Foster care often is not easy for the parents or the fostered children, but it can be a mutually rewarding experience for all involved.
Foster parenting can provide an at-risk child with a sanctuary, a safe place for him or her while the natural parents sort through their issues. Foster parents have plenty of hurdles to surmount in order to gain the trust of a child who has been subjected to neglect or abuse and has yet to experience life with a positive role model, but the lessons a foster child learns in a stable environment will provide a lifetime of return.
The most challenging part of foster care is the uncertain timeline. The goal with foster children is to eventually reunite them with their parents, so it is understandable if the child, in particular, is reluctant or unwilling to trust the foster parent. Therefore, a foster parent must be equal parts patient and selfless, willing to work hard to build a relationship while understanding the effort may not be reciprocated and that the birth parents could re-enter the picture at any time.
Not all relationships between foster parents and foster children come to an end, though. Foster adoption—i.e. adopting an older child out of foster care—has become an increasingly popular choice for prospective parents who would like to avoid the lengthy process of adopting a child either here or overseas.
There are many steps involved in becoming a foster parent. Each state has different requirements, but potential foster parents can expect to undergo a background check, participate in a comprehensive home study by a local Child Welfare Office and take a first aid class.
If you think that foster parenting is right for you, or if you have already taken in a child through foster adoption, we want to hear your story!