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Lesson 1 of 7

Brief Introduction to Adoption and Fostering

Video Lesson

Written Lesson

Basic Summary

Many happy families are built through the adoption process, as well as through foster care, which may lead to permament adoption in some cases. While both can be wonderful ways to build a family, there are a few key distinctions between the two.

First, and most obviously, while the goal of adoption is to permanently welcome a child into your family, the stated goal of foster care (with some exceptions) is often to eventually reunify a child with their birth family.

As you can see below, the costs and timelines for domestic infant adoption, international adoption, and adoption from foster care are dramatically different.

In this course, we’ll focus most of our attention on domestic infant adoption, but in the final lesson, we’ll cover high-level considerations for intercountry adoption. As for the foster process, we have a dedicated course to bring you up to speed.

In many cases, parents will face questions about if, and how, to share with their adopted children their birth story. As you can see from the data below, adopted children who learned of their birth story at an earlier age tend to record a higher quality of life score as adults. We’ll cover issues and degrees of “openness” and the benefits of openness as seen in the data in a later lesson.

What’s more, many adopted children (and parents) will face “microaggressions” around their adopted status, and there can be valuable tools to address these issues as they arise.

Many adoption and foster families are transracial, and so many parents need tools to help their child appreciate that child’s birth culture, and in the face of slights, maintain their self-esteem.

As you’ll see in another lesson, when the whole family engages in “social culturalization” and “preparation for bias” training, the adopted child and everyone in the family benefits immensely.

For many single and LGBTQ hopeful parents, adoption and foster are invaluable paths to building a family. In the case of fostering, these groups face fewer barriers. In the case of intercountry adoption, they face many more.

Ultimately, single women who build their families through adoption tend to believe they encounter similar challenges as women who are co-parenting or married, despite having a likely lower household income and less “built-in” help.

As for LGBTQ parents, their adopted children report exceptionally high levels of feeling welcomed and supported by their parents. The data show that while these children may report higher numbers of microaggressions (many of a “moderate” nature), they also possess greater abilities to cope and higher levels of resilience.