With over 500,000 kids in the US foster care system, many people question if they should become foster parents. Even after doing the research and looking at state requirements, deciding to become a foster parent is a huge decision that often takes years to come to a conclusion.
If you are questioning whether or not you and your family are ready to foster a child now, there are some important questions to consider about yourself and your circumstances.
Preliminary Foster Parenting Questions
1. Am I ready to say goodbye?
The primary goal of foster care is reunification, which means eventually saying goodbye to the child you’ve let into your home. It’s important to really reflect on how well you and your family will be able to handle this kind of temporary situation.
2. Do I have a good support system?
Becoming a foster parent requires a lot of emotional investment and physical changes to your daily life. Having other people around you that can help you through the hard times, offer advice, or come over to clean when the house is a mess will make the process easier. While there are groups of other foster parents that can provide a community and support, having people that you know and trust before you start the process is necessary.
3. Am I willing to deal with social workers and other people in my home?
Foster parents will have to work directly with government workers, biological families, and others oftentimes in their own home. If you aren’t comfortable opening your home to these people, fostering may not be right for you at this time.
4. Are my children ready to have foster kids in our home?
If you already have children, you need to make sure that they are prepared and open to becoming a foster family as well. As a part of your house and family, the considerations of everybody’s willingness and ability to open their hearts is an important consideration.
5. Is my day-to-day life secure and stable?
Because becoming a foster parent can require a lot of flexibility and change, limiting unstable or unknown factors in your daily life is important. Creating a stable home means you have to be financially secure and have a stable home life.
6. How will this impact my career, family, and life?
Becoming a foster parent will require a great degree of flexility and emotional maturity. The time it takes to care for a foster child along with the intensity of the experience can impact your job, marriage, and family relationships. Take the time to look at all areas of your life to make sure you are ready for what changes may occur.
Signs You’re Ready
If you feel like you’ve gone through all the questions and considerations but are still nervous, here are a few signs you’re probably ready to be a foster parent:
- You can feel that you have a lot of love to give and an empathetic outlook
- Your home is safe and stable
- You have strong communication and conflict management skills
- You are self-aware about your own strengths and weaknesses as a partner, parent, and person
Signs Now Isn’t The Right Time
Just because now isn’t when you should start fostering, doesn’t mean you should or could never be a foster parent. Outside circumstances or where you are with your own mental health may make you think twice about such a big decision. Here are a few reasons why it might make sense to wait before embarking on a foster parent journey:
- You struggle to cope with large stressors
- Your children or partner aren’t on board with the decision
- You have unresolved attachment or childhood issues that make it hard to say goodbye
- There are often conflicts in your house between members of your family
- You are new to an area or don’t have a strong support system
Deciding to become a foster parent is a large and difficult decision, but by being honest with yourself and your family there are ways to make sure you’re ready. Taking these questions and signs into consideration, you will be able to figure out if you should begin this journey and when the right time to start is.
This article was written exclusively for Love What Matters by Anna Steingruber. Join the Love What Matters family and subscribe to our newsletter.
Read more like this:
‘The placement ended with the police having them removed from our home. I cried and swore I would never do it again. Then we got a call about a one-day-old baby girl.’: Mom shares journey as foster parent
Do you know someone that could use this article? SHARE with friends and family.