Adoption vs. Kinship Care – What is the Difference?

pregnant woman curious about adoption vs kinship

When grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, older siblings, or other “kin” step in to raise children who can no longer stay with a biological parent, it’s known as kinship care. Others in a close family-like relationship, such as godparents or close family friends, can also be considered for kinship care.

As of September 2023, over 2.4 million children in the U.S. were raised in kinship/grandfamilies. Although that number is slightly lower than in previous years, it still means a large number of children are not raised by a biological parent.

In 2022, grandparents without a parent present in the home raised about 1 million grandchildren. Grandparents typically care for their grandchildren for 5 years or longer.

The Benefits of Kinship Care

Research has found that it is always better for children to remain with someone in their family rather than enter foster care. However, a child can enter foster care but still be cared for by a relative or other “kin.”

Outcomes such as a stronger identity, stability, better behavioral and mental health outcomes, the ability for siblings to stay together, and the overall protection of the child make kinship care a better option.

When children remain with kin caregivers, it minimizes the trauma of being removed from their biological parents. Plus, it often preserves children’s cultural identity and community connections.

The Drawbacks of Kinship Care

This type of care often occurs after a tragedy or some form of neglect, requiring a family member to make a quick decision whether to take the child(ren) or not. Often, there’s little or no pre-placement preparation for the family.

Unlike parents, kin caregivers do not have automatic legal rights for the children in their care. Kinship caregivers struggle to make decisions about healthcare, education, etc. Kinship care is not a permanent solution if the biological parents do not terminate their parental rights or give the caregivers power of attorney.

According to the Institute for Family Studies (IFS), “There is also a general lack of information about support services for kinship caregivers. These services, which are standard for foster care parents, include agency monitoring and financial assistance (such as foster care subsidy payments).”

In addition, the kin caregiver may have problems of their own, such as financial or health issues, limited space in their home, or lack of transportation.

The Adoption Difference

Adoption is the process of establishing a legal relationship between a child and a parent other than the child’s biological parent. It shifts all rights and responsibilities for raising the child to the adoptive parent.

For a child to be legally adopted, the biological parents must terminate their rights voluntarily, or the courts terminate their rights for them. Kinship adoption occurs when a kin caregiver permanently and legally adopts a child placed within their care.

Legal adoption provides permanency for a child. They have a sense of belonging and feel safe knowing they are loved and cared for. The courts determine if the person(s) adopting them can adequately provide for them.

Adoption Through A Gift of Hope Adoptions

A Gift of Hope Adoptions is a private adoption agency licensed in Missouri that specializes in domestic infant adoptions, including minority and special needs adoptions. Our services for Missourians include home studies, matching, and post-placement assistance, typically required by every state’s law.

If you are not interested in domestic infant adoption, we can still provide certain aspects of the adoption process, such as a home study or post-placement assessment. The courts require a home study if you are considering a kinship adoption.

Whether you are someone pursuing the adoption of a child, an expectant woman, or a mother who has already given birth and is considering placing her child, contact A Gift of Adoptions. We’ll be happy to answer any questions. Fill out our convenient online contact form or call (888) 564-HOPE.

This blog is for informational purposes only. This is not legal or medical advice. While we try our best to reflect current laws with accuracy at the time of writing, please note the laws can change over time.

What Questions Can We Answer?

waiting families Request free information


Elizabeth and A Gift of Hope have been a touchstone during our adoption process. Having had issues with a previous agency – Elizabeth was a breath of fresh air! Reassuring, supportive and empathetic. We are so in love with our daughter and thank A Gift of Hope everyday for her!

AGOHA is a great agency that has provided amazing support and guidance though the adoption process. Would highly recommend AGOHA!

Our family has used their services for adoption. It’s wonderful dealing with someone who is looking out for the whole child, not just placing kids.

A Gift of Hope Adoptions is a Godsend for so many expectant young mothers. I completely recommend this organization for anyone interested in providing a wonderful life for their soon-to-be baby. This organization is also a Godsend for those of us who cannot have our own biological children.

I have recommended A Gift of Hope Adoptions to several mother’s considering adoptions for their babies. They have been so happy to feel supported and empowered through their decision.
Read more…

“We adopted both of our sons through A Gift of Hope Adoptions. They helped us every step of the way and answered all the questions we had, and we had a lot! We would not be where we are today, with two busy boys in our family, if it wasn’t for A Gift of Hope.”

“We decided to use A Gift of Hope Adoptions because they are very personal and caring. The wait and uncertainty of adoption seemed daunting, but A Gift of Hope helped make the process go smoothly, and we couldn’t be happier with our beautiful child.”