Becoming a foster parent is no simple decision — it requires extensive planning, discussion, and consideration with your partner, family, and loved ones before any steps should really be taken. When thinking about fostering a child, perhaps the most important thing to consider is the skills and traits necessary to possess for such a large task. Read on to see if you have the right qualities to become an effective foster parent.
Most foster youth have endured great challenges and difficulties in their past homes, and may not even be aware of the wrong in their existing situations. It can be hard for these children to appreciate the improvements in their new homes and cooperate with their new families. Being able to understand their difficulties and continuing to support them without frustration is critical to moving forward and eventually reaching a better place with them. Allow them to heal and grieve in their own ways, and do not lose patience when the situation isn’t ideal — it takes time for a child to adjust to a new lifestyle.
You never know the full story behind any given circumstance — why a parent neglected their child, what a family has gone through, or why a child feels the way they do. Accepting this and moving past it is crucial to becoming a successful support system and caretaker for a foster child. The judgment of a child’s background or their biological parents can sometimes be unintentionally reflected in a parents’ words or behavior, making the child feel uncomfortable or ill-at-ease. Remember that foster care is more often than not intended to be temporary and that many children look forward to reunification with their parents. Any negativity cast on their biological families can cause resentment not only towards you but towards their existing families as well, making it difficult for them to find peace in any home.
Always be open to accepting the unexpected. When raising a child that is not your own, you cannot control everything in their lives and sometimes not even in your own. If your foster child is having difficulties adjusting to new lifestyle changes and is facing troubles in school or among their peers, all you can really do is simply lend a helping hand. Be open to attending mandatory court hearings, therapy sessions, and parent-teacher conferences as these will come up whether you want them to or not. And if you personally find yourself struggling, be open to reaching out to others. Whether it be friends, family members, or community organizations, there are plenty of resources to go to when you need help as a new parent. Most importantly, be open to saying goodbye. Not all foster placements are permanent, and your child may be removed from your home unexpectedly. Becoming attached to a child may make this difficult to acknowledge, but as a foster parent, you must be willing to let go and allow them to move forward when the time comes.
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