Although adoption isn’t always an easy decision, learning more about it can help you decide if it’s the best choice for both you and your baby. You will always be the parents that gave your child life, but sometimes choosing a life for them that you know you cannot provide is the best way to show them how much you care.
Here are some things to know:
1.) Length of time. Foster care is typically temporary – either until children reunite with their parents, or the child turns 18. Adoption is forever – even after the child turns 18, their adoptive parents will legally be their parents for the rest of their lives
2.) How the children are placed. Foster care is usually managed by the court system or a social services agency, and is not typically voluntary. Adoption is completely voluntary when birth parents decide that it is in the best interest of their child to hand their parental rights to another family. Adoption is also typically managed by an adoption agency.
3.) Who has responsibility for the child legally. Foster care involves the state being legally responsible for the child, while with adoption, the adoptive parents are legally responsible.
4.) Choosing a family for your child to live with. With adoption, birth parents have the option to choose a family for their child. They can look at different family profiles that tell them all about the adoptive family, what they do for a living, what they look like, what their hobbies are, and more. In some cases, birth parents may even get to meet and talk to adoptive parents before choosing them. With foster care, birth parents do not typically get to choose or meet the families that their children are going to be living with.
While these differences might sound scary and final, studies show that children are typically more well off in many different ways when they’re raised by adoptive parents rather than placed into foster care. Adopted children are usually more emotionally healthy, do better in school, and are better off economically than children who are in foster care, or are raised by parents who may have difficulty caring for them. ¹
It is also important to know there are three main types of adoption: open adoption, semi-open adoption, and confidential adoption.
Open adoption allows you to choose your child’s new family, and continue to have a relationship with them. This can include phone calls or visits with your child throughout their life, communicating with photos or letters, and possibly even attending their sports games or music performances. This type of adoption allows your child to grow up knowing who you are. It’s important to remember that open adoption is not the same as co-parenting, or helping this new family raise your child. It’s still adoption, but it allows you to have a healthy relationship with your child.
Semi-open adoption still allows you to choose the family that your child will grow up in, but it involves a little less communication than open adoption. Both you and your child’s adoptive parents will decide together what this communication looks like. You may be able to send and receive life updates about you and your child through the adoption agency, but you might not know many details about your child’s life.
Confidential adoption means that you will have very little to no contact with your child and their adoptive family. The adoption agency will choose the child’s adoptive family, and no details about you will be shared with your child. While this may sound cold and unappealing, some birth parents find this type of adoption to be easier for them emotionally and a healthy option for them and their child.
Choosing adoption for your child lets them know they are loved by not only one, but two families. It also shows your own personal strength. Even when faced with something as life-changing as an unplanned pregnancy, you took the time to empower yourself by learning about all of your options, and choosing the one that will best benefit your child.
Adoption also allows you to care for your child’s adoptive family. Whether they are looking to adopt because they cannot have children of their own, or they simply want to grow their family, you are giving them the ability to do so.
1- Care Net. (2019). Adoption Options. Before You Decide, (3).