Great! You have taken the first steps towards making a difference in the world by providing a safe and stable home environment for a child in need of familial support. Now how do you get started? The web has been helpful but also so confusing. There is so much information out there. Who should you listen to?
It’s confusing, maybe it’s best to forget the whole thing!??
Wait! Take a deep breath. It’s natural to feel this way when making a big decision. I’m here to tell you that there is help. It’s quite likely you have the same questions that many other foster parents before you have had. The foster parent community is eager to share their experiences with you.
You will likely remember the story of Davion Only—the young man who stood up at his church making a public plea for a family. You may not realize that his adoptive mom, Connie Going, remains a tireless advocate of kids still in the system waiting for their adoptive families. Now Connie is sharing a heartfelt message of love about becoming a foster parent. “I’m here to say that you can do this. If you have love in your heart and can offer unconditional acceptance, you will not fail.” Read on for more of Connie’s inspiring words in Oprah’s magazine.”
1. Immerse yourself. “Follow foster moms’ social media accounts (try searching #fostermomon Instagram), and join online forums about fostering (visit dailystrength.org or adoption.com). If there’s an in-person informational or support group in your town, show up and ask questions.”
2. Prepare to be patient. “To become a foster parent, you first must attend training classes. Next, a case manager comes to your house for an assessment and in-person interviews. The state does background checks, and then, if you’ve met all the requirements, you should get your foster placement. The process often takes around five months—in some states, longer. The barriers and safeguards are created with the kids’ well-being in mind.”
3. Self-assess. “The ideal foster parent or parents should be stable in who they are. If you have a challenging family history that you’ve processed and overcome, you’ll likely understand the kids better. Some of the strongest candidates have parented before, like empty nesters.”
4. Accept impermanence. “Around half of foster parents end up adopting, but there’s still a chance a biological family member could step back in at the last minute. The first goal in foster care is always reunification with the original family. And while I adopted my boys, they are not ‘mine’: I share them with their birth parents. I’ve even located those family members for them, because I knew it would help make them whole.”
5. Emphasize empathy. “When kids act out, remember that it’s the result of trauma. Think about it this way: They’re so resilient and brave that they’re taking the chance to connect with another human being after everyone else has let them down. It’s our privilege to step in and make their lives better.”
Read more about her experience on Oprahmag.com
Becoming a Foster Parent is exciting. There will be times when you will be filled with laughter, joy, and happiness. Although, it would be misleading to end it with that. There will also be times when you will experience doubt, anxiety, and frustration. All of these emotions (and many more) are normal, and should be expected.
Foster care is a journey worth taking. There will be times when it’s easy, and times when it’s difficult. Remember this, when the dark times make their appearance, we will be here to help shed some light.