Did you know that many foster parents considered foster care for months or even years before taking next steps? Many individuals or families that I talk to about starting the process have wanted to foster for more than two years before taking that first step to inquire. It makes sense, right? It’s a huge commitment! But what is holding people back? Why is it that people think about fostering for YEARS before getting started? Of course, there are a lot of reasons why someone might say this is something they want to do “some day,” but for how many people does someday never come?
There are thousands of children and youth that need us TODAY. They don’t get to decide if they are ready to be separated from their family, removed from their home and community, and placed in a stranger’s care.
So if they need us today, what can we do? We can decide to learn as much as we can, to remove barriers that can be removed, and to move forward even if we are a little nervous.
A lot of the most common barriers families face in considering foster care start with fear or insecurity, and understandably so. Foster care can be pretty daunting and the process may feel overwhelming or invasive. I think most barriers are really just unanswered questions or uncertainty. We crave control, certainty, and clarity. It’s hard to step forward not knowing what the outcome will be. You can’t prepare for everything. There are some things best learned by personal experience; but, the more informed you are before jumping in, the more prepared you will be for the exciting journey ahead.
There are many myths and misconceptions about fostering. Some of these misconceptions come from the media, TV, and movies. Some of our beliefs about fostering and the children and youth in foster care are simply outdated- things we learned, saw, or heard growing up that may just not be true (or completely true) any more. Systems and practices have changed. Of course, there is still a lot of room for improvement and innovation.
Here are the most frequently asked questions that people have before getting started:
- How will foster care impact my biological children? Foster care impacts everyone in the family.
- Can I foster if my spouse is not on board? It is not recommended.
- How can I love a child and then let them go? Love does hard things.
- Will I be able to afford fostering? Likely, yes.
- Can I still work full-time if I foster? Yes!
- Can I foster if I am single? Yes!
- Can I foster if I do not own a home? Yes.
- Can I give an age-range or gender preference for the children that come into my home? Yes.
- Can I say “no” to a placement? Always and for any reason.
- What if a child is placed in my home and it isn’t working out? You have support.
It’s okay to have questions- big and small. It’s okay to have doubts. Most people do! Talk to people you know who are fostering or have fostered in the past. Ask them to tell you about the good, the bad, and the ugly. Talk to local foster care licensing agencies or attend orientation sessions to learn more about the process and the support offered. Learn as much as you can! Read, watch, and listen to stories from diverse perspectives.
You may never have all the answers or feel like you are 100% prepared to be perfect foster parents. That’s okay! The secret is that none of us are perfect. Most of us are just doing the best we can to serve children and families well in the ways we know how. There is training and support out there all along the way! The best part is, you never have to do this alone. We are better together!
Our Care2Foster staff would love to talk with you more about your interest in fostering – at whatever stage you’re at right now. We’re here to answer your questions with no pressure to take next steps, no judgement, ever! Call us at (864) 202-6839 or email [email protected]. We’re here to help at every step of the way. You’re never alone on this journey!