Adoption and foster care: differences under Italian Law
One of the main concerns of the family aiming at fostering a child is to explain what it means “to be available to foster” and the differences between fostering and adoption.
Although both adoption and foster care deal with the assistance of a child, the requirements and legal effects are very different.
Foster care is temporary and it is aimed at ensuring that children, who cannot continue to live with their parents or relatives join a family to grow up in a safe and healthy environment, allowing their integration into the community.
Therefore, the foster family takes on the task to educate the child and to fulfil both his material and emotional needs. However, and this is the most important feature, the legal nature of the relationship between the child and his natural parents remain intact.
The main features of foster care are:
- Temporary: at one point, the child goes back to his original and legitimate family;
- Contact with the family of origin: the child has to keep the relationship with his legitimate family through all the foster care period;
- Same legal status: the child does not change family name and residency.
- No legal age requirements: there are no strict requirements about the difference in age between the child and the foster parents.
Adoption, is not temporary and it is aimed to equalize the status of adopted child as a legitimate child also by receiving the surname of the adoptive parent.
By adoption, a family may recognize as legitimate children, minors (sometimes even adults) who have been abandoned by their biological parents or who are orphans or simply they have not been recognized by them.
Only children declared fit for adoption by the Italian Juvenile Court (Tribunale per i minorenni) may be adopted.
The main features of adoption are:
- Permanent: any relationship with the family origin may be interrupted;
- Different legal status: the minor becomes a substantial member of the new family, acquiring the surname and the residence;
- Strict legal requirements: the family applying for adoption must meet certain objective legal requirements (minimum income; age difference etc.).
Notwithstanding the differences between the two, should certain requirements be met, foster care may turn into adoption. The law, in fact, provides for a preferential way for those who have the child in foster care. However, the decision is always with the Juvenile Court and it is always taken in the best interest of the child.
VGS Family Lawyers and its Adoption and Foster Care Team will be more than happy to assist you. For further information please contact us or leave your contact details in the Contact Form and you will be contacted within 24 hours.