Foster Care vs. Private Adoptions?

If you are considering adoption, it’s likely that you have come across one of the two most popular methods of adoption in the United States: adoption through foster care and private adoptions. So which one best fits you and your family?

Difference between Foster Care and Private Adoptions

Adoption through foster care occurs when a child that has been placed in foster care is adopted by their foster parents. Foster care adoptions cover all the ages in which a child can be adopted. These adoptions are commonly handled on the state level through public and private agencies.

A private adoption occurs when a private agency works with birth parents to place their child for adoption by working with adoptive parents. This kind of adoption focuses mainly on newborn adoptions as opposed to the adoption of older children.

Benefits of adoption through foster care

  • Cost – Adoption through foster care is an attractive option to many parents, as they are drawn to the fact that it features little to no cost. There is also significant financial assistance available to those who adopt through foster care.
  • Security – Once the parental rights of a child in foster care have been legally terminated by a judge, foster parents are completely free to legally adopt the child. It is one of the most important steps in the adoption process.
  • Choice – Adoption through foster care is hugely beneficial in that there is significantly more choice involved. A child placed in foster care typically has around a year before they are eligible to be adopted. In this time, both foster parents and the child(ren) can get to know one another and decide if they want to make the arrangement permanent.

Cons of Adoption through foster care

  • Age – If your preference is to adopt an infant, toddler, or a child under the age of 6, then this option might not be best for you. The average age of children adopted through foster care is 6 years old. The average age of a child in foster care waiting to be adopted is 8 years old.
  • Uncertainty – If the child you would like to adopt has not yet been legally freed for adoption, then you may face an uphill battle in trying to do so. For the benefit of the children, the main goal of foster care is reunification. If this is still an option there is no guarantee that you will be able to adopt the child.

Benefits of Private Adoption

  • Choice – As private adoptions typically cover newborn adoptions, parents have the choice to adopt younger children rather than older.
  • Security – Private adoptions offer security in the form of an agency ensuring that you have the support you need to go through the adoption process. They work with adoptive parents and biological parents to ensure that the process goes smoothly for both parties.
  • Time – Private adoptions usually take less time to complete than foster care adoptions, based on a variety of factors. The most important of which is that the biological parents have consensually terminated their parental rights.

Cons of Private Adoption

  • Cost – This is one of the major drawbacks of private adoptions. The cost involved can range from $20,000-$40,000. While there are loan programs available there is no way to fully offset this cost in a private adoption.
  • Gender – If you have a preference for the gender of your child, a private adoption might not be the way to go. As the birth parents places their child for adoption early on, the child’s gender might not be known if you are matched early on. If you are matched soon after the child is born, there is no choice in the child’s gender.
  • Wait – Private adoptions may take significantly less time to complete than adoptions through foster care. However, there can be a stressful period of time and uncertainty while adoptive parents wait to be matched with their children.


There is no right or wrong choice when it comes to adoption through foster care and private adoptions. If you are considering adoption, you should perform thorough research to figure out which option is the best for you and your family.



AFCARS. “The AFCARS Report”., Accessed 28 November 2018.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau.“Planning for adoption: Knowing the costs and resources” . Accessed 28 November 2018.

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