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The difference between fostering and adoption: which is right for me?

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Confusing the difference between fostering and adoption is a common mistake. Both adoption and fostering are ways of providing care for a child who is not able to live with their birth family. While both are hugely rewarding there are key differences between the two that must be considered before making a decision on which is the best for you. In this blog we will explore a few of these differences as we aim to help you differentiate between fostering and adoption.

Fostering a child is hugely rewarding emotionally and can also be rewarding financially

The main difference is a legal one. In the case of adoption, the adopter becomes the legal guardian of the child, whereas with fostering the local authority and the child’s birth parents have complete legal authority.


Fostering a child involves the ongoing management of relationships between the child, the foster parent, the local authority and the child’s birth parents. The end goal of fostering is to repair whatever caused the child to be removed from their home and into foster care. This means that fostering is temporary. If it transpires that it will not be possible for the child to rejoin their birth parents, then the child will be placed for adoption.

When a child is adopted the adopter becomes their legal guardian. This is for life and under the eyes of the law the adoptive parent would have the same responsibilities towards the child as if they had given birth to them. This means that when deciding to foster you must be absolutely certain that this is the right decision for you and for the child who you wish to adopt. Adoption is forever, and the child’s happiness and wellbeing will be your responsibility forever.


Fostering a child is hugely rewarding emotionally and can also be rewarding financially. When fostering a child, you will be given an allowance which varies depending on the needs of the child you are looking after, where you live and other factors such as the child’s age. As fostering is a demanding responsibility the financial benefits could see you rewarded with up to £26,000 a year.

Adopting a child is also no doubt just as emotionally rewarding. Providing a permanent home for a child who may have experienced a difficult upbringing is very honourable. When you adopt a child you assume all responsibilities for the child, this includes all financial responsibilities. Unlike with fostering, there are no allowances for adopting a child, and the application process involved in adoption can often cost several thousand pounds.


Fostering insights


  • Foster Carer
  • Advice

Date published

30 March 2022

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