Before embarking on a journey that is as important as adoption through the foster care system, it’s important to make sure you are well educated on the entire subject. Becoming a foster parent entails a skill set not everyone has. Certainly, it can be a tremendously rewarding experience if the fit is right, but it helps to know exactly what this skill set can involve. The following is a five-item checklist of sorts that may help you in deciding if fostering is the right thing for you.
1. Communication is key
Know that, as a foster parent, not only will you need to be able to communicate well with the child, but you will also need to effectively communicate with any combination of the following people:
- Social workers
- Birth family members
- Other foster parents
- Judges and other court personnel
2. Have a firm grasp of who you really are
First of all, there are some basic qualifications to being a foster parent, and they vary from state to state. Do your homework and find out if you meet the requirements for where you live.
Next, understand that fostering will have a large impact on your current family dynamic. If you already have children, you should know how this could potentially affect them. Also, realize that not everybody in your extended family and circle of close friends may endorse the idea that you are planning to foster a child who needs a good home and a loving family. Do your best to tolerate their concerns, and continue on to make your own decision about what’s best for your family’s needs and situation.
3. Prepare for challenges
You will be challenged not only by the child you foster, but also by the very system itself and the legal mumbo jumbo that may follow. Paperwork, red tape, and frustrating levels of blatant and bullish bureaucracy can derail your valiant attempts to do something good and extend the love in your family and the world around it. Try to stay the course and be persistent, and above all, stay calm and compassionate for everyone involved. If you adhere to these principles, hopefully it will all work out in the end. If, for some reason, it doesn’t, remember that you stood your ground and tried to do what you thought was best at all times. Chances are, the good karma you create will come back to you, eventually.
4. Attachment and bonding can be difficult
Sadly, many children in the foster care system have endured extreme abuse and neglect on many different levels. It’s enough to break the heart of even the most stoic and indifferent of souls. If this is something that you are unable to deal with, then you need to reexamine if fostering is the right fit for you. Because many children in the foster system have experienced these awful situations, the child you agree to foster, and perhaps hope to adopt one day, may have great difficulty bonding with you and trusting you. Understand that this lack of trust may present itself through patterns of behavior that are very difficult to manage. Before acknowledging that fostering is something you want to pursue to the fullest, educate yourself on how to best manage the challenging behaviors that may potentially arrive with the child.
5. It’s not right for everybody
After fully exploring the world of becoming a foster parent, understand that it is okay if it’s not for you. My wife, Amy, and I initially looked into becoming foster parents and decided that maybe it just wasn’t right for us at that particular time. We proceeded to explore the world of domestic infant adoption instead, and were blessed with the adoption of our daughter Madeline, some time later. Fostering isn’t for everybody, and that is completely okay. Don’t beat yourself up over it. There can be other methods of adoption that may be just the right fit for you. There is no one right way for everybody. Whatever calls to you is the right thing for you and your family. Besides, if fostering isn’t right for you now, that’s not to say it won’t be right for you at a later time either. To gain a better understanding of the foster system and becoming a foster parent, feel free to begin your research through the many resources of Adopion.com by clicking here.
Thanks for reading and good luck to all!