Somewhere in between an initial interest in foster care and committing to become a foster parent, is a middle space. In our talks with people, we’ve decided this middle space is a HARD place to be.
In this middle space, a person knows more about foster care than most. There’s been enough initial research done to understand it isn’t an easy process to get certified. Through blogs like this one, or reading online articles, or following foster Instagram accounts, a prospective foster parent in the middle space has gotten a window into foster care and now understands that, while important and needed, becoming a foster parent will dramatically change their life.
In many ways, it’s just enough knowledge to get stuck.
It’s a challenge to go from interest and excitement to an actual commitment to start fostering. So for many, application packets get filed away, follow ups with agencies go unmade, and time passes on.
Are you in this middle space? If so, know that you aren’t alone! Fostering is a big commitment. At the same time, sometimes moving out of this middle space is just a matter of moving forward, one step at a time.
Here are some practical ways to do just that:
MAKE PEACE WITH THE FACT THERE IS NO “GOOD TIME” TO START FOSTERING
It’s easy to look at life and wonder if circumstances need to change to begin fostering. People wonder if they are in the right house, if their kids are at the right age, if their lives are too busy, and the list goes on!
But here’s the hard truth— there isn’t a good time to start fostering. Sorry to be a downer, but that’s the reality. Life is complicated and won’t ever be uncomplicated enough to make the time feel “right”. Single or married… apartment or house… working full, part-time, or stay-at-home… married 20 months or twenty years… no kids, small kids, or teens at home… we know of families in ALL seasons of life and circumstances who foster and find it workable and positive. So don’t let life talk you out of the right time being right now.
REALIZE YOU DON’T HAVE TO MAKE A BIG ANNOUNCEMENT
We live in a funny time, where many things are done with big announcements. People go online or throw reveals or find other ways to publicly share their next life steps. While this definitely makes for some sweet & memorable moments, there’s also a hidden downside.
People in the middle space wonder, what if I start the process, but never end up fostering? Will others look down on me? What will people’s reactions to our decision be? What if it doesn’t work out, and I’ve already said I’m going to do it?
Suddenly, the idea of moving forward feels extra intimidating. But it doesn’t have to feel this way! Remove the pressure by approaching involving others in a way that makes you comfortable. Tell people when & how you want. Realize beginning the fostering process doesn’t force your hand— if at any point you later decide you aren’t able or willing to proceed, you can make that decision, and it’s absolutely okay! Feeling like you have to have everything figured out and all the answers in the beginning just isn’t fair to you— so let that junk go, and adopt a less burdensome approach.
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, ASK FOR HELP
You know that saying, “Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength?” It couldn’t be truer when it comes to choosing to foster parent. Admitting you’re scared or intimidated to move forward is a brave move, and only shows you realize choosing to foster parent is too big to go alone (something universally agreed upon by foster parents!) Others won’t judge you for feeling confused or out of your element, because they were once there, too.
Here at Care 2 Foster we want to help you in ANY way we can, whether its with information, connecting you with agencies, or being your biggest cheerleaders through the process— we’re here for you! Consider joining our Facebook group SHARE Fostering South Carolina You can also reach out to us at www.care2foster.org/contact
Originally published January 2019. Updated September 2019.