Being kid-friendly, having the ability to manage kids and playing with them is just one side of the picture. There’s a lot more that goes into fostering a child. And it’s necessary that you make a calculated decision before taking this life-changing step of being responsible for another human life.
You will have to take a practical approach to this decision, identify the possible problems that could arise and prepare for them in advance. While it’s tough to predict every possible situation, at least identifying the problems will help in dealing with tough circumstances better.
We’ve chalked down some of the situations that you’ll need to consider before deciding to become a foster parent.
- Be Prepared for Hostile Behaviour – You may feel that the child who you’re fostering will be grateful to you and always be indebted to you for your good deed. But this is a common misconception. But children who need foster homes have most probably gone through a lot of trauma, and have lived in tough conditions. They tend to be very cautious and will not open up easily. In fact, in many cases these children will need additional counseling to get used to a regular home. So be prepared, and plan accordingly.
- Patience Will Be the Need of the Hour – Foster parents will needs tons of patience and then some more. You will be obligated to constantly give and receive nothing in return, except the satisfaction that you’re helping better someone’s life. Your foster child may be cranky and aggressive and throw tantrums for everything. It is only through patience that you’ll be able to get over this initial tough phase.
- Provide Regular Updates to Social Service Officials – You will have to work with social service officials to discuss the progress of the child you’re fostering and also take tough decisions like preparing the child to move back to his home or move into a new home. The officials will regularly visit your home, and every time they come you’ll have to be prepared to part with your foster child. This is one of the toughest parts of being a foster parent. This article about what foster carers do will offer more insights into the responsibilities of a foster parent.
- Have a Fall-back Support System – While the foster child will need his share of counseling and help, you will also have to be prepared with a fall-back support system to get you through the tough days. This group could be your immediate family members or a professional group that helps foster parents deal with tough situations. In fact, it’s best to keep your immediate family and friends in the loop regarding this decision. Ask them upfront if they’re willing to help if required. This way you’ll have a clear idea about the people who you can reach out to in emergency situations.
- Make Your Family a Part of The Decision – This decision affects your family as much as you. So discuss this with your children, spouse and parents. Explain to them why you need to do this and get validation that they’re willing to join you in this journey. Fostering a child will require you to devote maximum of your time to the child. This means that the time you spend with other family members will reduce drastically. Don’t let them feel unwanted, and try to involve them so that each member gets a chance to build a relationship with the foster child.
- Create a loving Atmosphere – The most important thing for the child is to feel loved, cared for and a sense of trust. And while it may be tough in the initial days, never let the child feel frightened or unwanted. Building a strong foundation is the most important part of this relationship. If in the initial days the child feels left out, it may prove difficult in the days ahead.
- Be Ready to Part Ways – Unlike adoption, fostering is only temporary. So in all likelihood, foster children will find parents ready to adopt them, and they’ll have to move out. You must have the willpower and strength to watch the child who you looked after and spent a majority of time with move out of your home. It’s vital to remember the larger objective at all times. It’s not just you, even the child should be prepared for a day when they may have to move away.