Firstly what does fostering involve? Fostering aims to provide a suitable, secure and stable home for young persons and children who are not able to live with their birth parents at one time or another due to various circumstances. Foster carers are matched to children and young persons based on similarities in ethnicities, religion and culture as far as possible to give children in care the best supportive environment.
The decision to foster can be a difficult one and may have a significant impact on your family and surroundings. Whether fostering for the short term or long term one must consider the changes that may be required to one’s lifestyle and the impact on day to day life. There may be challenges when trying to engage a foster child in an environment that is unfamiliar to them. Challenges may also arise in the home if there are other children present and changes to the family structure.
Foster children too, may have feelings of displacement and be unsettled as they try to come to terms with their new environment and situation. If the foster child has experienced a change in foster homes frequently in the past, they may need additional time and patience on the part of the new foster family, while they adjust to new surroundings. It can also be difficult to understand a young person’s behaviour depending on their experiences, which may or may not involve traumatic incidents and also coping with separation form loved ones. Although difficult to understand for the foster carer, it must be remembered that the young person may have a unique way of coping with situations, and it is not necessarily related to one’s skills as a foster carer.
The thing to remember is the reason you decide to foster in the first place. The opportunity to give a young person or child a chance at a safe happy home environment is essential as this can have a positive lasting impression in the future. A foster child may be in your home for a long period of time or only for a short period of time, but as a foster parent you have the opportunity to make that stay worthwhile!
The decision to foster children is not one that should be taken lightly, and the requirements and potential impact can be considerable, however so too can be the amount of good one can do for a child in foster care. Getting involved in foster care can have a positive impact on yourself and your family if you are realistic and honest about the challenges and if your heart is in the right place.