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Exploring Foster Parenting

Foster parents provide a temporary, safe home for children in crisis. They are part of the child’s support, treatment, and care programs. They are partners of the child’s social worker, attorney, teachers, and doctors. Being a foster parent is not a passive act of opening one’s home and providing food, clothing, and shelter. For some it’s a first step toward adoption.

For others it’s a proactive statement of nurturing, advocacy, and love. But it’s not for everyone.

Children who need foster families have been removed from their birth family homes for reasons of neglect, abuse, abandonment, or other issues endangering their health and/or safety. Many of these children are filled with fear, anger, confusion, or a sense of powerlessness at having been removed from the only home they have ever known. Many are sibling groups, older children, or young teens. Some have developmental, physical, emotional, or behavioral problems.

They all need safe, supportive environments.

Can You?

These are questions to ask yourself before taking the next step:Can you love and care for a child who has come from a difficult background?

  • Can you love and care for a child who has come from a difficult background?
  • Can you help a child develop a sense of belonging in your home even though the stay is temporary?
  • Can you love a child who, because of a fear of rejection, does not easily love you back?
  • Are you secure in yourself and your parenting skills?
  • Can you set clear limits, and be both firm and understanding in your discipline?
  • Do you view bed-wetting, lying, defiance, and minor destructiveness as symptoms of a child in need?
  • Can you tolerate major failures and small successes?
  • Can you accept assistance and guidance from trained social workers?
  • Can you maintain a positive attitude toward a child’s parents; even though many of the problems the child is experiencing is a direct result of the parent’s actions?
  • Can you love with all of your heart and then let go?

Financial Assistance

All states offer financial support. The amount varies from state to state, but in all cases, you must be able to prove that your current family needs can be met without having to use any of this income. Many states also offer clothing, daycare and/or day camp allowances.

Other Requirements

Requirements to become a foster parent vary from state to state, but this list covers the basics. Be sure to check with the Foster Care Specialist (or equivalent) in your state or province for detailed information.
  • Be at least 21 years old.
  • Have enough room (and beds) in your home for a foster child to sleep and keep his or her belongings.
  • Live in a home that can meet basic fire, safety and sanitary standards.
  • Be physically and emotionally capable of caring for children and have no alcohol or drug abuse problems.
  • Be able to pass a criminal background check and have no substantiated record of abusing or neglecting children.
  • Make enough money to provide for your own family, so you do not need to depend on the foster care reimbursement you receive from the state as income.

What Kind of Training is Needed?

Pre-placement training is required to help prepare prospective foster parents for issues that can arise after a child or sibling group is placed with them. Many children bring not only unique special needs, but a history of life experiences that may affect interactions with foster parents, other children in the family, school mates, and others. Issues related to disability, culture, early abuse, birth family members, etc., should be discussed with your social worker to your satisfaction.

These training and licensing programs go by various names (MAPP and others) and online training programs are also available. Check the list of state training requirements, and your foster care specialist can provide more information.

It Isn’t for Everyone

There are many reasons you may not want, or be able, to become a foster parent. Even those with the best intentions have found the demands to be heartbreaking or too disrupting to their households.

Sheri and Bob were foster parents to children from infants to 18 and found that while it was a rewarding experience, it wasn’t something they would choose again.

Interested?

If you are aware of the potential difficulties as well as the enormous rewards and think foster parenting is for you, consider the different types of foster care, contact your state Foster Care Specialist (or equivalent) to learn about training classes, and other licensing procedures.

A Word About Adoption

According to the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse, 64% of chidren adopted from foster care are adopted by former foster parents. Many approach foster parenting as the first step toward adoption. While foster parents are sometimes the first choice when a child in their care becomes available for adoption, it is wise to listen to the words of an experienced foster parent:
There are children who will in fact come to your home and have no one and if you would like to adopt a child like this, wonderful. But, many if not most of these children have families and the objective is to find a safe healthy place within these families for them to live. Don’t try and keep a child who is wanted. Save that space and that place in your heart and home for that child who has no one and, believe me, they are out there.

