The most important difference between adoption and foster care is that adoptive parents are meant to be permanent replacements for a child's biological parents, whereas foster parents are only meant to be temporary parents. Both types of non-biological parents are supposed to provide warm, family-like settings for children who can't be with their real parents. Still, the goal of foster care is to eventually reunite the children with their families. The length of time a child remains with a foster family can vary from a few days to a few years, while a child is intended to remain with his adoptive family forever. Another big difference is that legally, an adoptive parent is his child's legal guardian. Meanwhile, a foster parent has no legal long-term authority over his foster child.
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