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How to Choose Your Path

Adoptive or foster mother helping her foster or adopted daughter with homework

Thinking of stepping out of your comfort zone and making a lasting impact on a child in need in Ohio? Heard about foster care or adoption and want to learn more? There are two major differences: parental rights and permanency.

Foster Parenting

The primary goal of foster parenting is to reunify children with their families. A child may end up in foster care for a variety of reasons. Foster care gives the child a safe, stable, temporary place to live while the birth family works to improve the safety and stability of their family environment. This can take months or even a year or more. During that time, the agency also looks for relatives or close family friends (also known as “kinship caregivers”) who may be able to care for the child, either temporarily or permanently.

The birth parents retain their rights while the child is in foster care. They will have scheduled visits with the child, except in rare circumstances when visiting would be too dangerous. The foster parents do not have custody.

Monetarily, foster parents receive stipends from the county to help pay for children’s basic needs.

If the birth parents can’t complete their case plan to provide a safe environment, and no kinship caregivers are available, then parental rights are terminated. When this happens, the child is available for adoption. At that time, the county agency assumes permanent custody of the child and works to find an appropriate adoptive placement.

Foster care may end in adoption, but this is never the goal. The goal of foster care is reunification with the birth family, and foster parents must support this.

Adoptive Parenting

Children are placed for adoption either voluntarily by their birth parents or involuntarily if they are in foster care and can’t be reunified with their birth parents.

Adoption is a permanent, legally binding relationship. A child must live with the adoptive family for six months before the adoption can be finalized. During this time, a representative from the adoption agency will visit monthly to ensure that the family is adjusting well and that the adoption would be in the child’s best interests. Once the court legalizes the adoption, the adoptive family has full legal and financial responsibility for the child, just as they would a biological child.

Still Not Sure?

Use our search tool to find foster care and adoption agencies near you. Call a few to decide which one is right for your needs. The agency will provide information about pre-placement training, which will explain foster care and adoption in depth. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Every agency has a wealth of information and can help you decide which path is best for you and your family.