Being a foster parent can be one of the most rewarding experiences that life has to offer – with so many children in care that need a loving and nurturing environment to flourish in, it is not surprising that it is a choice many couples and single people are now making.
There is a lot of information available on the ups and downs of becoming a foster parent, and it is definitely not a decision that should be taken lightly, no matter how enthusiastic or motivated the potential carers are. Here are some things to take into consideration before making this major commitment.
The first thing to take into account is how your own home and family can support a foster child, or even several if they are in sibling groups. Depending on your state or country there are many restrictions on becoming a foster parent, so there are likely to be guidelines that you must adhere to in family and home life; do your research in order to know if your environment is a suitable one.
If you have children of your own, you will need to be aware that the family dynamic can be greatly affected by welcoming a foster child into the home. If you are part of couple, understand that your relationship will also likely be affected, so prepare to have many discussions about how the family as a whole will deal with you becoming a foster parent.
It is also necessary to consider the skills necessary to be a successful foster parent. Patience, the ability to provide structure and having a lot of love and time to give are very important, although every good foster care agency will provide you with appropriate training and support to help you build on your skills and develop new ones which will help you fulfil your role as best as possible.
When becoming a foster parent – especially if you are single and don’t have a partner to share your responsibilities-it is important to have a strong support system in place.Being a foster carer can be very stressful at times, especially when dealing with difficult behaviour. Agencies often provide their own support groups so you can connect with others going through the same thing as you.
Another key skill to have when thinking of becoming a foster parent is the ability to communicate well. This is not only limited to communicating effectively with a foster child or children; you will also need to be able to deal with social workers, therapists, the birth family, other parents and even judges and court personnel.
Again, a good foster care agency can provide training in this area, but it is important that you have existing skills in the area to be accepted as a foster carer. You will also need to know how to work well with others in order to tailor the best care for the child, attend regular meetings and work with the birth family to help all parties involved.
One other significant point that anyone considering becoming a foster parent must consider is if they can successfully manage the often challenging behaviours of many children in care. It is important to remember that many have suffered from terrible physical, mental and even sexual abuse, meaning they need to be treated with a very special level of love, care and attention.
Becoming a foster parent is a major decision to make, and many can question whether they have the skills and ability to meet the demands of the role. You will find, however, that the support for anyone taking this step is enormous, with fostering agencies providing you with all you need to succeed in your role as a carer.
If you think you can meet the demands of being a foster carer and have the skill set to rise to challenges it will inevitably present, then a good foster agency will be able to guide you on taking your very first step towards helping a child in care overcome the setbacks they have experienced in their life and move forward to a future filled with the love and support everyone deserves.