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Foster to Adopt


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At NYAP, our primary focus for the children, youth and families we serve through foster care, is reunifying the children with their family of origin, a relative or through kinship care.


For whatever reason, when permanent placement is not possible with the child's family, a relative or family friend in their community, NYAP offers foster parents the opportunity to adopt the child or youth in their care.


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Differences Between Foster Parenting and Adopting

There are a number of significant differences between foster care and adoption for the foster/adoptive family involved, even when a child remains in the same household. Compared to foster care, adoption brings the following changes for the parents:

  • Full legal responsibility for a child. Legal responsibility was held by the agency during the time the child was in foster care.

  • Full financial responsibility for the child. Even if the family receives adoption assistance or a subsidy on behalf of the child, families are still responsible for financial obligations such as childcare and extracurricular activities.

  • Full decision-making responsibility. While the child was in foster care, decision-making was shared with the agency and birth parent. When the child is adopted, adoptive parents take on this full responsibility.

  • Attachment differences. The family is no longer working with the agency to help the child reunify with his/her parents; rather, they are now working to incorporate the child as a permanent member of their own family.

Benefits of Foster Parent Adoption

Adoption by the foster family has the potential to benefit not only the child being adopted, but also the foster family and the child welfare agency. There are a number of reasons that a child’s foster parents may be the best adoptive parents for that child:

  • Foster parents have a greater knowledge of a child’s experiences prior to placement and know what behaviors to expect from the child.

  • If they have sufficient background information about what happened to a child before this placement, some knowledge of how children generally respond to such experiences, and extensive information about this child’s specific behavior patterns, the foster family is better able to understand and respond to the child’s needs in a positive and appropriate way.

  • Foster parents usually have a more realistic view and fewer fears about the child’s birth family, because they often have met and know them as real people with real problems.

  • Foster parents have a better understanding of their role and relationship with the agency—and perhaps a relationship with their caseworker (if the same worker stays throughout the duration of the child’s placement).


Benefits for the Child

The biggest benefit of foster parent adoption for a child is the fact that the child does not have to move to a new family. Even very young infants may grieve the loss of the familiar sights, sounds, smells, and touch of a family when they must move.


Staying in the same placement means the child will not leave familiar people and situations, such as:

  • Familiar foster parents and family members

  • School, classroom, classmates, and teachers

  • Family Pets

  • Friends and Family Friends

  • Sports teams, music lessons, church groups, extracurricular activities

  • Their own bedroom, house, or apartment


Since the foster family may have met or cared for a child during the child’s visits with the birth family, the foster family is better able to help the child remember important people from the past and maintain important connections.


Foster families who decide to pursue adoption should inform themselves as much as possible through community supports and resources and work with their agency to ensure a smooth transition for the child and themselves.


Successful foster parent adoptions are the result of a mutual decision by the foster parents and the agency about what is best for a specific child.

This factsheet for families summarizes what foster parents should consider while deciding whether to adopt their foster child or youth. While this factsheet does not address the specifics of how to adopt, it provides information on the differences between foster care and adoption, and it explores some of the factors foster parents should consider before deciding to adopt.

Series: Factsheets for Families

Author(s): Child Welfare Information Gateway

Year Published: 2012


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