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Birth Parents: Foster Care Placement vs. Adoption

processEvery year in the United States, about half of all pregnancies are unplanned. And by age 45, more than half of all American women have experienced an unintended pregnancy. When confronted with an unplanned pregnancy, birth parents are often left with more questions than answers. What’s next? Am I ready to be a parent? Can I do this? Is adoption an option? What about foster care?

It is completely normal to feel nervous, scared, overwhelmed, or even angry at the situation. “It’s normal and healthy to allow yourself to feel this,” says clinical psychologist Shoshana Bennett, PhD. “Anger and shock could be something you’re feeling, and that’s perfectly fine to feel that way.” You shouldn’t feel guilty about your negative feelings, but you should talk to someone and explore your feelings further. Unplanned pregnancy isn’t “something you wrap your head around overnight,” says Ann Douglas, author of The Mother of All Pregnancy Books. “You need to actively work through what you’re feeling.”

Often, just talking to someone can help, and the adoption specialists at Adoption Makes Family are always ready to listen. We are a non-profit (501-C3) licensed adoption agency based in Maryland.

Call Us Now at (410) 683-2100

Our experienced professionals are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help and counsel you so that you make the best decisions for your future. We can talk you through your options and help you make the best decision for you and your child.

“After thinking it through and determining the pros and cons of all options, women should succeed at wrapping their minds around the subject and shape a decision that’s most convenient for them,” says Elizabeth Danish, HealthGuidance.

Learning More About Foster Care & Adoption

Adoption and foster care can both provide a loving home for a child, but there are some differences.

Foster Care

“Foster care is frequently divided into two categories,” says Tanya Brodd, Foster Children’s Rights Coalition: kinship care and community care.

  1. Kinship Care: “The first choice for most children is to be placed in a kinship home,” says Brodd. “This is a home with some connection to the family – usually grandparents or other relatives.” Today, more than six million children in the United States (roughly one in 12 children) live in households where grandparents or other relatives are the primary caregivers, according to the Iowa Foster & Adoptive Parents Association (IFAPA). “Kinship families have to meet certain guidelines like background checks and home inspection before being approved to provide care,” says Brodd. And even then, support is minimal. Because of this, “many kinship families decide to become fully licensed for foster care in order to receive more support from the state.”
  2. Community Foster Care: “In this case, someone without a relationship to the child becomes the primary caregiver of the child,” says Brodd.

“In both cases, kinship and community, the child is a ward of the state and the caseworker or the judge has to sign off on many daily life decisions,” says Brodd. Legally, children in foster care have been placed under the custody of a state agency.

Foster care is “almost always assumed to be temporary,” according to Adoptions from the Heart. In most cases, the parents are encouraged to remain actively involved in their child’s life. “Many actually have court-ordered visitations with their children,” explains Adoptions from the Heart, because the primary goal of foster care is reunification. In 53 percent of cases, birth parent and child are reunited after it has been determined that the birth parents can “properly provide for their child financially, emotionally and socially.”

30 percent of cases, foster children are adopted. These situations are typically handled one of two ways:

  • Fost-Adopt: This is when a child is placed in a foster home with the expectation that the birth parents’ parental rights will be terminated and the child will be legally adopted by their foster parents.
  • Free to Adopt: When birth parents’ parental rights are terminated, but the child is not adopted by their foster parents, the child becomes “legally free to adopt.”

Adoption

“Adoption means the adoptive family becomes responsible for the child in every way,” says Brodd. The birth parents have voluntarily relinquished their parental rights. “This is a permanent change in legal status and the adoptive family receives full responsibility for raising the child.” Because of this, birth parent involvement varies drastically from adoption to adoption.

  1. An Open Adoption allows birth parents and adoptive parents to continue a relationship after the baby is born. “Type of contact can include the exchange of pictures or gifts; communication via e-mail, letters, Skype, or telephone; and face-to-face meetings,” says researcher Harold D. Grotevant.
  2. A Closed Adoption means the birth parents have no contact. The adoptive parents might not even know the name of the birth parents. They will, in general, not get any identifying information about one another and they will not be in contact in the future.

“Perhaps the most important thing to consider when envisioning your child’s life is where you fit,” says birth mother and adoption.com contributor Haley Kirkpatrick. “Do you see yourself directly involved in his or her life? Do you speak on the phone regularly? Do you only communicate through letters? Do you even communicate at all?”

Questions?

The professionals at Adoption Makes Family have many years of experience in adoption services, helping birth parents explore their options. If you have any questions, you can contact us by phone at 410-683-2100, by e-mail at dr.kirschner@adoptionmakesfamily.org or use our online contact form.

Adoption Makes Family was founded to meet the needs of birth parents and adoptive parents in a manner that is sensitive, compassionate, and personal.

Sources

  1. Brodd, Tanya. “Guardianship vs. Adoption vs. Foster Care.” Fostering Rights, www.fosteringrights.org/single-post/2017/07/24/Guardianship-vs-Adoption-vs-Foster-Care.
  2. Grotevant, Harold D., et al. “Contact Between Adoptive and Birth Families: Perspectives From the Minnesota/Texas Adoption Research Project.” Child Development Perspectives, vol. 7, no. 3, Dec. 2013, pp. 193–198., doi:10.1111/cdep.12039.
  3. “What Is the Difference between Adoption and Long-Term Fostering?” Www.barnardos.org.uk, www.barnardos.org.uk/jigsaw/jigsaw_what_we_do/jigsaw_difference_adoption_fostering.htm.
  4. “What’s The Difference Between Foster Care And Adoption?” Adoption from the Heart, 20 Nov. 2015, afth.org/difference-between-foster-care-adoption/.
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