Millions of children around the world suffer in orphanages and group homes because they don’t have family to properly take care of them. In fact, Arizona is home to 18,000 foster children in their state alone. It’s a tragedy that many people are lucky enough not to realize, but the children that do live through the experience need help and support. Many caring families offer to take some of these children in for a period of time to give them a home and a sense of family. If you’re interested in getting involved, you may be wondering if being a foster family is right for you and your family. Here are some things to consider to help you make the decision.
Reasons to Become a Foster Family
There are infinite reasons to take in a foster child. Fostering can be an incredibly rewarding experience. You are taking in a child that needs a home. You are giving them the type of home that they could only dream about. You’re also providing them love and guidance at a time in their life when they desperately need it. You are also adding a member to your family, so you are gaining from the experience as well! This is a new sibling to your children and a new child for you and your spouse. This could potentially turn into a loving relationship that you cherish for the rest of your life.
It’s a Family Affair
When you bring another person into your home, it affects the entire family. Talk to your spouse and other children to get their opinion on foster care. It’s only fair that everyone is on board with the decision. If the entire family isn’t on the same page, it can result in negative experiences. Also, this is a big decision that could affect your family for years so emphasize that this is a decision that everyone has to be in on for the long haul.
You won’t have to worry about putting your new foster children on your insurance policy. They receive medical care through the state that even includes emotional health. Talk to your social worker to learn where the nearest facilities are before the child comes to your home. Also learn exactly what is and what is not covered.
Resources For You
If you are having trouble adjusting to life as a foster parent, there are plenty of resources to help. First, you can go to a support group specifically designed for this very reason. You can talk to other people who are experiencing the same problems as you are. It’s also a good idea to stay in close contact with your family so that you can go to them when you’re feeling frustrated. You can also go to classes before you become a foster parent to become prepared.
Be prepared to say goodbye
Prepare yourself and the other members in your family for the day when the foster child you welcome into your home and family will go on to live with a relative. You don’t know whether the child will stay for days, weeks, months, or years. It can be devastating for you and your family when they do leave. Set realistic expectations and prepare for this day in advance. Remember that you may still have a relationship with your foster child even after they leave your home.
Be prepared to make and enforce rules
Foster children lack structure. Help provide some for them when they are in your care. Set the same rules for your foster children as your regular children. Also, keep things on a schedule. Even if a foster child rejects structure initially, they can learn from it.
Be prepared to be a parent
Don’t think that getting a foster child is a good alternative to committing to your own child. Foster children need the same amount of love and care as any full-time child — if not more.
Be prepared to be surprised
Don’t expect to know what you’re going to get! You may get a baby or you might get a teenager. You have to be ready.
Be prepared for a child with special needs
Most children are in foster care because they have suffered through a less than ideal family situation. They bring the pain and anxiety that their previous situation taught them with them when they enter your home. You need to be prepared to handle children with emotional and/or physical disorders. Luckily, there are classes you can take to help you take on this role.
Be prepared to face resistance
While some foster children happily walk into their new home, some are so used to their current home life that they don’t want to be separated from their relatives. They might not see their previous situation as dangerous and request to be returned to their parents. Don’t expect the foster kid to come into your home warmly. Some will be very quiet and some might be downright mean. Don’t take it personally. The child has likely gone through very traumatic events with their parents and possibly even other foster parents. They have earned their trust issues. Just do your best to make them feel comfortable while still maintaining strong boundaries until they warm up to you and the rest of the family.
Be prepared to spend money
Most families receive about $15- $20 a day per child that they house. When you add up the cost of a child, you will realize that might not cover everything that you need to buy for the child. If you’re considering taking in foster children for the money, you should reconsider. You will most likely be disappointed.
Choosing to be a foster parents means opening up your heart to the people who need you the most. It shows your commitment to the community, and it does wonders for the individual that you accept into your home. It may have some learning moments and struggles, but you will see just how rewarding being a foster family can be for the whole family.