Those that step up to become foster parents are some of the best people in the world. They know there is a need to help countless children in need, and they did something about it. However, there are certain things that all potential foster parents should know and understand before deciding on the matter.
It is never possible to be truly prepared for everything, especially not in the world of fostering and adoption. But that fact shouldn’t stop parents from trying. Research is a crucial element in the preparation process.
Honesty is Key
Honesty plays a huge role in the fostering process. Foster parents have to be honest with their children, their foster children, the officials they work with, and finally, themselves.
Before diving into foster care, take a moment to evaluate yourself. Be as brutally honest as possible, as this is critical. Take a look at yourself, statements from foster parents out there, and your family/housing situation. Does it feel like you could make a difference in their life? Do you think you can handle the ups and downs that come with fostering? What will you do if it doesn’t work out? How will you react to becoming attached to a foster child?
At the end of the day, parents will become attached to their foster child. They aren’t running a hotel, with kids coming and going with each passing day. They are stepping up to become a child’s guardian, even if only in the short term.
As such, foster parents should prepare themselves for the inevitable moment when they find themselves emotionally attached. Sometimes that bond can be stronger with certain children. More than anything: be ready to open your hearts to them.
Don’t Take It Personally
One lesson foster parents must learn early on is this: don’t take it personally. Sometimes foster children will act out or treat their foster parents negatively. This isn’t personal – they have been through a lot in their short life and are still working through how to process that trauma.
Sometimes, foster children will strike out simply because they fear attachment. The key here is to be patient and continue working with them as much as possible. And, of course, not to take their responses to heart.
When it comes to foster care, patience truly is a virtue—an essential one. Foster parents need to learn how to be patient with their charges, caseworkers, the system, birth parents, and even themselves. Failure to do so can cause more harm than good, especially in the long run.