Infant Adoption vs. Foster Care Adoption

As a prospective adoptive parent, you have many options available to you, including the type of adoption you want to pursue. Comparing and contrasting private adoption and foster care adoption will help you determine which option is right for your family.

Private adoption, or domestic infant adoption, is the adoption of a child, usually an infant, who is voluntarily placed for adoption by his or her birth parents. Foster care adoption, or state adoption, is the adoption of a child in the foster system whose biological parents’ rights have been terminated by the State.

While the steps of the legal process are often different, both forms of adoption involve the creation of a legal parent to child relationship. In all cases, an attorney is required to legally finalize the adoption.

As you survey the type of adoption that is best for your family, there are many significant differences to consider. Private adoptions and state adoptions can vary widely in factors such as cost, wait time, and more.


Adopting through the state foster system is often the least expensive form of adoption, while private adoptions involve many services and specialists, increasing overall costs. There are little to no expenses associated with foster care adoptions and the child you adopt may qualify for Adoption Subsidy.

Wait Time

In both types of adoption, there are many variables that can impact a family’s wait time. The primary goal of the foster system is family reunification, and a child’s birth parents are often given multiple opportunities to work toward reunification before their parental rights are terminated. As a result, families who choose foster-to-adopt face long wait times until finalizing an adoption. Private adoptions generally have a shorter wait time than families who choose foster-to-adopt. However, if a family chooses to adopt a waiting child, one who’s parents’ parental rights have already been terminated, the wait time decreases.

Birth Parent Relationship

In more than 90% of private adoptions, the adoptive family maintains some sort of relationship with the child’s birth parents. The circumstances vary for children adopted from foster care, but closed adoptions are much more common through the foster system.

Emotional Challenges

Every adoption is an emotional journey with many ups and downs, but foster care adoptions may present some unique challenges during and after the process. Parents who are fostering to adopt may be disappointed if the child is reunified with his or her biological family, especially if the foster parents have had months or even years to bond with the child. Additionally, parents who can adopt from the foster system may find themselves raising a child with a history of abuse, neglect, or other trauma, which can present emotional challenges for the child, as well as the parents.

Please contact us today with any questions you have.