Most of us have heard of fostering or adoption but not everyone is as familiar with foster to adopt. This is a process that puts a child at the centre of the adoption assessment process, with fantastic benefits for the child.
The difference between fostering and adoption is that temporary foster carers look after a child whilst the plans for their future are being decided. Most children remain in contact with their birth families whilst they are in foster care and birth parents maintain some, if not full parental responsibility for their child. Adoption is a permanent, irrevocable legal order that allows a child to be raised in an alternative family. The adoptive parents take over full parental responsibility for that child and raise them as their own, with the same rights and responsibilities that they would for a birth child.
What is foster to adopt? This is when a child is placed with adopters who are also temporarily approved as foster carers whilst the plan for their future is decided. If the plan for adoption is decided in court, the child remains with the same family who can proceed to apply to adopt them.
At Adopters for Adoption we don’t currently dually approve our adopters, but during the adoption assessment process, we ask all of our adopters if this is something that they might feel able to consider. Our adoption panel, who recommend if a family are suitable to adopt, are keen to hear more about a families suitability to foster to adopt. If such an opportunity arises for our approved adopters, the local authority, who wish to place the child, arranges for our adopters to be temporarily approved as foster carers.
This is not something that all of our families feel able to offer and it is fully explored with a social worker as part of the assessment. Foster-to-adopt carers are approved adopters who have the skills, emotional resilience and willingness to be able to offer a child a loving and nurturing home whilst living with the uncertainty that the child may be returned to their birth family.
The foster-to-adopt process can involve facilitating regular contact between the child and their birth family, working alongside other professionals, maintaining records. It requires a willingness to access training as well as being able to live with the uncertainty involved, whilst the local authority and court decide the plan for a child.
Why foster for adoption? If you look at this from a child’s point of view, foster to adopt can offer a child the very best start in life. It might mean that they are placed from birth, or a very young age, with a family who will become their forever family if they cannot be cared for by their birth parents. This avoids unnecessary moves and disruption for a child. Adopters for Adoption are here to offer support throughout the process right through to the adoption order and offer adoption support.
If the decision is made for the child to return to their birth family, our adopters can find comfort and satisfaction that they were able to provide the child with the best care and an opportunity to make secure attachments from a very early age, which we know is linked to more positive outcomes for them later in life. Adopters for Adoption are here to offer support throughout the process, we appreciate that this is not an easy task to do.