Foster parenting is an important and valuable role for parents who can show they have the aptitude and skills to do it well. Caring for others’ children is not easy. In fact, it is often challenging if not difficult. But the rewards are significant for everyone involved if the process is carefully followed.
Foster parents need an extra dose of patience and love for others. They must understand that the child who will be coming to live with them may have a troubled past or may struggle with various psychological or emotional disorders. Sometimes the child has a medical condition or is academically unmotivated. A foster child might have post traumatic stress syndrome from experiences in the family of origin or from being separated from biological parents and siblings.
A child placed with a foster family may be grateful and show it immediately. Other children clam up, unsure of their new environment or their feelings about it. Some are downright hostile. They don’t want to leave their current situation but are being forced into a foster family environment.
These children may be from families that don’t speak English or that previously lived in another country. Customs and language may be different, along with beliefs or values. It will take time for them to adapt to new parents, a new home, and a new way of doing things, which may include different foods and family activities.
Discipline can be especially trying. Some kids have had too much, and others, too little. A solid foster family will need to set healthy boundaries and explain disciplinary rewards and consequences for the child’s behavior.
Those who want to serve as foster parents should understand that the foster child is only with them on loan, in a manner of speaking. The child may be returned to children’s services, the biological parents, or an adoptive family at any time. This can be very difficult to foster parents who have grown attached to the child that has come to live with them.
Foster parenting requires a commitment to put the child’s interests ahead of their personal feelings or preferences. This may entail working with children’s services caseworkers, psychologists, counselors, guardians, probation officers, and court officials to provide a balanced plan of care for the foster child.
Usually there are meetings to attend, with or without the foster child. Sometimes training classes are required. The new addition and other children already living in the household must learn to get along and deal with possible tensions or conflicts. Territorial issues may erupt, just as they do in biological families. Parents must be careful not to show favoritism to any of the children involved.
Those who want to know more about how to become a foster parent should contact a local agency for information. They will be able to ask questions and get clarification about the points mentioned above along with any others they may be curious about.
The application process involves filling out regulatory forms and meeting with a professional caseworker to discuss the foster care program. References may be required. Interviewed will be conducted with the neighbors, and possibly the couple’s employers, relatives, and others who know them, such as clergy.
The caseworker will match the best available foster child with the family’s background and interests if possible. A meeting may be arranged between the parents and child beforehand to see how well they get along and if there are concerns on either side.
Being a foster parent is one of the most rewarding jobs there is. With the help of child service professionals and adequate preparation, both the parents and child will enjoy the opportunity to share each other’s lives.