What Is The Difference?
Adoption is a legal process by which all parental rights and responsibilities are permanently transferred to the adoptive parents by the court. The child becomes part of the adoptive family as if they had been born into it and the child usually takes the family’s surname.
To be adopted, a child must be under the age of 18 when the application is made and not be married or in a civil partnership.
Both birth parents normally have to agree to the adoption, unless they can’t be found, they are not able to give consent, for example, if someone has a mental disability or the child would be put at risk if not adopted.
Who can adopt
People can adopt if aged 21 or over and either single, married, in a civil partnership, an unmarried couple, the partner of the child’s parent.
Private – looked after
There are different rules for private adoptions and adoptions of looked-after children.
Adopting a child
Adoption has significant legal, emotional, psychological, and social consequences for the child, the adoptive parents, the birth parents and others. After an Adoption Order has been granted there is no obligation upon adopters to remain involved with the Adoption Agency. However, an Adoption Agency does have a legal obligation to offer you support and help when requested including a post – adoption service.
Adopters need to be aged 21 and over, single or married people can adopt. Couples who are not married can adopt, although not jointly. There are no set financial requirements for prospective adopters. The home can be rented, mortgaged or owned. The main requirement is the child has their own room. If a prospective adopter has criminal convictions, it depends on the type and circumstances of the offence.
Gay people can adopt and there is nothing in law that prevents gay people from adopting children. You are able to adopt despite health or disability issues providing you can offer the right care and support to an adopted child. Adults from ethnic minorities and who are dual heritage can adopt. Matching children to families with the same background and same race is often the best situation for successful adoption for children and families.
Can I Afford To Adopt?
People can adopt a child even if they are unemployed or not very well off. Although as with any parenting, you will be expected to meet the child’s financial needs, there are several types of financial support available to certain people. One-off payments, on some occasions help with initial costs of adoption such as travel costs and ongoing contact with someone from their birth family.
There is ongoing financial support when certain children are eligible for a regular support package. This is means-tested. It is legally viewed as ‘non-profit making’ and so will not be taxable or affect your benefits
A Fostering career
Fostering means sharing the care of someone else’s child or children with the Local Authority and/or the birth parents. Most often the child returns home or moves on to independence. Foster carers never acquire parental responsibility for the children they foster.
Fostering is therefore the choice for most people who wish to have a part or full time career working from home and wanting to care for an open ended number of children throughout their time as foster carers.
Unlike adoption, fostering involves shared caring, and the child remains the legal responsibility of the local authority and/or their birth parents. Most children placed in foster care return to their birth families or move on to independence. Where this is not possible, the local authority will look at alternatives, such as other relatives, or adoption or permanent fostering.
Children who need permanent families might be already in foster care and placed with short-term foster carers. If they are unable to return to their birth parents, the decision is often to place the child long term with foster carers or to look for adoptive parents, usually if the child or children are under five years of age. Whether fostering or adoption is for the child, most of the children will have been subject to abuse.
Fostering is the choice for most people who wish to have a part or full time job looking after children working from home. People who become foster carers tend to want to look after an open ended number of children throughout their fostering career. To foster you must be over 21, but there is no upper age limit. You can be single, married, civil partners or living with a partner.
You can be of any sexual orientation, have no children, have children still living at home or have grown up children who have left home. You need a secure home with a spare room for one or more children and can be of any ethnicity, religion or nationality. If you have a criminal record, it needs to be free of any domestic or sexual violence or convictions against children.
You must be healthy enough to provide a caring stable home, you can work, be unemployed, but one person should be at home.
Can I Afford To Foster?
All foster carers receive an allowance to cover the cost of caring for a child in their home. For foster carers working on behalf of an Independent Fostering agency, this is set by the individual agency, it can be dependent on age however is about £400 a week per child placed.
Local authority fostering use the National guidelines which recommend basic levels of allowances for foster carers which Local Authorities tend to use. The average rate per child per week is about £140 plus other fees.
It is of paramount importance to choose the right fostering agency, there are over seven hundred in the UK. Simply Fostering, the UK national foster carer recruitment website provides help by answering questions and identifying the most suitable local fostering agencies with vacancies.
Simply Fostering help people interested in becoming foster carers to act on the Government’s advice to ‘contact more than one Fostering Agency if you are interested in a fostering career’.