You are probably considering being a foster parent. You are in the right place. Before you decide whether to foster a child, consider asking yourself some crucial questions. These will help you determine if it is the right path for you.
You can foster a child even if you are single. But you need to have a strong support system. On the other hand, if you are married, your marriage should remain your priority. You and your spouse should always be on the same page regarding bringing a child into your lives.
What is Foster Care?
Foster care is a system in which a child or a minor is temporarily placed into a ward, group home, with a relative approved by the state, or into your home, provided that you are a state-certified caregiver. You will then be referred to as a foster parent.
Although this system is temporary, every foster child will require a stable and nurturing environment, so they grow to be healthy individuals, emotionally and physically. As a foster parent, your goal is to bridge the gap until their family reunites or a placement with an adoptive family becomes available.
Here are the questions to ask yourself before going into foster care:
What is my purpose?
Being a foster parent or family can be a rewarding experience. But it can take significant energy, finances, resources, and time. Before taking the plunge, it is best to pause and weigh all options. If you’re married and with kids of your own, discuss why you want to foster. Ensure that everyone is on board because this endeavor takes a family effort to have a good fostering experience.
Understand that not all fostering experiences will have an outcome of adoption. The priority of most fostering cases is that the child will be reunited with their family. If adoption is your goal through fostering, you may want to choose a different path.
A common misconception is that fostering is about getting a child for yourself or your family. But in reality, it is more about giving and sharing yourself or your family with a child in need. It means that your focus should be on giving rather than receiving. Fostering offers endless blessings and joy. As with all your other major life undertakings, check your intentions.
Will I be able to love my foster child as my own?
This is an important question only you can answer. Whether you are already a parent or not, you must be aware that foster children bring with them a myriad of possibilities. While some will be easy, others can be pretty challenging. They can be older than what you expect. Some might have medical needs or difficult behaviors.
Find it in yourself if you are ready to parent these children under any circumstance. As a parent, know that the needs of a child must come first. Before committing to the system, make sure you are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices to take care of a child.
What parenting skills or experiences do I have?
Child care is a full-time job. It requires commitment and passion. Many children from foster care have experienced some level of trauma from being displaced from their families. They might display challenging behaviors, resentment, and anger. How do you deal with these?
If you are a parent, you know that every child is unique. You cannot always utilize the same set of approaches for two different children. Caring for a foster child must come from a place of understanding. Always remember that these children need a safe space and a loving home.
Do I have a strong support system?
You are bringing a new member of the family into your household. Don’t try to do it alone. It would help if you had your whole community of family and friends behind you. Ensure you have a secure financial, emotional, social, and family support system.
No question is too ludicrous to ask when it comes to ensuring you are doing things correctly. No help is too big to seek in case of an emergency, educational support, training for difficult emotional situations, etc.
Another vital thing to remember is that foster care is temporary. The primary goal is reunification with their biological parents. After caring for them for several months to a year, will you be ready to give them back? This is another situation where you will require a strong support system. If you don’t have it now, build one.
What are the costs of fostering a child?
Fostering a child is a costly endeavor. It is essential to recognize that it will take a hefty investment of your finances, time, energy, resources, and emotional support. But that is not all. You should also be aware that there will be moments of heartbreak, disappointment, frustration, and anger. It will either make or break you.
Nevertheless, it will be unfair not to say that there will also be beautiful experiences, moments of bliss, and a sense of fulfillment. Yes, you can get all these from knowing that you are making a difference in your foster child’s life.
Am I okay with working with a foster care team?
After deciding to dive into foster care, your social workers and therapists will do their job and pry into your personal life. State laws dictate general requirements for foster care. So your foster care team will dig deep and look into your source of income, sexual orientation, marriage, family, residence, and others that might affect the interests of the child you will be taking in.
You will also need to participate in a home study to determine your readiness for fostering. They need to do this to determine if your home and environment are safe and suitable for raising a child. Nevertheless, working with your team can provide services and support to help guide you through the process.
Under certain circumstances, the biological parents will be part of the team. They might require communication while working to meet their reunification plan. Depending on what was agreed, you might also need to provide them with journals, photos, updates, and support while they work towards getting their child back.
How will this child change my life?
When you participate in foster care, you don’t just bring a child into your home. You get them into your life, your marriage, or your family. There will always be adjustments and changes. At the very least, make sure that everybody is ready.
Keep open communication and ensure that every voice is heard. Be connected throughout the process. Make everyone know that all their feelings are valid. Constantly remind everyone that foster care can be a gift to each of you, especially to your foster child.
If you’re seriously considering taking in a foster child in Colorado, contact Courage Community Foster Care. We can help you through every part of the foster parenting experience! We can set up a consultation, discuss your concerns, and start the process. Call us at 719-321-4319. You can also inquire at P.O. Box 262 Cascade, CO 80809 or kerrih@FosterCourage.com.