Opening your doors to children through foster care or adoption is a beautiful way to share your love and home with someone who needs care. It is important to understand that there are huge, huge differences between the two processes, though.
Choosing which process is the best one for you is a huge decision, and should be made with care. In this post, we will briefly describe both the types of foster care and adoption that are available in Florida and how the various processes work. In the end, neither process is better than the other. It all depends on your family and how you want to bring a child into your life.
Understanding Foster Care in Florida
If you ask most people about the difference between foster care and adoption, the first thing that will come up is the fact that adoption is permanent, whereas foster care is a temporary process.
However, this isn’t necessarily the case. While it is true that over half of all foster children go back to living with their birth parents at some point in their lives, for many others foster care is the step before getting adopted.
Sometimes foster children will be adopted by people other than their foster parents, but in other cases it is those foster parents who ultimately end up signing adoption papers and making their role and rights as parents and guardians official and permanent. In fact, some people decide to become foster parents in part because they see it as a sort of “trial” form of adoption.
That being said, there are many different types of foster care parents in Florida, including parents who are on call for emergency placements, and “kinship” caregivers who are related to the child and agree to take on temporary custody and parental responsibilities.
No matter what type of foster care parent you are, you will undergo training in order to prepare to bring children into your home. In addition to this training, foster parents also have other resources to turn to, including respite care programs and other local support groups. If you’re worried that all of this sounds complicated and potentially expensive, don’t worry – the process of becoming a foster parent in Florida costs little to no money.
If you do want to foster before you adopt, great! Many adopting parents are actually encouraged to take this route in order to give the child a smooth transition while still giving the child a “forever home.” However, you should know that there may be some extra requirements down the road in order to adopt, including a home study, and paperwork that must be completed in order to gain full parental rights to the child.
Understanding Adoption in Florida
Let’s say you know you already know you want to adopt. Before you take the plunge, make sure you ask yourself a few important questions and plan for the reality of the process and having a child living in your home.
As mentioned above, prospective adopting parents are sometimes encouraged to foster a child before going through with the official adoption. Well, depending on the type of adoption process you choose, this may actually be a requirement. Generally speaking, there are two ways to adopt a child in Florida: private or state adoption.
With private adoption, you have more choices as to the country where your child is adopted, and the adoption tends to be finalized much faster. One big drawback, though, is that the costs of adoption will be quite a bit higher.
If you adopt through the state, the adoption process tends to take significantly more time, and there are more variables that put your adoption at risk. A big reason for both of these issues is that the Florida social services department’s first goal is to rehabilitate the child’s birth parents and reunite them with their children. Biological parents will be given multiple opportunities to correct the issues that caused their children to be taken away in the first place, which can make finalizing an adoption through the state take years.
That being said, some children (typically older ones) may be available for immediate adoption through the state. Moreover, adoption through the state will not cost much more than the home study, which is a review conducted by a social worker to make sure adoptive parents are ready to take a child in and be permanent parents. The social worker who conducts your home study will also handle your case from beginning to end.
Either process may require the help and representation of a family attorney. To learn more about how you can be sure in the process you choose, talk to a Florida family lawyer today.