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Foster Care Agencies [How Are They Different From Other Agencies?]

Foster Care Agencies vs Private Adoption Agencies

If you’re looking to grow your family through adoption, you should know there is more than one way to adopt. Three of the most common types of adoption are:

For families who know they want to adopt a child from the U.S., that leaves them to choose between adoption through a foster care agency and domestic infant adoption. But, what’s the difference?

The differences between these types of adoption are more prevalent than you may know, which is why we created this helpful guide. We discuss the advantages and disadvantage of each adoption path, as well as where you can learn more if you’re interested in pursuing working with a foster care provider to grow your family.

You can connect with one of our experienced adoption professionals to learn more about domestic adoption vs adoption through foster care agencies by contacting us online.

What are Foster Care Agencies in California?

Oftentimes, when you hear someone refer to a foster care agency, they’re generally talking about a public adoption agency that works on behalf of the state government to organize and coordinate its foster care system. To do so, these agencies work with families who are hoping to foster children and/or hoping to adopt a child from foster care.

There are instances, however, where the need for foster care agencies is high enough that the state government contracts a private agency to assist in those needs. In California, for example, private and public adoption agencies work to find temporary and permanent homes for children who are in the state’s foster care system.

To find foster agencies in your state, the National Foster Care and Adoption Directory Search on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website is a great place to start.

You could also look into several local California foster care agencies, like:

Who Uses a Foster Care Agency in California?

Because there are so many children in the foster care system who are waiting for a permanent home, there are many couples who choose to pursue this type of adoption.

What types of people consider working with foster care adoption agencies?

  • Parents who have been fostering a child and want to foster-to-adopt when reunification between the child and his/her biological parents isn’t possible

  • Families who prefer to help a child in the state foster care system

  • Parents who are open to adopting an older child or a child with special needs

  • Families who cannot afford to adopt through private domestic adoption

Services Offered by Foster Care Agencies in California

Foster care agencies do offer different services to those interested in fostering or adopting from foster care. However, it may depend on the agency itself for what services are offered.

Many foster care centers offer parenting classes that may require attendance, such as Partnering for Safety and Permanence – Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting or Parent Resources for Information, Development, and Education.

Good foster family agencies in California will also assist you in completing a parent profile, which tells your caseworker about your and your interests in regards to foster care. Foster parent agencies can also help you complete a home study, which is a required step to be able to bring a child from foster care into your home.

Pros and Cons of Adopting Through a Foster Care Agency in California [Compared to Domestic Adoption]

When it comes to adopting a child from a foster care agency in California, there are many unique pros and cons that should be considered if you’re interested in this adoption journey. Some of these pros and cons include:

Wait Times

Private Adoption Through Our Agency: An average of 12 months.

Foster Care Adoption: Immediately to 5 years, all depending on the situation

Families who want to adopt a newborn child sooner will often choose private adoption because wait times are typically shorter than they are with a fostering agency. But, like with any adoption, certain aspects of your situation will impact your wait times, even for foster care adoption.

Child’s Age

Private Adoption: Infant

State Adoption: Less than 1 year old to 18 years old

The majority of foster care adoptions are of older children. If you’re deciding between infant domestic adoption vs foster-adopt, knowing the age of the child you want to adopt is one of the major deciding factors in how you’ll proceed.


Private Adoption: $45,000-$65,000

State Adoption: Cost of home study, time

While a private adoption may cost a large amount of money, adoptions through foster care adoption agencies may cost very little except for your time. This can be a major point in deciding between a foster parent adoption vs adoption from a private agency, so adoptive families need to ask themselves what they value more.

Where to Find Information and Resources for Foster Care Agencies in California

No matter what type of foster agency you use, adopting a foster child can be a wonderful gift for you and for a child. To learn more about foster care and foster care agencies, the following resources can be a great place to start:

You can also speak with one of our adoption professionals today to learn more about the differences between private infant adoption and adoption through foster care agencies.

Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. American Adoptions provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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