can see, adopting multiple children by adopting siblings will help to keep these brothers and sisters together with someone they have a bond with.

Around 2/3 of all kids in foster care in the US have a sibling in foster care as well. Unfortunately, many of these children will end up bring separated from their brothers and sisters. The most common reason for their separation is because foster care workers can not find a forever home for all of the children together. By deciding to adopt siblings, you will be keeping this family together.

Things to Consider

One of the things to consider when adopting multiple children is if you are ready for this commitment. This will be a very big change, and you need to make sure that you are ready. Assess your home to make sure it is suitable for bringing multiple children into it. Really dig deep and make sure that if you are married or in a relationship, that you are both ready for this. This whole experience will have to be a team effort to make it work.

Another thing to do is to do your own research. There are websites that go over things you should know about adopting multiples. You can also connect with families who have adopted siblings on the AdoptUSKids Facebook page.

Adopting can be a difficult, yet rewarding process. You take this to the next level when thinking about adopting multiple children. Keeping siblings together could be very beneficial to your adoptive child, and can be one way of growing your family.

Difficult Conversations: Adoptive Parents & Kids

As an adoptive parent, there will likely be a time you may have to have some difficult conversations with the child you adopted. These topics could be as difficult as poverty, criminal behavior, abandonment, abuse or neglect.There is not going to be a perfect script or magical way to make these conversations go smoothly. However, there are some tips you can use to try and help you through these talks. 

Difficult Conversations: How to Handle Them

Honesty

Your child’s difficult story may be hard for you to handle or grasp. Any hardships they have faced will be upsetting to you. This may want to make you want to skirt around the truth when they ask questions. The best thing to do is be honest. You may think you are protecting them, but one day they will likely find out the truth and be upset that you hid it. This is especially true with so much information being on the internet. During difficult conversations, it is best to just be honest. 

Openness

Be open to having difficult conversations as much as your children want to. This will take time, and may reoccur many times. These stories are part of them. They may have images, memories, trauma and fear deep inside of them that may never go away. Because of this, they may need to keep talking about it with you over a long period of time. After a while, these conversations may start to drain you, but for the child’s sake, keep having these conversations. Keep being willing to listen. 

Compassion

During these difficult conversations, and always, show compassion. Your child may have a lot of healing to do, and your compassion will help them on that journey. As mentioned before, it likely will be a long road, but show plenty of love along the way. Be sympathetic towards their suffering, what they went through and are currently feeling.

Listen

Sometimes, it’s best to just listen. Do not try and interrupt or counter anything that they’re saying. Let them know it is okay for them to talk to you. Sometimes, as adults, we need to vent. Your children should be afforded the same thing. Especially when getting into difficult conversations, just allow them to speak. 

While no one likes difficult conversations, they are bound to come up after you have adopted a child. These tips can help guide you during these conversations. Remember to be honest, open, compassionate and listen.

Starting the Adoption Process: Considerations

There are many things to consider and think about when starting the adoption process. If you can feel good with the answers to these considerations, you are on the right track. The decision to adopt can be very exciting and emotional, so it’s important to make sure it’s right for you.

Starting the Adoption Process: What to Consider

Public or Private Agency

First, when starting the adoption process, you will need to determine if you want to go with a public or private agency? Public child welfare agencies are run by the government. Each county has a department of social services who are responsible for kids who are in the foster system. These children may become eligible for adoption if they are not able to be reunited with their families. Since it is a government run program, the process can slow and there may be a lot of hoops to jump through. However, these adoptions are usually going to cost less that those with a private agency. 

On the other hand, private agencies are usually registered as non-profit organizations. These adoptions are usually more expensive. However, the applicant may have more control over the type of infant or child they adopt. With private agencies, the process can oftentimes be a bit smoother as well. 

Child Type

Another thing to consider when starting the adoption process is what type of child you want to adopt. Start thinking about what about what personalities and characteristics you would be best suited for parenting. Keep in mind that adopting a child is more for the child’s benefit instead of yours. Think about things such as if you would do well parenting a child with mental, physical or emotional challenges? What about a child who has a sibling? Do you have a preference of gender or age? These are all questions you will really need to think hard about and come up with honest answers. 

Patience

Some children, especially those who are ages 5 and up, can have a more difficult time trusting and bonding with new adults. You will have to be patient, as it may take the child a while to be unsure about your commitment to them as well as you in general. It may take them a while to show you love back. This is just another thing to consider when starting the adoption process. 

You will also have to be willing to go through many pre and post adoption placement counseling. Are you patient enough to cooperate with all of these parts of the process?

Resources

Raising a child requires a lot of resources. This includes financial resources such as money to buy clothes, food, toys, shelter and even saving for college. It also requires an abundance of love, time, energy and involvement. When starting the adoption process, you must ask yourself if you (and your partner, if you have one) are ready to give of these resources?

A strong family or community support is another important resource to have. Will your friends and family be supportive of your new family unit? Does your community have the appropriate resources (good schools, safe environment) for your new family?

Other Major Life Events

Have you had a major life event in the last year? These can include experiencing a death of someone close, separating from or losing a partner, moving far away, or any other big change. If you have had a major life event, wait a little bit, and then re-evaluate. Adoption is a major life event itself, so don’t couple it with another big life event. Let everything settle down before starting the adoption process.

Reasons to Adopt: Expanding Your Family

The reasons to adopt will differ among families, but they ultimately come down to wanting to add a child to their family. There are many reasons a that a couple or individual may choose to adopt. Adoption can be a lengthy, yet rewarding process. 

Reasons to Adopt: Why You May Consider Adoption

Infertility

Some people are unable to have their own biological children. Infertility is a common one of the reasons to adopt. Some people try to have a child naturally, but are unable to conceive. Sometimes, they try fertility treatments, which could fail as well. They may consider adoption as a way to have a child, even though they are unable to have their own biological child. 

Single Parents

In other cases, single parents may want a child but not have a partner to have a child with. This is another one of the reasons to adopt. Adoption does not require you to have a spouse or partner. This way, a single parent can have a child without having to go through fertility treatments.

Same-Sex Parents

In the same way, same-sex couples are unable to have a biologic child that would have the genes of both parents. They may have to go through fertility treatments in order to have a child as well. This brings up another one of the reasons to adopt, as this could open another option for having a child.

Medical Concerns

Sometimes, medical issues prevent a couple from being able to have a child of their own. Other times, the fear of passing on a genetic disease or gene could be one of the reasons to adopt. In both of these situations, adoption may be the best option for medical concerns that parents may have.

Give a Child a Loving Home

Another one of the reasons to adopt is to provide a child with a stable, loving home. There are children domestically and around the world who live in an environment that may not be safe, loving or supportive. 

On the other hand, sometimes parents are in situations where they are just not able to provide or care for a child. Some people decide to adopt because they want to give these children a supportive home and love them as their own. 

These are just some of the many reasons to adopt. There are children in the United States, abroad and in the foster system who are up for adoption. Whatever your reasons are for starting the journey towards adoption, make sure you weigh all options and do plenty of research. Adoption is a wonderful thing, but not something to take lightly.