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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Credits: by Nancy S. Ashe
Note: Our authors are dedicated to honest, engaged, informed, intelligent, and open conversation about adoption. The opinions expressed here may not reflect the views of Adoption.com.