Perhaps, you’ve always dreamed about fostering a child. You’ve always wanted to give back and help a child in need. However, have you considered if you are truly prepared to provide a child with a good life? A good life includes more than unconditional love. It includes financial stability, patience, understanding and forgiveness.
Before deciding to make a social good by taking in a foster child, think about all the factors involved and whether you will positively impact not only your own life and family but that of your foster child.
Do you consider yourself to be an emotionally strong person? Have you persevered through adversity? Think about your own life experiences and reflect as to whether you could handle the worst case scenario as a foster parent. If you are emotionally stable and can handle the ups and downs of helping to raise a child who is not biologically yours, then you may be able to handle this responsibility. How do you feel about authority?
As a foster parent, you must be comfortable with not only communicating with social workers, but having them visit your home frequently. While the foster child is in your care, you are still required to report to the proper authorities, ensuring the safety and well being of the child.
While many foster parents have great intentions, they mistakenly believe that their foster kids will be excited to escape a bad living situation with their birth parents and be grateful to have found a haven. However, this could not be further from the truth. If a foster youth only has experienced abuse, it will be an adjustment to live in an abuse-free home.
It is the responsibility of the foster parent to be patient, firm and loving, while building rapport with the foster child. If you are a patient person who is interested in learning about the truth regarding the psychological, emotional, physical and/or sexual trauma that your foster child may have experienced, then you will be one step more informed and ready to be a good support system.
Additionally, many foster care services encourage that you not only ensure the child’s safety, but open a new world to them, one that is healthy and enriching. For example, Perpetual Fostering foster care services includes introducing your foster children to new experiences, even if they don’t appear to be interested in them at first. Because of their previous experiences, it may take foster children a while to adjust. They need patience and understanding to guide them through the process.
Even though you will receive financial support to take care of your foster child’s needs, including food and clothing, you may find that this is not enough to provide a good life for this child, while in your care. If you would like to take local day trips with your foster child or even enroll the youth in an extracurricular activity, you will have to pay for these outings and lessons out of your own pocket.
If you are already financially struggling on your own, it may prove difficult to take care of another person. Before signing up as a foster parent, create a new budget and see if you could afford these extra expenses.
If you suffer from anxiety and can be easily rattled by change or unexpected behavior, then fostering a child may be a complicated undertaking in your life. Foster children can be unpredictable as many have suffered serious traumas either from living with their birth parents or other foster parents before you.
Before exploring the option of being a foster parent, talk to a psychologist about the possible mental challenges that you may encounter. While it is admirable to want to help a child in need, it is important for both the child as well as you that your mental health is not compromised by becoming a foster parent.
Bringing in a new child into your home may be a blessing for your family. They may accept the foster child as their own sibling, child, etc. However, this is an issue that needs to be carefully discussed ahead of time. It is advised that you also discuss how introducing another child in your current family dynamic will affect your household.
If you have children, they may experience jealousy if your attention is now divided. If you have a special needs child, will you have the time and resources to manage and care for each child? Married couples must also be on the same page when it comes to fostering a child. If one spouse does not have a passion for fostering children, then this may prove to be a strain on the marriage and cause tension in the household for all.
Can you say goodbye even if there may not be a “see you later” involved? While there are birth parents who may allow the foster parents to stay in contact with the child, this is not a guaranteed option. When a foster child enters your home, it is a temporary living situation unless you decide that you would like to adopt.
Even if you want to adopt your foster child, this can be a long process with no promises. The court may mandate the child to go back to the biological parents or family. Knowing that you and your family will become attached and grow to love your foster child, will you be comfortable with saying goodbye when the time comes?
Your intentions play a huge factor in whether you should foster a youth, but they shouldn’t be the only factors involved in your decision-making process. Because fostering a child is a major life decision, it is essential that you review from all the possible benefits and difficulties of introducing a foster youth into your home and heart.
If you review all the factors and realize that you can provide a great, stable home for a young person, then this can be a beautiful, complex and rewarding experience for both parties.