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What is the difference between fostering and adoption?

Whilst fostering and adoption may at first glance seem fairly similar, the difference between the two is predominantly differentiated by permanency and parental rights.


Long-term fostering and adoption both involve providing a permanent home for a young person, however adoption is a process which legally removes the rights and responsibilities of the child’s birth parent(s), and transfers them to adoptive parent(s).


With fostering on the other hand, the child remains the legal responsibility of the council and/or their birth parent(s) – with the child normally in foster care until the age of 18. Foster children can potentially return home or go to live with family members, whereas adopted children would not necessarily return home or live with other biological family members.