My husband and I have been foster parents for over three years. In that time, more than 35 children have come through our home – some for a night, some for a year. In that time, we have learned a LOT about how the system works and how to be successful as a foster parent. Here are some things you should consider if you’ve been thinking about going through the licensing process.
- The Practicalities.
You do not need a large home (or even to own your home), you don’t need to be married, you can have your own children or not. You will need a certain amount of square footage in the bedrooms you plan to use for foster kids, and you can’t be on any kind of government assistance. These kids usually come to their placements with little to nothing in the way of clothing, toys, shoes, etc. We keep bins of clothes in the basement separated by size and gender so we can quickly and easily grab at least a couple of things to wear for each child. I always have a can of formula in the cabinet and a closet with diapers in every size, just in case.
- Your Personality.
When we get a call about a potential placement, the longest notice we’ve ever had before the child shows up on our doorstep is about five hours. I’m a planner, and I don’t like change. Needless to say this was a hard transition for me at first. There is a lot of “rolling with the punches” and being flexible in foster care; I’ve always known this was an area I struggle with and have grown a lot over the last three years.
- Various Parenting Styles
These kids come from hard places, through no fault of their own. They are in care for various reasons, all related to their parents’ situation, not because of their own behavior. However, they often have certain challenges or concerns to address. We’ve had kids who needed regular physical or occupational therapy to catch up developmentally with their peers, kids who were so full of anger over certain situations they couldn’t express themselves in any kind of healthy way, and other kids who had more typical needs. All of these kids needed love and attention, but beyond that they each had unique needs that we had to figure out and then meet.
I can’t guarantee that foster care is right for everyone, but I can guarantee that if you chose to take this tough road, you won’t regret it. Even if you are only able to help one child in one hard situation, that’s incredibly important.
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