Foster care and adoption both provide an opportunity for families to open their homes and hearts to children. While either option is a significant undertaking, they have some notable differences. Here, we will examine the similarities and differences between foster care and adoption.

How a Child Enters the Process 

Children enter foster care and adoption differently. Kids are placed in foster care when they have been removed from their parents, typically due to abuse or neglect. Adoption, on the other hand, is a choice the biological parents make. One exception to this rule is children who become available to adopt after being placed in foster care, which we will discuss later in this article.

Guardianship and Custody 

In foster care, the parents retain parental rights. This means they can make decisions regarding education, medical treatments and religious involvement. In adoption, the rights of the biological parents are completely dissolved, and the adoptive family gains custody and guardianship rights of the child.

Family Selection 

In adoption, the birth parents typically choose an adoptive family for their child. However, in foster care situations, the biological parents do not decide who will care for their child/children.

Length of Stay 

While foster care can eventually lead to adoption, it is intended to be a temporary situation. The goal is to reunite the child with his or her biological parents. A foster child may stay with you for weeks, months or years. Adoption is a permanent placement. Once an adoption is final, the child stays with that family indefinitely.


Foster care parents receive a monthly stipend to cover the child’s basic needs. Adoption offers no such assistance and requires out-of-pocket expenses, including adoption fees and the cost of raising the child.


Both options require extensive background checks of potential parents. Foster care parents must also complete training courses and a licensing study to become licensed foster care parents. Parents who adopt are required to take educational classes and complete a home study.

Adopting From Foster Care 

The process of adopting a child from foster care is different from other types of adoption. Most children enter foster care while their biological parents complete the state’s requirements for the children to return home. However, about half of these children are never returned to their parents and become available for adoption. Many of them are adopted by other family members or their foster care parents. There are some important factors to consider when adopting from foster care: 

Age of the Child

Infants occasionally become available for adoption through foster care, but the children are typically older. The average age is 8 years old. 

Trauma Training

Many of the children in the foster care system have experienced some type of trauma. Because of this, specific training is offered to parents who adopt from foster care. This helps them to understand the child and his/her history. 

Service Provider

Parents adopting from foster care usually work with a public or private agency that has been contracted through the state to provide services.


There is generally little or no cost associated with adopting a child from foster care.  


Foster care and adoption both offer substantial benefits for the families and children involved. For more information, contact us today or call our Sarasota, Florida, adoption professionals at (941) 210-4763.


Author: Destiny Adoption Services

Destiny Adoption Services is proud to support and guide birth parents and adoptive families on the journey of adoption. We’re a state licensed nonprofit adoption agency with four decades of adoption experience, and our professional team of experts includes moms, adoptive moms and birth mothers who provide compassion combined with trusted resources and skills.