People say that difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. This is especially true when it comes to being a foster parent. Fostering comes with its fair share of uncertainty and heartbreak, but the rewards are beyond comparison.
Those considering foster care sometimes let their fear of the unknown hold them back. It’s a decision that requires deep consideration but also one that could change your life for the better. If you’re unsure if fostering is right for you, here are a few questions to ask.
Do You Participate in Child-Friendly Activities?
This question applies to potential foster parents who don’t have biological children. You must make time to do activities that a child would enjoy. Many foster children haven’t had the privilege of spending quality time with family or getting to do new things.
Do Your Kids React Positively to the Idea of Fostering?
If you have children of your own, it’s vital to include them in the discussion about whether to foster. Children should never feel powerless over decisions that affect them. Inviting children in foster care into your family can be a positive experience for your biological children if they are open to it.
Would You Describe Yourself as Empathetic?
Empathy is a tool you’ll rely on as a foster parent. Foster children have often experienced trauma and abuse. You need to be able to empathize with a child and show unconditional love before they can feel safe in your home.
Are You Open to New Ideas and Experiences?
Fostering means attending classes and staying up to date with information. A love of learning and the ability to be flexible are desirable qualities in a foster parent. If you're the type of person who’s willing to step outside their comfort zone, fostering might be for you.
Are You Willing to Care for a Child for a Short Time?
As a foster parent, you could start building a relationship with a child who ends up leaving your home. It’s beautiful when a child is able to return to their biological family. Many foster parents would like the children in their care to stay forever and be adopted, but it’s not always the reality. Foster parents must have strong emotional coping skills.
Can You Work with a Child’s Birth Parents?
The goal of foster care is to do what’s best for the child, even if it’s difficult for the adults. As a foster parent, you will likely be in contact with birth parents. It’s important to show respect for a child’s birth parents and be a positive role model for how to treat others.
Can You Keep Information Confidential?
Foster parents are required to keep certain information about a child and their family private. This is for the safety of the child. Parents must be cautious of things like posting on social media, as pictures of children in foster care aren’t allowed to be shared.
Sally Gramke is the Administrative Assistant for the Foster Care and Adoption Program and is often the first point of contact for people inquiring about foster care. Sally has been with the agency since 2011 and is fortunate to witness many families go through the entire process. Some of the most heartwarming stories she’s heard are from foster families relaying how gratifying it can be to see kids reunified with their biological family.