Pros and Cons of Foster Care in California

If you're considering adoption, you have several options to choose from. If foster care adoption is the right choice for you, we can provide the services you need for a successful process.

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Hopeful adoptive parent have many options available to them. So, how do they decide which path is best for their family?

Know that the ultimate choice will always be up to you as a prospective adoptive parent. Our professionals at FCCA are always available to answer your questions during your decision-making process. Because our agency completes all types of adoption — international, private domestic and foster care adoptions — we can provide the information you need to make the best choice for you.

If you’ve come to this article, you’re probably considering the fos-adopt process — maybe even asking, “Should I adopt a child from foster care?” You can always contact our adoption agency or attend one of our free information sessions for help answering this question, but the list below of the pros and cons of adopting a foster child in California can also be instrumental in your decision.

Pros of Foster Care Adoption

While adopting from foster care is not right for everyone, there are many benefits of foster care adoption for those considering this path. Here are a few reasons why some hopeful parents end up choosing foster care adoption to expand their family:

  • Foster care adoption is the most inexpensive of adoption options. On average, the foster care adoption process only costs about $2,000 — and those costs are often covered retroactively by the California adoption subsidy and the federal adoption tax credit. In comparison to the tens of thousands of dollars international and private domestic infant adoption can cost, foster care adoption is one of the most affordable ways to add a child to your family.
  • Foster care adoption often involves shorter wait times. Another one of the great benefits of foster care adoption in California is the shorter amount of time a family spends waiting for placement. There are many children waiting in the foster care system to be adopted, so once your adoption home study has been approved, you can usually receive an adoption placement within 3-12 months.
  • Our adoption agency focuses on low-risk adoption placements. In foster care adoption, there are two kinds of placements: high-risk and low-risk. Low-risk placements (which our agency focuses on) involve children whose parents have failed their reunification plans and for whom adoption is imminent. Low-risk adoption placements make it incredibly rare for a child to be placed with a foster family and not eventually adopted by that family.
  • You can choose what placements work for your family. Like with many other adoption processes, foster care adoption allows hopeful parents to set preferences for their adopted child. You will never be forced to accept a situation with which you are uncomfortable, whether it’s age, race, gender, or background of your child. Your FCCA social worker will make sure you are prepared for the situations you have decided to pursue.
  • The requirements to becoming a foster parent are less restrictive than other adoption options. Another of the benefits of foster care adoption is the great need for adoptive parents — and the less restrictive requirements to become one. While international adoption agencies (and birth mothers making selections in domestic infant placements) may have marital, age, and income requirements, there are no such requirements for foster care adoption. As long as you can provide a safe and loving home to a child, and are over the age of 21, you meet the basic requirements to become a foster parent.
  • You will receive training as part of your foster care approval. Adding a child to your family can be intimidating, but when you pursue foster care adoption through FCCA, we will give you the support and resources needed every step of the way — especially for the specific situation you select for your adoption placement.
  • You will give a home to a child desperately in need of one. The children waiting in the California foster care system have often spent years in and out of foster homes. They desperately need permanent, loving and safe homes to blossom into the people they deserve to be. Providing this to a child is perhaps the biggest benefit of foster care adoption.

Cons of Foster Care Adoption

As mentioned, foster care adoption isn’t right for everyone. If you’re asking, “Should I adopt a child from foster care in California?” think about whether you are comfortable with the potential disadvantages of the process:

  • Adopting a baby through foster care is unlikely. Before a child can be freed for adoption, their parents must have failed to complete several reunifications plans. Therefore, the likelihood that an infant in foster care can be adopted while they are still young is very small. If you are looking to adopt an infant, foster care adoption may not be the best choice for you. An exception to this may be in certain geographical areas where more young infants are available in certain counties; ask your local FCCA office for specifics about this.
  • Most foster children have a traumatic past, which presents itself in emotional and behavioral challenges. When thinking about the pros and cons of adopting a foster child, the disadvantage that comes up the most is the background of the children adopted from foster care. Every child in the foster care system will have a unique background with some degree of trauma. Those who wish to adopt a foster child must be prepared to work with and address these challenges appropriately. Remember, you will have support and resources available to you.
  • Some foster children have “special needs.” Many of the children adopted from foster care are labeled as having “special needs” — but it’s not always what you may think. In many cases, this simply means a child is older, a member of a sibling group, a minority, or has behavioral and physical challenges to overcome. You will be given the opportunity to hear about each child’s specific special needs and to work with your FCCA social worker to determine whether you are a good fit as a parent for that child.
  • If you are presented with a high-risk placement, you may never get to adopt that child. There is a reason why our agency focuses on low-risk placements. High-risk placements — like those of younger children — will often be returned to biological family after they have been originally placed with you. This can be a heartbreaking moment if you have your heart set on adopting this child, not just serving as the child’s temporary foster parent.
  • The approval process is extensive and can take some time. All parents must meet certain requirements before they can adopt a child, whatever path they are taking. Foster care adoption is not different. You should be prepared for a few months of background screening, home investigations, training and more before you are approved to adopt a child from foster care. The steps may be long, but they are all necessary to ensure you have chosen the right path for your family.

Getting Started

These are just a few of the pros and cons of adopting a foster child in California. For more information, please talk to our staff or attend one of our information sessions in your area.