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What is Foster Adoption?

By M. Lupica
Updated May 17, 2024
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Foster adoption is a process by which children are given temporary homes, called “foster homes,” with volunteer families until a more permanent solution can be arranged for the child. The ideal solution in a foster care situation is reunification with the child’s biological parents, but this is often not possible due to the continued unfitness of the parent. If the child’s biological parent may not resume duties as parents, the governmental agency facilitating the foster care will often try and arrange adoption by another family member such as a grandparent, aunt, or uncle. The goal of foster adoption is to keep the foster period as short as is necessary and get the child into a permanent home as soon as possible.

There are many different circumstances in which a child may be put through the process of foster adoption. Generally, children are put into foster care as a temporary solution after having their biological parents judicially deemed incapable of providing a safe and nurturing home for children. Governmental agencies that facilitate foster care prefer to house the child with a family member, but it is often the case that no family member is in position to take on the responsibility. In this case, the child will be placed with a foster family who is usually paid by the government to take on such responsibilities and can provide the child with a temporary home.

Ideally, the end result of the foster adoption process is reuniting the child with his or her biological parents after rehabilitating whatever issue initially made them unfit. However, this is often not a possibility given the circumstances, so the agency must come up with a different solution. Again, if the agency cannot find a family member to adopt the child then he or she will be put up for adoption to an outside family. Most jurisdictions limit the amount of time the child may be in foster care prior to seeking this permanent placement with an adoptive family.

While the foster adoption process is generally considered preferable to placing the child in an orphanage or other group home, some children are unable to function in foster homes. Often, the children simply have behavioral issues and are placed in homes with the aim of fixing the child’s behavioral issue and placing him or her with another foster family. However, children with medical needs that require special medical care often must be placed in group homes with specialized staff to meet their needs.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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