Who are Foster Families? Adoptive Families?

Families take many forms but the hope for all is that they are rooted in love and can provide a safe & stable environment for children.  All the different kinds of families listed below open their hearts and homes in order to support a child or children, sometimes when they are needed the most.

Basic Definitions:

Foster family:  A child becomes part of the foster care system when it has been determined that they are in an unsafe or neglectful environment.  Placement of a foster child is done through a state or social service agency.  In foster care, the child’s legal guardian (typically) maintains all parental rights for the child. Although these rights are managed by the state, they remain intact unless the child is placed for adoption. Placement with a foster family is considered temporary.

Adoptive family:  Adoption is a legal process where full custody and rights are granted to the adoptive parents. Care for the child is entirely the responsibility of the adoptive parent or parents and is considered permanent.  Adoptive parents may adopt children out of the fostercare system when parental rights are terminated.  They may also adopt children from agencies that work both domestically and internationally to find children in need of stable homes.

Biological families:  As the name suggests, biological families are ones in which the child or children is born into the family.  Many foster families remain in close contact with biological parents.

Kinship families:  These are families where children are living away from biological parents but with family members (grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) or close family friends.  Kinship families may function temporarily or could lead to a long-term solution such as adoption.

Safe families:  These families provide temporary homes for children in danger of entering the foster care system.  This “early intervention” is intended to provide assistance who struggle with limited social support or lack extended family.

Ministry Resources for Foster Care and Adoption

Care Communities in the Diocese of San Diego

If you or your parish would like to support a Catholic foster family, a simple method is by forming a care community. A care community is three or more families/individuals/couples who “wrap around” the foster family with emotional support (check-ins and encouragement) and/or tangible needs (dinner drop-offs, baby-sitting, etc.). Depending on the unique needs of each foster family and the particular gifts/talents of the members of the care community, the structure and feel of each community may look a little different. Yet, all care communities are committed to serving their foster family and to reminding them that their Catholic community supports them in this fundamentally pro-life ministry!

Ideally as the rapport grows between the foster family and the care community, the members of the community may be called to take a more active role in advocating for foster families at their parish or throughout the diocese. This may be through organizing events for Catholic foster families to meet each other or through offering service activities like back-to-school drives to support local foster children.

If you are a foster family who would like to be connected to a care community or if you would like to serve a foster family as a member of a care community, please contact to Janelle Peregoy at jperegoy@sdcatholic.org or at (858) 490-8295.

To read more about one such foster family and care community in our diocese, click on the Hulburts’ story in The Southern Cross to the right.

Springs of Love’s mission is to encourage and equip Catholics to discern and live out the call to foster and adopt. Their Be Not Afraid virtual retreat is available to anyone considering this profound, pro-life ministry.

Resources & Support for Foster & Adoptive Families