Additional Reading:

Credits: by Nancy S. Ashe

Visitor Comments (19)
Adding your comments contributes to the adoption community. Please keep all comments on topic and civil. Visitors are invited to comment and vote for or flag comments based on appropriateness and helpfulness. All comments must adhere to our commenting rules and are subject to moderation.
Kenika - 1 year ago
0 0 4
Becoming a foster parent is something that I been thinking about for over few years now. I'm 33 and have no kids of my own but have 5 God kids. I been in the medical field over 14 years, so I know I have the heart and ability to take care of a child however, getting so attach is what got me hesitant. I been reading and doing my studies of becoming a foster parent, but it still haven't made my decision any easier. But I would love to care for a child. #1
Maira - 12 months ago
0 0 2
I would love to become a foster parent, I believe that I have so much to offer to children. I have 3 children of my own that I love an care for so much.Just to know that their are children that need someone or a family to love and care for touches my heart. I believe that it is a honor to take care or love another human being. #2
Naomi - 5 months ago
0 0 1
I would love to become a foster parent this has been a passion of mine growing up when I became of age I babysat 6-8 children them being my Nieces. I have 3 grown children of my own whom are now adults. These past years 14 years I have done private care providing for an adult as well as child providing this is something I love to do. #3
Cindy - 1 month ago
0 0 1
I have been thinking about fostering a child. I have a nice home and I live alone. I have a big heart and love kids of all ages. I am also a gay female woman age 51. Would my lifestyle hinder me from becoming a foster parent? #4
Guest - 11 months ago
0 0 2
I am 62 years old have one daughter and a grandaughter. Interested to know if I can be a parent to infants. Good health, retired, and a good home to ofter. #5
Mary - 6 months ago
0 0 1
I would love to become a foster parent, I do not have children of my own and would love to give my love, time and guidance to a child. #6
Anikia - 1 month ago
I have recently thougth about becoming a Foster Parent with option of Adoption.. I have one adult son and two young daugthers, and would love to have a chance to take care of a child who is simply looking for someone to love them. I had some what of hard childhood and growning up God has placed this special type of Love in me that I'am willing and wanting t0o share with other Children with similar back grounds. #7
vernisa - 10 months ago
0 0 1
I would like to become a Foster parent and would Luke to no what I need to become one #8
Shirley K Clarke - 6 months ago
0 0 0
The reason why I am thinking about becoming a foster parent is that I have so much love to give. However I do have grandchildren that has grown up and do not need the consent attention and love that I have to give. I am a student myself and with children we can study at home. I think that when children see you applying yourself in a positive manner they will do the same. #9
vanessa hartsfield - 1 year ago
0 1 2
I WOULD LOVE TO BECOME A FOSTER PARENT. xxxx. I have two kids of my own my son going on 3 and my daughter 5. #10
Janice - 1 year ago
0 0 1
I am 35 yrs. old and I have recently found out that I can't conceive. I would love to be a foster parent because I have so much love to share with a child or children. I just love kids with all of my heart. #11
lisa - 3 months ago
i'm a mom and a mother and i have so much love to give and so much time to share.How do i get started Thank you #12
Otila desper - 1 year ago
0 0 1
I have no kids of my own just pets... I was never able to have any... I own my own home and am single and work .. I would to have a baby or young child... But would I be able to take them to day care ?? #13
Dawn - 1 year ago
0 0 1
I want to be a foster parent because I have a lot of love and teachings and I was a fosterchild #14
Debbie Fenstermaker - 2 months ago
I would love to foster. Is 53 to old and I have a bad heart would that maker any difference #15
angela - 1 year ago
0 1 2
i would love to foster kids #16
alma - 9 months ago
i would like to become a foster parent.so where do i start #17
lashun - 9 months ago
1 1 0
I would love to become a foster parent again, I've had the privileged of taking care and adopting two kids that were in my care. Now that they are grown,moved on and have kids of their own. I know in my heart it's time to make someone else happy because that's what I love to. #18
Craig - 1 year ago
2 1 2
great Overview/Introduction #19
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