Fostering a child is one of the biggest steps you may ever take, as well as one of the most rewarding. You are stepping in to help make a child’s life better, to give them a safe, loving home and an opportunity to step forward into the world with a new sense of confidence and security. At a time when so many of us feel like we are so distant from each other and finding it hard to connect, bringing a foster child into your home is one of the most charitable and valuable things you could do.
But it is important to remember that this is not a responsibility to take on lightly. In fact, “one of the biggest steps” is putting it lightly: this is a huge deal both for you and for the child (or children, as the case may be) that you are agreeing to foster. To put it another way: this is life-altering. Things won’t be the same for you or for them afterwards, in the best possible way. As with any major life decision, it is very important that you take the time to think carefully about whether this is right for you and the steps that you will need to take in order to make this a success. Here are a few things that you should be aware of.
This Is A Major Change For Both Of You
There is so much to consider when you’re thinking about whether or not you’re ready to take on a foster child that it can be easy to forget about that other bit. You know, the “what comes after” bit. It’s one thing to have a spare room and be confident that you have enough space in your house to give them enough space, but you are going to have to remember that this is a big adjustment for both you and the foster child. There’s going to have to be a lot of patience and understanding on both sides.
It’s Not As Simple As Saying “I Want To Do This”
We think it should go without saying that the health, happiness and wellbeing of the foster child are of paramount importance to all parties involved, which is why the application process can be a long one. It’s going to be important for you to remember that the fostering agency isn’t just trying to determine whether or not you’re suitable to be a foster parent, they are trying to make sure that the child in question is placed in the right home for them. There may be times when you feel like you’re almost there, but then things will change at the last minute. Be patient, trust the agency, and they will make the right match.
Foster Agency Support Is Ongoing
As wonderful as caring for a foster child is, there are inevitably going to be times when you need a helping hand. A good foster agency will continue to be there for you well after your foster child is all set up in your home, providing support and advice to make sure that you can continue to build a loving, supportive home. They can also offer training and workshops to help you prepare for a range of situations, and Blue Sky Fostering in Hampshire, for example, offers 24/7 out of hours support with access to a social worker who will know about your situation.
People’s Attitudes May Surprise You
When you make the decision to foster a child, you may be surprised at the different reactions your friends, family and casual acquaintances will have. While we have no doubt that many will be incredibly loving and supportive, you may find that some have assumptions about why you’re doing this and the child you’re fostering. You may have to correct some outdated opinions or be ready to ignore some nonsense. On the other hand, it could be the complete opposite!
No Two Kids Are The Same
Doing as much research and as much preparation as possible will absolutely give you a good grounding for fostering a child, but it is important to remember that every child is their own unique person, and there’s no user manual for that. From the circumstances behind their needing a foster home to their specific needs, each one is different, and it is going to be a learning process. Be patient, be kind, and remember to keep talking.
You Don’t Need To Be An Existing Parent To Be A Great Foster Carer
This is just one of the many perceived barriers that a lot of people seem to think keep you from being a foster carer. You don’t need to have had kids to give a foster child a wonderful home, nor is there a point when you become too old to do it. You don’t need to own your own home, and while a pet can be a nice way to help a foster child feel settled, it’s hardly a requirement. It’s about being able to provide a warm welcoming home and offering the support and love they need.