Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fostering is a real Commitment

The thought of doing something good for children makes a lot of people consider becoming a foster parent. Being a foster parent though isn't a simple job. It requires both knowledge and commitment. So before you even waste a caseworkers time calling to get information consider a few things about yourself and your life first. This is a decision that will directly effect a child's life and should not be taken lightly.

What means nothing to you will mean a lot to a child

When considering taking in a foster child the first thing you should consider is if you have the time to properly care for them. Children who have been ripped out of their homes and thrown in the system will suffer from many issues. They will need time, attention, and love. Do you work long hours with no one at home? Do you work a job that requires you to be on call? Do you have time to take a child to therapy and doctors appointments during normal business hours? While that great job with long hours may pay for the nice home and toys you can provide a child it will not pay for the time and attention that is needed for these children.
The next issue is how stable your life is. Do you move often? Do you change partners often? Do you changes jobs frequently? Are you married? While some of these may seem unimportant they really are. The last thing a long term placement needs is their foster parent making a move with them or a new woman or man coming in the house each week or month. What you do directly impacts the child. Everything in their life changes so often the last thing they need is more change created by you. The ideal situation would be a 2 parent household (married or stable couple) who are living in a home they plan on being in for the long haul. Now I am not saying a single parent can not be a foster parent. Under the right circumstances they can. However a single parent who works long ours and floats through new partners on a regular basis would not be a healthy environment for a child.
The next thing to consider are your finances. Do you really believe the government is going to pay you enough to accurately provide for a child? Well they won't! What they provide may be enough to pay for a couple of outfits and some school supplies, but it will NOT be enough to support a child. You will need to think about many extra costs. Clothes, school supplies, shoes, toys, beds, linens, hygiene supplies, and the extra gas spent taking them to their appointments is just the beginning. So if you think you will somehow make a profit or even break even, I'm sorry to tell you but you are wrong!


Be Good? Are you Serious?

The most important thing to consider is the behavior of a child in foster care. You are almost guaranteed to get a child in your home who has far from perfect behavior. These children have been physically, mentally, or sexually abused in some way. Expecting them to be perfect would be a delusional thought! Many children float through so many homes that they have no idea how to do good in each house. Every house has different rules to follow, different parents who expect different behaviors, and many never get a chance to get use to a set of parent before they get moved again. To expect them to be good even half the time is almost not even logical. These children need someone with a big heart and a willingness to accept them for who they are. To encourage good behavior not demand it. In my time in foster care I was in over 30 placements. Many gave up on me and wanted me out because of my "bad" behavior. They somehow forgot that I was a 15 year old who had been through hell and back. They expected me to use perfect language, hang around perfect people, and call them mom. All very unrealistic expectations.
So before you consider becoming a foster parent consider if you are willing to put the work and effort that it takes to guide these children on the right path. Don't expect them to be what you want them to be. Instead be the person they need you to be and in the end they will respect you.


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