So you’re thinking about being a foster parent, but you have some concerns about whether or not you can do a good job at it being a single person. You were inspired to check it out based on the fact that your friends seem to be thriving at it, but you also notice how tired and weary they are sometimes – and there’s two of them!! You can definitely be a foster parent as a single person and make a huge impact in the life of a child just as well; and sometimes better than most couples out there. Read on and hopefully we can debunk the myth that you have to be in a loving, committed relationship in order to be a foster parent candidate.
Yes, You Can Do It!
Before we get into all the qualities you have as a single individual, we need to answer the question: “Can I be a foster parent if I’m single?” The answer is unequivocally “Yes”. As a matter of fact, individuals from all walks of life can apply regardless of their current relationship status. Probably the most important things to consider before becoming a foster parent is the following: Will you be able to offer a child entering your home support, love, and be a nurturing part of their life? If you can answer yes to those things, then you’re in a great position to be a foster parent, whether you’re single or otherwise.
The Benefits of Fostering as a Single
Sadly, a lot of children placed in the foster care system come from abusive situations and they have lost trust in most adults. If you’re a woman who is in single, you may be the ideal role model for a child who was abused by a man earlier, so placing them in a home with a male present may not be the best thing for her at the moment.
Conversely, as a man you just may be that person a young boy needs to learn what a hardworking, diligent, industrious man looks like up close. Of course a foster child can see these qualities in a man who is involved in a relationship, but he will also feel special knowing that all your time, energy, and effort is geared toward him only for the time that he is in your life.
Are You Dating?
Along with being in a committed marriage with someone, you may have the opportunity to model what healthy dating looks like to a young child. If you’re a woman who is dating, maybe the man you’re currently with may not understand the family dynamic you’ve chosen to engage in; or he may be extremely curious and supportive of your decision. Either way, you will get a good gauge of how your mate views your decision to incorporate a child into your life, which will aide you in determining if it’s a relationship you want to pursue.
Do You Have The Resources
Foster care is tough enough if you’re a two-person team, I can only imagine how much tougher it is when you’re going it alone. You need to be sure that your child is getting their needs met; you’re working with the biological family and the team; making it to court dates and team meetings, etc. Can you do that? It’s probably going to require some help. It’s good to look honestly at what your resources are – Do you have a community that can help, the financial ability to be sure kids get what they need, the emotional reserves to make it through the tough times. You also need to be careful that your foster child doesn’t come into your home with a job to do. What we mean by that is they can’t be a band-aid for loneliness, or be used to meet your need for a family. The same thing needs to said to couples pursuing foster care who are struggling with infertility. It may be wise to get the go-ahead from a counselor, pastor, or trusted friend that you are ready to give to a child who needs you and aren’t looking for a child to fill your needs (although they often do in the end!).
Have A Plan
Whether you’re going at this alone, or with a partner, you need to have a plan of action in place. Educate yourself on the process of becoming a foster parent by reading books; talk to other foster parents; attend seminars; etc. Become aware of what potential challenges are out there so when you’re faced with them, you’re not caught off guard. Probably the most important thing to remember is this: You may arm yourself with all the knowledge and expertise you think you’ll need to venture into this worthwhile endeavor; but the first 5 – maybe 10 – rules of being an effective foster parent is to “be flexible’. Despite what you have planned for that day, you may have to drop everything to confront a child whose fear of being abused suddenly surfaces without warning.
Know Your Limits
You’re going to get a lot of pats on the back and encouragement from people in your inner circle after you make the decision to foster a child. Don’t let the accolades fool you into thinking you’re a superhero whose battery doesn’t run down from time to time. Take care of yourself by eating right, and don’t forget to exercise to keep your stress levels down. If you don’t take the time to feed yourself, emotionally, spiritually, and physically, you will ultimately be doing a disservice to the child you made a commitment to look after and pour yourself into.
You Can Do It
As you think about if you have what it takes, please remember you are already enough to provide a loving, nurturing environment for one of the thousands of kids in the foster care system. Again, talk to those who have already traveled down the path you’re going to go down. If you have the ability to love, you’re exactly what that child needs.