Is Fostering Right for Me?
Providing a stable and loving home for a child in need is a truly rewarding experience, but it does not come without challenges. If you are strongly considering becoming a foster parent, but still unsure whether or not this is the right path for you, perhaps the following questions will help.
1). Why do I want to become a foster parent?
What is your motivation for fostering or adopting a child? Some may hesitate to assume that there are right and wrong reasons to become a foster parent, but certainly there are reasons that could ultimately result in an unsuccessful placement. Your reason to become a foster parent should relate to a desire to become a positive influence in a child's life. Many individuals choose to become foster parents out of an altruistic desire to help children in need of a home. This motivation is strongly correlated with successful foster parenting. Therefore, being serious with yourself about your motivation is the best thing you can do for your future child(ren).
2). How do I know if I'm ready to become a foster parent?
You are ready to be a foster parent if you are ready to accept a child into your family and give them the love, care and commitment that you would give your own child while respecting the child’s history, culture and family relationships. Foster parenting requires sensitivity, flexibility and selflessness. If you have these qualifications and you can safely care for a child, you are ready to start the process.
3). How will fostering affect my household?
Fostering can provide your family unit with a number of benefits, such as learning compassion and what creates the bond of a family. However, bringing a child from the foster care system into your home will certainly put a new stress on your household unit. Consider feelings of everyone in the family, including your own children. If someone in your household is uncomfortable with the prospect of becoming a foster family, discuss his or her concerns with the family. You may even share your own unease and be able to help one another overcome these challenges. FHHFOC will need to interview all household members in order to access readiness and level of support.
4). Do my financial resources play an important role in me becoming a foster parent?
While it is true that you do not have to be wealthy to become a foster parent, you MUST have enough income to adequately meet your own family's needs without relying solely on the support of the foster parent stipend. The stipend helps to offset financial costs of taking a child into your home, but it should never be considered as the sole source of income. So if you are financially strapped and having difficulty making ends meet, adding another person to your family will not magically make your income increase. During the certification process, you will be asked to provide proof of income and to review your family's expenses.
5). Is my support system agreeable to this particular decision?
This is a key area potential foster parents should explore. A support system may include family, friends, neighbors, a church group, teachers, coaches and/or other foster parents (just to name a few). A support system is vital to helping you and your family adjust to the ever changing demands of foster parenting and could likely be a source of strength through your parenting journey. Conversely, it could also create conflict and confusion if not all family members or support persons are on board. Soliciting support and establishing clear expectations up front is extremely important.
6). Am I okay with having strangers and experts in my life on a regular basis?
Many of our children have experienced a great deal of trauma. Many may have attachment or behavior problems and most have an initial problem with trust. There will be a host of experienced professionals from whom you can draw support. This may include FHHFOC staff, DSS workers, therapists, medical professionals, other treatment team members, and court appointed advocates. The number and degree of people in your life will vary by child so if you crave privacy and exclusiveness, then perhaps fostering is not right for you.