Becoming a foster parent can be infinitely rewarding, and it can provide a calm and loving home to a child in need of stability and care. However, the process of applying to be a foster parent and actually hosting a child in your home can be quite difficult. Here are some skills all potential foster parents need to have before welcoming a foster child to their home.
Perhaps the top skill future foster parents will need to develop is patience. Patience is critical when interacting with government agencies, concerned friends and family, your own family when they are struggling in the transition, and the foster child you will welcome into your home. Sometimes foster children can exhibit quite challenging behavior, and it is important to remain calm and loving in even the most difficult situation.
Foster parents need to be organized and educated about foster laws in their state and community. It is important to research the requirements for foster homes and parents in your state in order to know what will be expected of your family. Remember that becoming a foster parent can be a highly bureaucratic process that takes time and organization to complete successfully.
Foster parents are required to communicate professionally with a wide range of people, including social workers, lawyers and judges, doctors, teachers, and therapists. For this reason, couples considering becoming foster parents should ask themselves if they are ready for this level of responsibility.
Potential foster parents need to have compassion. It is important to understand that the child coming into your home may be coming from a very traumatic situation, and he or she may act out in ways that are challenging to handle. Compassion is key in these circumstances. Foster parents also need to have compassion for their own children and their spouse; hosting a foster child can be difficult for the whole family, and it is important to recognize these difficulties and talk about them as a family.
Maintaining Realistic Expectations
Sometimes parents begin the process of accepting a foster child into their home with unrealistic expectations. One expectation is that they will be able to adopt their foster child permanently. While this does happen, remember that most foster children will only stay with your family a short time. In general, most states prefer to place children with suitable relatives if at all possible. Another expectation future foster parents hold is that they will be able to make a miraculous change in their foster child’s life. While foster parents can have a very positive impact on a child’s life, they should not expect dramatic change.