The decision has finally been made! You want to be a foster parent. You know it will be a sacrifice; it could tug at your heartstrings; it will use your time, talents and energy. But you’re ready for the challenge and excited to share your heart. You’ve already done the research:  paperwork, home studies, background checks, and more. It feels right, and it’s time to jump in. But first a personal inventory is essential.

1. What if I’m offered a child who is part of a sibling group?  Can I carve out the necessary time for family visits? Better yet, can I open my home to include the siblings? Am I prepared to deal with the emotional impact of my foster child being separated from his/her siblings?

2. Does the race of the child matter? It may not matter to me, but would it matter to the child? Will the child be attending school as the only minority? Can I help a child of another race feel comfortable, loved and accepted by me? Will I be accepted by the child?

3. Does the child have special needs? Am I able to physically care for a child with specific needs? Do I have someone close to me who can help me understand how to best care for a special needs child? Do I have the patience to emotionally care for a child with special needs?  Do I have the time to take the child to extra medical visits, school counseling, etc.?

4. Why has the child come into care of the state? Am I equipped to deal with a child who has suffered sexual abuse? Will attachment issues be too hard to handle? Do I have the skills to appropriately help a child who acts out?

5. How long will this child be with me? Am I prepared for short-term or long-term parenting of a child? What will be required of me as far as parental visits? Am I emotionally prepared to love the child, then say good-bye?

As these questions are considered and answered, they will lead to more questions. Thoroughly examining your feelings, your knowledge and your skills will help to ensure proper placement and success for you and the child as you provide foster care. Open discussion with the social worker will be appreciated by all who are involved in helping foster children. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the social worker . . . and don’t be afraid to ask questions of yourself.  Foster parenting can be a joyful, fulfilling journey.  Proper research and introspective examination will ensure success.