Fostering 101 – Food for Thought

Below are questions to ask yourself and your family as you consider whether or not fostering is right for you. Give each point serious thought, and be honest in your answers. Deciding to become a foster family is a very big decision, and it is important everyone is on board when you take the next step.

Do you have a strong support system of friends/and or family?

This is very important, as fostering can become very stressful at times. It is good to have someone who will listen if you need to vent.

Are you a patient person?

Are you willing to give continually without getting anything in return, except knowing you are helping a child and their family?

Are you an accepting person?

Are you and your family accepting of other backgrounds, cultures, religions, sexual orientations and family values? Are you able to support a child without passing judgment on his/her life?

Do you have realistic expectations?

Many people believe that by becoming a foster parent, they will be “rescuing” a child from an abusive parent. They believe these children will be grateful and relieved to be out of their home situation. This is rarely the case, as the child is being removed from the only life they knew. Be prepared for the child to be anything but grateful and happy at first. Make sure your expectations for the child are realistic, as well as your expectations of the Ministry and the fostering experience itself.

Are you able to not take things personally?

Children in care often have been neglected, and/or physically, sexually, mentally, or emotionally abused. These children and youth can be angry, resentful and sad, and may take it out on their foster parents (usually the foster mother). Are you able to deal with this and not take it personally?

Are you willing to have a “flood” of people through your home?

Social workers, resource workers and other specialists will be a part of your foster child’s life. Can you work in a partnership with a team of professionals to help the child return home, or to another permanent placement?

What children can you parent at this time?

If you have your own children, consider their ages, and where another child would fit into your family. Consider the sex of the child. What behaviours do you feel you can and cannot parent at this time? Be aware that many behaviours don’t surface until the child feels safe enough to be him/herself. Remember that the social worker may not be fully aware of the child’s behaviour at time of placement. Be sure your children are on board. They will have to share their toys, their home, their parents. They sacrifice a lot to become a foster family.

Can you say goodbye?

Foster care is not a permanent arrangement. What you are asked to do is bring a child into your home, love them as your own, but still be able to say goodbye when they are returned to their biological parents or a permanent home is found. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you and your family won’t attach to this child. You will. And that is a good thing. If they are able to attach and trust you, they will be able to trust and attach to others.

 

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