If you're considering adoption or fostering, you may want to know all the facts before you decide which you're best suited to. Adopting or fostering a child is a life-changing decision, so make sure you ask plenty of questions along the way and speak to those with experience who can advise you.
Your local agency should be able to assess your strengths, limitations and potential areas for development, and guide you on the best course of action. To begin with, what are the main differences between adoption and fostering?
If you adopt a child you are legally responsible for them on a permanent basis. Your new child will become a part of your family, taking the family surname and having the same rights as a child born in to your family.
Adoption comes with a mix of emotions – the sadness of a child being put up for adoption combined with the happiness of the family who take in the child. An adoptive family must be well prepared for the emotional, psychological and social aspects of adopting a child.
Finding out more about fostering
When a child needs some time away from their own family life, fostering can give them the space to breathe, with a view to them one day returning home. The main difference between fostering and adoption is that the child remains the legal responsibility of their birth parents and/or the local authority.
There are many different types of fostering to consider, these include;
This is a type of long term fostering where a family looks after a child until they reach adulthood. In certain situations, permanent fostering is more appropriate than adoption since the child may have strong ties to their birth family. Permanent fostering can provide the child with stability while maintaining a relationship with their birth family.
Emergency foster care
This type of fostering is for children who need somewhere to stay immediately, usually for a number of nights.
Short break care
Also known as 'shared care', this type of fostering is mainly applicable to disabled children, giving the main carers of the child some respite.
In private fostering, parents arrange care for their child for a period of 28 days or more. The local authority must be made aware of the arrangement and visits will be organised to check the welfare of the child.
A foster carer will look after a child for a number of weeks or months while decisions are made about the child's future.
An alternative to secure accommodation, remand fostering is used for young people placed in foster care by the court.
If you're thinking of starting a family or expanding your existing brood, fostering and adoptionare good options to consider and can become a very fulfilling part of your life.