Is Fost-Adopt Right For You?
A Look at how the Process Works for Lesbians and Gay Men

by Katharine Swan

Deciding whether to bring a child into your life is a big decision, and there are many avenues open to you. If you are considering becoming a parent, either by yourself or with a committed partner, it is import that you understand the many options available to you.

What Are My Options?

Just like heterosexual singles and couples who are infertile, gay and lesbian singles and couples must consider alternative ways of becoming a parent. Although the biological route – insemination, surrogacy, and similar routes – is always an option, you may decide you want to open your heart to a child who is not biologically related to you. Adoption is one way to bring a child into your life, but there are also many other options for you to consider before making a decision.


When a couple cannot have a biological child, for whatever reason, adoption is usually the first place they turn. There are many kinds of adoption: closed adoption, open adoption, special needs adoption, international adoption, the adoption of infants and toddlers, and the adoption of older children. If adoption is the choice you prefer, be sure to visit the Adoption section of The Rainbow Babies for more information and advice. Click here.

Foster Parenting

Foster parenting can be a very rewarding experience, as it allows you to provide a temporary home for multiple children over time, meeting their needs for love and security during a difficult period of their lives. Foster parenting can also sometimes lead to adoption, as foster parents are generally given first dibs if their foster child becomes available for adoption.

Foster-to-Adopt, Fost-Adopt, and Resource Families

Singles and couples who participate in Foster-to-Adopt, Fost-Adopt, and Resource Families programs are a very special breed. They enter into such a program with the intention of adopting their foster child, even while knowing full well that the child could still be returned to his or her family. These parents willingly agree to be their foster child’s safety net – the child’s assurance that regardless of the outcome with their biological family, they will still have a secure, loving home.

Foster Parenting as a Prelude to Adoption

If you are unsure about whether adoption is the right decision for you, but still feel strongly about bringing a child into your home, you might decide that foster parenting is your next step. However, while it can be a good indication of how you feel about making a child a permanent addition to your family, foster parenting should not be taken lightly – you still have a responsibility to the foster child for as long as he or she should need you, whether or not you decide that you want to make parenthood a permanent role in your life.

Baby ToesFoster parenting as a prelude to adoption has distinct pros and cons. On the positive side of things, it gives you a chance to consider the effect adoption would have on your home. It also provides you with the opportunity to help a child in need, which can be very rewarding (and very challenging), regardless of your ultimate decision.

On the down side, fostering a child also has the disadvantage of forming an attachment that may or may not be fulfilled. If your foster child becomes available for adoption, the agency will allow you to decide whether to adopt him or her before making the child available to others; however, the state’s first priority is usually to try to reunite families, so unless the courts permanently remove the parents’ rights to their child, your foster child may very well return to his or her family. Also, extended family are usually given first priority as potential adoptive parents, so even if your foster child becomes available for adoption, he or she might still be taken from you.

Another negative to foster parenting is that you will often have to work with the child’s biological parents in the state’s attempts to reconcile the family. This may be very difficult for you, if you have formed an attachment or if your foster child was mistreated by his or her biological family.

Despite these considerations, however, foster parenting can be a very rewarding experience, particularly if you are dedicated to helping out a child in need.

Foster-to-Adopt Programs

The difference between foster parenting and foster-to-adopt programs is that whereas adoption may or may not be a consideration in the first scenario, the parents in the second scenario intend to adopt their foster child, should the situation work out to their advantage.

Fost-adopt programs ask participants to put themselves in a potentially disappointing situation for the sake of a child in need: to take on a foster child, plan to adopt him or her, and take the chance that the child might be returned to the biological family. Fost-adopt programs usually only include children that do not have a very good chance of being returned to their families, but the risk of getting attached, only to lose the child, is still a very real concern.

On the other hand, however, fost-adopt programs have the benefit of rolling the process of moving from foster parenting to adoption into one seamless program. Because you make a commitment to adopt the child should he or she become available, the program contains the training and assistance of both scenarios.

Making Your Decision

Happy BirthdayAlthough it may seem tempting to use a foster situation to “try out” parenting before you decide to adopt, using foster parenting in that manner is sure to have serious emotional repercussions for you, your partner, and the child. It is hardly fair to any of you to form an attachment with a child before deciding whether you can uphold your end of the bargain – or without the understanding that you may very well “lose” the child to the biological family.

That being said, foster parenting and foster-to-adopt programs have decided advantages. For someone who feels strongly about being a parent and helping out a child in need, foster parenting is a wonderful opportunity to help many different children, while fost-adopt programs allow you to adopt a child without the disruption that can be caused by being shuffled around the foster care system.

The decision to foster a child or join a fost-adopt program is a personal decision that you and your partner must make together, having considered your feelings about the advantages and disadvantages of fostering. Making sure that your decision is one you really want will ensure that the experience is a rewarding one.

Information published on The Rainbow Babies website is not a substitute for proper medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or care. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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