Many individuals and families across the country consider whether or not to foster a child. There are a lot of reasons you might want to foster a baby, toddler, or child. Perhaps you feel as if you have something to add to the child’s life, or you’d like to have the opportunity to provide a loving home.
Fostering a child can be a rewarding, amazing experience for many, but there are a lot of considerations that sometimes you might gloss over. You might think the negatives you hear about fostering a child won’t apply to you.
Maybe not, but it’s still important to be aware of the potential negatives and ensure you make an educated decision for yourself and your family.
To begin, many of the children in the foster care system are victims of abuse. That can lead to many challenges that you need to be prepared for, including emotional and educational challenges. As an example, abuse children are 77% more likely to require special education, so that will have to be something you think about.
Beyond that, the following are some things to know and ensure you consider as you think about fostering a child.
When children are removed from their family home, they are placed with foster parents while their birth parents work on improving their situation and creating a better environment.
You can go through different public agencies to learn more about fostering a child, and talking to a public adoption agency is usually a good starting point.
If you decide you would like to foster a child, you will meet with a local agency, and you would be paired with a caseworker. You would go through training, and the caseworker would also do a home study to ensure that you are a good candidate for fostering.
Then, you will go through a background check.
Many of the laws vary depending on the state, so you’ll have to check on the details of the process, depending on where you live.
The average age of children is nine years old, so if you want to foster a baby, that may not be an option.
One of the biggest issues people who work at foster care agencies say exist is that potential foster parents have unrealistic expectations. They may not want an older child or a child with special needs.
The Role of Birth Parents
Along with the day-to-day care of a foster child and potential emotional and behavioral problems, another big issue many foster parents face is the role of birth parents.
The goal of foster parents and foster agencies is to help reunite birth parents with their children.
Birth parents may have done awful things, but there may still be visitations, and ultimately, they may be reunited. You have to be able to remember that.
There’s also something else to consider.
There’s often a misconception that when you bring a foster child into your home, they’re going to be grateful to be there and be away from abuse or neglect.
That’s often not the case.
Children who grow up in abusive, chaotic, or harmful homes only know that reality. They might not like being in a safe, structured environment, and more often than not a foster child isn’t going to express gratitude or appreciation.
What Do You Need to Have?
If you want to be a foster parent, you’ll need to have enough space in your home.
Various state laws determine how many children can be in one room or how many square feet per child are required.
You’ll also have to consider your time and commitments currently, as well as your budget.
The state will provide you with a stipend for the basic needs of foster children, but it’s usually not much and won’t likely cover all of the costs of having a child in your home.
You’ll also need an emotional support system.
What a foster child needs most is a supportive, stable, and loving environment, and without having support of your own, it may be difficult to provide that.
Perhaps most important of all the things you need to have is patience.
Fostering a child is difficult, and if you aren’t patient or you can’t give without getting anything in return, it may not be right for you.
Finally, fostering a child isn’t permanent. The child will move on at some point, and you have to mentally prepare yourself to say goodbye from the start.