ABSTRACT

A permanent, safe, familylike living situation for every child is the goal of current child welfare legislation and practice. The “permanence” in permanency planning is not, however, defined by law. Certain placements are considered more familylike and permanent. Short of living with birth or extended families, adoption is considered to provide the most permanent of homes. Adoption’s value to children, adoptive parents, and society has not heretofore been systematically described. We generally assume that older child adoptions save foster care costs and, when they succeed, are a pleasure to the family and child. There is more to it than that. The evidence that adoption provides wide-ranging and great advantages over foster care is compelling and calls for renewed commitment to this program. This chapter clarifies the many benefits of adoption over long-term foster care—the most comparable other “permanent” placement option—and estimates the financial advantages that accrue. This provides but one basis for deciding what level of effort and cost should be put toward maintaining adoptive homes.