Often times in the media or popular culture, foster care is painted in a rather poor light. If you’re on the fence about becoming a resource family or parent, don’t let these myths about fostering or parenting hold you back! We’re here to encourage and support anyone who is considering fostering and hope that by debunking these myths, you’ll feel better prepared and excited to embark on the journey of becoming a resource family.
A resource parent needs to only be wealthy in patience and love, but money should not be an obstacle. As long as you can support yourself and any other family members living with you, you will be considered. It doesn’t even matter if you own or rent your home, or if you live in an apartment. Foster parents also receive reimbursement to cover the cost of food, clothing, medical, dental and counseling services. The state agencies will also provide supportive services such as training and respite care.
2. If I Choose to Foster, That Means I Have to be Ready to Adopt
Most of the time, (but not always) the purpose of foster care is to give the child a safe and loving home until the child’s biological parent or parents are ready to take care of them. Foster care is usually temporary, and the ultimate goal of most resource families is to provide the child with a safe and comfortable place to live and grow until they are able to be reunited with their biological families. When you become a resource parent, there is no pressure from the state or the agency to adopt the child you are fostering. However, if adopting a child is what you’re ultimately looking for, there are foster-to-adopt programs, and of the 51,000 children in foster care adopted last year, 54% were adopted by their foster parents.
3. I Have to be Married to be a Resource Parent
Your relationship status is of no concern to foster agencies! Whether you’re single, dating, or married, as long as you’re able to provide a stable and safe home to a child, most foster agencies will happily place a child in your care. In most cases, a person’s marital status or sexual orientation will not act as disqualifiers from their eligibility to adopt. While these laws may vary by state, California law allows parents to be either single or married, but if the parent is living with an unmarried partner, the relationship should be stable. So many children in foster care are in need of good homes that most foster agencies would be losing valuable additions to their pool of resource families if they turned away unmarried couples or single individuals.
4. I Have to Already Have Kids to be a Resource Parent
This is absolutely not a requirement for becoming a resource parent! Just like marital status, whether or not you’ve had children is of no interest to most foster agencies, and they would lose valuable applicants if they excluded individuals without children. While experience with children would probably help you on your journey of becoming a resource parent, it is not a listed requirement for the state of California.
5. Being a Resource Parent Isn’t Worth It
Many popular TV shows and movies make jokes out of resource parenting, or dramatize it for entertainment purposes and show foster children acting out and getting into some serious trouble. This may lead some people to believe that becoming a resource family isn’t worth the time and effort. While this is ultimately up to you to decide, we want to stress that the impact a good home will have on these children will be greater than you may think. Yes, some foster kids might come from a rough background, but each one of them has the potential to learn and grow and come out of a not so favorable situation in a better position than when the entered.
Every resource parenting experience will not be the same. Each child you may foster will have a different personality, likes and dislikes, and experiences. Some will fit right into your family, and some may not. But making the decision to become a resource parent is a huge one, and you should have all the right information before choosing your path. The commitment you show to each foster child that passes through your home, whether it be 1 child or 100, will touch their lives for the better. We hope that by explaining some common myths about resource parenting or foster care, we’ve helped to change your expectations for the better, and made your decision a little easier to make.