What is the difference between adoption and fostering? When you foster a child, you are caring for them on behalf of the Local Authority and the birth parents. You have no legal rights or responsibilities in respect of the child. It is usually a temporary arrangement, although some fostering placements can be long-term. When you adopt a child you become their legal parent. This is permanent and the child has exactly the same legal status in your family as any other family member, which continues throughout their lifetime.