Fostering and adoption are not the same

What happens to the kids you look after? Where do they go?

What’s fostering and what’s adoption?

The Magical Mystery Tour always goes up Penny Lane. It always goes past Strawberry Field. Strawberry Field operated as a children’s home for The Salvation Army between 1936 and 2005.

We live near Penny Lane in Liverpool.

Every day, at least twice, more in the summer tourist season, the Magical Mystery Tour Bus drives by our house.

Contrary to what you may believe, the Magical Mystery Tour Bus starts at exactly the same place, follows exactly the same rout, and ends up exactly where it started.

It’s fairly predictable, and you can more or less set you watch by it.

Fostering is not so predictable.

Whilst there’s a plan for every child in care, their future is often uncertain.

There’s always a plan for every child in care. For some children, who cannot return to birth family, adoption or permanent foster care will be the plan.

1. Of the children we have fostered, three have gone back to birth Mum.

Social workers visited the family home, wrote reports, considered the evidence, consulted senior social workers, got expert advice, and, after considering a bit more, decided it was safe and appropriate for the child to return home.

In fostering, we’d consider this a happy ending.

If possible, kids should be with their parents.

2. Of the children we have fostered, two have gone to live with other foster carers on a long term basis.

These arrangements could be considered permanent, but technically they’re not.

The children in question have the security of a permanent home, but legally they are still in the care of the state and still in foster care.

Day to day, or even month to month, the foster carer may well make most of the decisions, but ultimately The State has the final say.

Fostering is temporary even if a child is with you for years.

I’d love to be able to make a definitive statement about what happens to kids when they go into care but I can’t. Every child has their own past and their own future. Generalisations are almost impossible.

3. Of the children we have fostered, one became old enough to live semi independently.

She enrolled in university, got herself a job, got herself a flat (with some help) and has become an adult. She pops round occasionally.

4. Of the children we have fostered, one has been adopted.

Most children who get adopted are pretty young, and statistically unlikely to have started reception.

A child is put up for adoption when there is absolutely no chance of them returning to birth family. This decision is not made lightly and involves social workers, legal teams and is ultimately decided by a judge who is entirely independent of Children’s Services.

Foster carers who care for babies and toddlers are far more likely to experience transitioning a child to adoption. It’s beautiful to help build a new family, and also highly emotional for all concerned.

Adoption is typically described as finding a ‘forever home’ and is as permanent as having birth children.

An adopted child has the same legal status as a birth child.

Adopting parents have all the same responsibilities as a birth parent.

Two of these kids live with their birth parents. One of these kids has been adopted by that family. All the kids have the same rights. The parents have equal responsibility for all three children.

Adoption and fostering are not the same.

Foster carers have to do mandatory training and meet various standards. Foster Carers get paid. Foster carers do not have full responsibility for the children in their care.

Generally, adopters are looking for a child to complete their family.

Foster carers provide a safe, temporary home for a child who can’t live with their family.