If you’re single and wondering if you can be a foster parent, the answer is yes, you absolutely can! Specific criteria vary across agencies, but generally speaking, marital status is not a factor. If you can offer a child a loving, supportive, and safe home, there is a place for you as a foster parent. But if you want to do it well and not burn out, you’re going to need some help. Now is the time to rally your tribe and marshal your resources.
Start with friends and family
Tell your friends and family that you want to become a foster parent, and tell them why. These are people who already know and love you, and there’s a good chance they’ll be ready and willing to support you. Even if some people aren’t on board right away, don’t despair–just give them some space and focus on the ones who are in your corner.
Connect with other foster parents
Make a concentrated effort to build relationships with other foster parents, single or married. They are in the unique position of understanding what you’re going through. See if there is a local foster parent association you can join. Look for a support group that meets on a regular basis. Ask your agency if they can partner you with someone who has been doing this for a while. Fellow foster parents can be practical help (childcare, for example), but also significant emotional support.
Find community resources
Find a daycare provider who understands the unique needs of foster kids and single parents, and who can handle things like a social worker picking the child up in the middle of the day for family visits. Look for a pediatrician who has experience with foster and adopted children–you may not be able to choose your foster child’s doctor, but if you can, a foster care-competent one can be a huge blessing.
Utilize services that save you time and energy. Focus your time and effort on the things that only you can do, and look for ways to outsource the rest. Hire someone to clean your house once a week, use a delivery service for groceries, or find a babysitter who can give you some time off on a regular basis.
Accept help when it’s offered, and don’t be afraid to ask for it
Many people will offer to help you–accept it, even if it feels awkward. You can’t do it all, and you don’t have to. More importantly, ask for help when you need it. This is necessary for your sanity, and in the end, it’s what is best for your children.
Fostering as a single parent is not an easy journey, but it is possible and the rewards are definitely worth it.