One of the most rewarding experiences in life is raising a child, and providing the love, stability and environment needed for them to learn and grow. However, becoming a foster parent is not the only type of legal guardianship that you can do!

Foster care can seem similar to adoption and kinship care. The difference between the three can be a confusing barrier to an experience that will have a positive impact on your life and the life of the potential child. Below will help explain the differences between the three.

What is Foster Care?

Foster care is a temporary legal arrangement that allows another family to take care of a child as if they were their own because their birth parents are unable to take care of them.

The foster child needs a stable home and family, and those who open their arms and homes to foster children can make a positive impact on their lives long-term. Some of these children come from difficult situations, and the love of a family can help to stabilize them and help them put their best foot forward.

The goal of foster care is to eventually reunite the child with their biological parents. However, in the case that it is impossible or decided by the courts, adoption is possible by the foster family.


We all have an idea of what adoption is, but legally, it is the permanent process of a child who is not raised by their birth parents becoming a full part of another family.

Unlike foster care, in which the child’s legal guardianship situation is temporary, adoption is a permanent legal process. Essentially, in the eyes of the law, the person who is not with their biological parents becomes the child of the adopting family.

This can have a positive effect on a foster child, as becoming part of a family can be a real step forward in their lives. However, it is important to note the legal methods and challenges that must be in place to adopt a child. KidLink Community Service provides resources for families and children that help educate you on topics just like this to help make your decision to foster easier.

While foster care and kinship care are both temporary, they can lead to adoption down the road. Both relatives and non-related families may have an opportunity to adopt.

Kinship Care

Kinship care is legal guardianship by either relatives of the child or, in some cases, very close family friends add fictive kin. Relatives are usually the preferred destination for a child who needs a guardian, as the familiarity and the comfort found in living with a relative can minimize the trauma that can often come with separation.

While kinship care is preferred, don’t let that discourage you from becoming a foster parent. There are many children out there who need someone just like you to take a positive step forward in their lives.

Reach out to us today for more information on foster care

KidLink Community Services provides therapeutic services to youth in foster care, foster parents and biological families throughout Tennessee. The dedicated team at Kid Link Community Services wants to help each child succeed.

Our therapists work in the home with children and foster parents to address the challenges that can prevent healing. These therapists can help families who are on the fence of becoming a foster parent, adopting, or considering kinship care.

If you are interested in learning more, please contact us at 877-714-1313 or fill out a contact form and a representative will be in contact with you.

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