Foster is defined as the act of nurturing, bringing up, encouraging, or cultivating. It involves providing parental care to someone who is not legally or biologically related to you. Raising a foster child requires a significant amount of nurturing, guidance, and support. It also involves attending various meetings and completing paperwork. As a foster parent, you have the crucial role of providing new opportunities to the child that they may not have had otherwise. Here are some of the responsibilities of a foster parent:
- Guiding the birth family and assisting them with family reunification.
- Helping the child so he/she can graduate from high school and attend college.
- Let the child enjoy some summer fun, especially if he/she has never experienced a sprinkler before.
- Encourage the child to rise above their problems in the past so that they can move on with their lives.
- Maintain a connection with your former foster child who is already a parent, and you should not mind being a grandparent.
Do You Want to Become a Foster Parent?
Every state has its own specific rules and regulations regarding foster parenting. If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, the first step is to visit the legal department or relevant agency in your state. You will need to complete an application form, which is often available online in many states. The application will require general information about your home and family, as well as your motivations for wanting to foster a child. You will also have the opportunity to indicate the age range of the child you prefer, such as a toddler, infant, teenager, or older child.
Once you have submitted your application, you will typically be required to attend an orientation class with other prospective foster parents. This class is not a one-on-one lecture but rather a group activity where you will receive instructions, have the chance to ask questions, and prepare yourself for the journey ahead. It is also an opportunity to express any concerns you may have.
In most cases, the process of becoming a foster parent includes a home study. A social worker will visit your residence to meet you and other family members, ensuring that your home is safe and nurturing. It is important to note that you will not be judged based on factors such as race, marital status, religion, or gender, as these should not be considerations. However, age can play a role, and generally, foster parents should be at least 21 years old. The home study process typically involves five to ten visits to your home.
The Anticipation of Letting Go
As a foster parent, it is essential to understand and embrace the concept of letting go. The primary goal of foster care is to provide a temporary home for the child until they can be reunited with their birth parents.
In some cases, the child may have been removed from their home due to certain circumstances, and the state aims to address and resolve these issues to facilitate the reunification of the family.
However, if reunification is not possible, the child may be placed for adoption. Foster parents are often given priority for adoption, but if you have personal reasons for not pursuing adoption, the child will be placed in a new home. It is important to acknowledge and prepare for the possibility that the child may transition to a different family and to support them through this process of change and adjustment.
How to Decide If Fostering a Child Is for You
When discussing the possibility of becoming a foster parent with your spouse, it is natural for them to have concerns and fears. That is why it is important to start by taking training classes to address these concerns and gain the necessary skills. As a first-time foster parent, it is normal to feel nervous about welcoming a foster child into your home. However, with the knowledge and expertise acquired from the training classes, you can feel confident and well-prepared to embark on the journey of becoming foster parents.
Important Questions to Ask Yourself
After you have gathered some information from the foster care agency, the next thing to do is to ask yourself some of these questions:
Do You Have a Solid Support System?
Fostering a child can be a challenging and stressful experience, which is why having a reliable support system is essential. It is important to have someone who can listen to you and provide support as you navigate through the challenges.
If you don’t currently have a support system in place, you can consider joining support groups. Many agencies organize their own support group meetings for foster parents. If there are no existing support groups, you can even consider creating one with other foster parents in similar situations.
Do You Have a Lot of Patience?
Are you willing to give without expecting much in return, except for the satisfaction of knowing you’ve made a positive impact on a family? Are you prepared to handle the challenges of having a child who may be unhappy in your home?
Many people enter foster parenting with the belief that they are rescuing a child from an abusive situation and that the child will be grateful to have left their home. However, the reality is often different. For the child, abuse may be all they know, and difficult circumstances may be their norm.
It’s important to prepare yourself for the possibility that the child may not feel happy or grateful in your home. This requires managing your expectations and considering what you truly expect from the child, their parents, and the fostering experience as a whole. Remember that having overly high expectations can increase the likelihood of disappointment or failure.
Are You Prepared for the Emotional Challenges?
It’s important not to take it personally when a child in foster care exhibits challenging behavior. These children may have experienced neglect or various forms of abuse—emotional, mental, sexual, or physical.
Consequently, they may feel sadness, resentment, or anger. As their foster parent, it’s possible they may direct some of these emotions toward you. Dealing with these situations can be more challenging than it may initially seem, particularly if the child expresses a desire to push you away.
Are You Comfortable with Social Workers Visiting Your Home?
It’s common for social workers to visit your home on a monthly basis. Are you willing to collaborate with these professionals to ensure the best outcome for the child, whether it’s reunification with their birth family or finding a suitable adoption placement?
Keep in mind that this process requires strong communication skills and a commitment to following the guidelines and plans established by the social workers.
Can You Handle Goodbyes?
One of the most important aspects of foster care to keep in mind is that it is not a permanent arrangement. It’s essential to accept that these children will eventually move on.
While it’s natural to form attachments and develop strong bonds with the child, understanding the temporary nature of the relationship is crucial. Building a secure attachment can have a positive impact on both you and the child, as it fosters trust and helps them develop healthier relationships in the future.
If you’re interested in becoming a foster parent in Colorado, you can reach out to Courage Community Foster Care. Feel free to call us at 719-321-4319 or send us an email at kerrih@FosterCourage.com.