The road to becoming a foster family is a long one, taking parents years before choosing to open their home to children in need. These nine considerations may help make your decision a little easier.
1. The circle of communication casts a wide net. In addition to daily conversations with the foster child, foster parents communicate with a variety of people, including the birth family, teachers and school officials, therapists, social workers, judges and court-appointed case workers, not to mention your family and friends, who are curious about your role as a foster parent.'
2. Good beginnings. The first day with your foster child in your home establishes your relationship with the child.
3. How good are you at good-bye? In addition to challenging your patience, tenacity and compassion, your ability to say good-bye to a child you’ve grown to love—and who is now a part of your family—will be tested.
4. We’re all in. Every member of your immediate family, even a hesitant husband, needs to be on board with this decision. Adding to the family, even if just temporary, shifts the natural flow of your home.
5. They might not understand. Not every friend and family member will support your decision to become a foster family, and that’s OK.
6. Don’t let ‘em see you sweat. Maintaining your cool can be tough. Foster children push limits. Often they have endured extreme abuse and neglect, often at a young age. They may communicate through negative behaviors. Avoid the temptation to use abusive or negative discipline, especially during times of stress.
7. Broken hearts. Many times a child grieving the loss of their home and family can trigger responses in foster parents. Grief is very personal and each child will go through grief at his own pace. It's important to understand the grief and loss process in children so that we may be better able to meet their needs.
8. Not necessarily forever. The focus is on placing a child with relatives first if the child is unable to return home to his birth parents. Accept that you may not be able to complete a foster care adoption of the child you are fostering.
9. Maybe next year. Perhaps you want to foster, but today is not the right time. That’s OK. There are several things you can do now to prepare yourself and your family to becoming foster parents next year.
Claire Yezbak Fadden is an award-winning freelance writer and mother of three sons. Follow her on Twitter @claireflaire.
Published: April 2014