Parental and legal rights
The main difference between the two relates to parental responsibility. The role of foster parents is to look after children temporarily until they can be returned to their birth families (if possible). Therefore, they do not gain parental responsibility and will have limited decision-making capabilities. Whereas, adoptive parents legally gain parental responsibility when an adoption order is granted. An adoption order can not be reversed and means that the child loses all legal ties with their birth parents. This means the child becomes a permanent member of their adoptive family, often taking their surname and allowing the adoptive parents to make all the decisions a birth parent would.
There are also financial differences between the two. Foster parents receive an allowance whilst they have children in their care which is classed as income. This means that foster parents are classed as self-employed and have to pay taxes, although they usually receive tax relief. Adoptive parents however, take on full financial responsibility for the child or children and do not receive an income. Although some local authorities may provide financial support depending on the needs of the child; this is called an adoption allowance.
Can I foster with a plan to adopt in the future?
In some circumstances, fostering can lead to adoption. If your main goal is to adopt then you would need to look at fostering to adopt or concurrent planning. This is when you are dual approved as both a foster carer and an adopter.
Both foster to adopt and concurrent planning enable children to move in with you at the earliest opportunity with you taking on the role of a foster parent. By being approved as a foster parent as well as an adopter you may be able to adopt a younger child and reduce the number of moves a child needs to make; improving their overall well-being and development. However, by being approved as a foster parent with the intention of adopting, you need to be aware that:
- You will usually need to take the child to meet with their birth family during this period.
- Whilst unlikely, there is still a chance the child may return to their birth family.
- A relative of the birth family who was not previously known may come forward to offer a permanent home for the child.
Adopters for Adoption does not offer foster to adopt or concurrent planning but we have provided this information to help you decide if this could be right for you. If you are interested in foster to adopt or concurrent planning, please visit First 4 Adoption to find an agency that offers these services.
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