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According to the Children’s Welfare State Policy Reform Advocacy, reunification with the birth parents is almost always the primary goal for youths entering the Foster Care System. The exception is when the birth parents are no longer living or severe, extensive abuse has occurred that would make it impossible for the children to return home. The good news is that 51% of children entering foster care were able to return to their birth families in 2012.

But what happens when reunification isn’t possible? Where do the 49% of foster children who have not or cannot be reunited with their birth families go?

Two Options

Reunification between teen and mother

Two women reuniting.

Besides reunification, there are two options for finding permanent homes for these children. The first is adoption, and the second is kinship care.

Kinship Care

Kinship care is typically the second choice since it allows children to remain with their families. This could mean children go with grandparents, aunts, uncles, or even older cousins or siblings. While the primary benefit of kinship care is remaining within their family units, there are secondary benefits.

According to the Adoption Council, kinship care often allows children to remain within the same neighborhood or school system. This provides them with the necessary stability during a time when their lives have become very unstable. When family members are willing to bring the children into their home it also lessens the duration of their stay in the foster care system.


When both reunifications with birth parents and kinship care are not viable options the children in the foster care system are placed for adoption. Adoption through the foster care system costs little to nothing, says Adopt US Kids. In fact, some children in special groups even come with financial assistance for adopting parents.

The goal of adoption is to place the children in stable, caring homes. Often, children adopted from the foster care system will need to continue undergoing therapy to handle the problems that caused removal from their birth parents. When other options are not possible getting adopted is a wonderful decisive step in permanency.

Learn More About Reunification With Birth Parents

To learn more about foster care, kinship care, or adoption through the foster care system, contact us today.