Do You Want to be a Foster Parent?
You want to have kids, and for one reason or another, having your own is not in the plan. So now you’re considering adopting. Becoming a foster parent is one path to adoption and there are many children in the foster care system waiting for a family. Adoption can mean years of waiting while fostering to adopt can be almost immediate. However, there are several things to consider before becoming a foster parent.
There are multiple agencies dedicated to licensing people as foster parents. You need to do some research to see what the requirements are for any agencies that you might consider. While they have to follow the state rules for licensing, they often add other requirements of their own. It’s helpful to know these upfront to find out if you will qualify and want to work with them. Private agencies often have information meetings where you can ask questions and learn more about them.
Another consideration is the lack of privacy that you will have. Everything about your life will be scrutinized and put on display. First, there will be meetings with a caseworker who will ask many personal questions about your life and past. These questions will include finances, personal relationships and any past issues you may have had, as well as your beliefs about how to raise children. They will then write a report which will be given to any caseworkers of potential adoptable children. You’ll also have caseworkers coming into your home on a regular basis when you have a child in your care. Not only will they be looking at your home but also at how you care for the children. While this shouldn’t scare you, it is something you need to be aware of.
Something else to think about is the emotional part of being foster parents. Depending on the children you are willing to take, you may have to give them up some time in the future. Reunification with their biological family is always the first goal of foster care and many of the children return home. This may take months or even years and you will get attached to the child. During this time, the child may have visits with their parents that can cause issues with the child and stress for you. You’ll need to decide if you are willing to take children who may go back to their parents or if you only want the children who are ready for adoption. The choice will affect the number and age of the children that could be placed with you.
You also have the behaviors of the child you are fostering to deal with. They will go through the grief process of being separated from their parents which can cause anger, fear and denial, among other emotions. They have experienced a lot of things that would be difficult for an adult to handle much less a developing child. There may be a lot of acting out since they are not yet good at understanding their emotions.
At any point in the process you can decide not to continue if it is more than you can handle. Being a foster parent is a rewarding, complex choice but it is one you need to think through carefully to decide if it is right for you.