The road to becoming a foster parent can be a long series of decisions and is something which must be taken into consideration. Often it takes years of contemplation and inner preparedness to determine if foster parenting is the right decision for you and your family at the particular juncture of our lives. Just like any major life decision, one must prepare for a significant impact on each family member and many widely varied aspects of oneís life. Start by considering, "What is a foster parent?" and move forward from the definition to how the answer will define our lives.
1. Initial Qualifications and Determining the Best Fit
The first steps in considering foster parenting are actually the simplest and most obvious. What do you need to become a foster parent? Each state has specific rules and regulations about who is able to foster children.
Once this basic hurdle is cleared, the inner preparations must begin. Perhaps one could begin with attempting to discern what age and gender will best suit their current living situation. For example, would it create an extreme hardship for one to be kept up all night with a crying baby? Finding a good fit for your family is an essential, yet challenging task.
2. Bettering Communication Skills in Preparation for the Transition
Communication is key with any relationship, but even more so when incorporating a foster child into oneís life. Being able to sit down with each member of the family and talk openly about the impending changes that foster parenting will bring it critical to the success.
Is one member concerned about the level of attention that he or she may not receive once a new child enters their home? This applies both to spouses and to children, as one might imagine. Talking about these new shifts in time with loved ones before determining if foster parenting is right for the family will allow planning for if and when the issue arises. It will leave the door open to ensure that once the foster child is in the home that each member can discuss openly their desire for some one-on-one time with the individual from whom they feel they are missing the attention.
Planning ahead for this particular issue might include listing a few options of easy to schedule one-on-one time adventures.
3. Understanding New Communication Expectations
Another aspect of communication is realizing that once one becomes a foster parent, they will inevitably have an entirely new additional circle of individuals with whom they must communicate. This could include social workers, the genetic parents, siblings, and more. A simple doctorís visit or an unexpected trip to the ER will pose challenges that one does not have with their biological child, simply because the decision-making process for the foster child will be different.
4. Creating an Environment of Patience, Consistency, and Guidance
One of the challenges of foster parenting includes being patient with a child who is entering new surroundings and may have come from a wide variety of potentially troubled circumstances. Consistency in as many areas of life as possible can be calming for a child who may have been dealing with great levels of uncertainty in their own lives lately. Foster parents must prepare for the potential that the child may have fallen behind in school due to circumstances beyond their control, may have developed behavioural problems or simply bad habits, and more.
5. Saying Good-bye
Last, but certainly never to be seen at least, is the ability to say goodbye when the time arrives. This can be an excruciatingly difficult thing to ask of an individual who has bonded with a child and then has to watch them walk away. Youíve given them a gift when their own parents were somehow unable and this is an extremely valuable service. Preparing for the send-off and mentally maintaining the fact that you have been able to offer this special child a safe, kind, healthy environment during a tumultuous time in their lives can be key to getting through the rough period following the transition of a child out of your home.