You’ve made the courageous decision to begin your foster care journey, but you still have some doubts. That is okay! In fact, it just shows you are aware of the amazing commitment you are about to make. Regardless of how prepared or excited you are to become a foster parent, you will likely still wonder if this is the right decision for you. Are you really cut out to be a foster parent?
Most foster parents will ask this question at some point during their fostering journey. A common misconception about foster parents is that you have to fit a certain mold to be a good foster parent. This is far from the truth. You don’t have to be married, rich, religious, young, or even own a large house. You aren’t even required to have any experience parenting. Simply put, most foster parents simply need to be responsible adults who can financially support themselves and have a little extra room for a child.
Despite this known fact, many still fear that they will be discriminating against or rejected during their foster care process. As foster parents, we worry that we aren’t enough for the children we will look after. Some common fears are listed below.
- I won’t have enough money to take care of a child
- I work full-time and won’t have enough time to devote to a child
- I live in a small apartment and won’t have enough room for the child
- I am single and won’t have any help with the child
- I am part of a minority and will be discriminating against
- I don’t have any parenting experience and won’t know how to take care of a child
- I don’t have good cooking or cleaning skills to care for a home properly
- I am not religious and will be judged by other foster carers
- I am too old and will not be considered for fostering children
- I am too young and will not be considered for fostering children
- I do not have nearby family or friends to support me in my foster care journey
- I am only interested in fostering children in specific age/gender ranges and will not be selected due to my pickiness
- I am only interested in adoption and will never be called for a placement
- I have a social life that I do not want to give up for a child
- I do not feel qualified to be a foster parent and worry it is not the right thing to do
After reading this list of common worries and doubts foster parents have, it is no wonder there is a foster care crisis. These doubts often keep people from becoming foster parents.
I, myself, have had many of these doubts before. As a young single woman living in a one bedroom apartment and working as a nanny, I couldn’t imagine a worse person to be a foster parent. Still, I knew what a need there was for foster parents and wondered if I should consider it anyway. As I did my research, I began to realize that there are plenty of successful foster parents who are like me. There is a single black man who works as a teacher and is a successful foster parent. There is a single white woman who adopted six sisters successfully all by herself. It is stories like these that inspire me to make the commitment to help my community and the kids who desperately need good homes. You can be a foster parent regardless of your age, sexuality, ethnicity, background, or marriage status. This state does not discriminate based on these factors. In fact, there are many children that fit better with these individuals. Some children are better in homes without a male figure or in a home that is open to he or she being gay. These minority foster parents make great homes for these kids.
The state helps a lot with foster parents who need the support. There are monthly allowances that cover the children’s basic needs like clothing, food, and school supplies. In addition, children’s medical expenses are paid by medicare and many states will also help pay for child care for young children. The resources are a great help for working foster parents. In addition, some case workers may help with transportation to visitations or meet with the child at daycare so you don’t have to take off work. The state will also give you training to help prepare you to parent a child who has gone through trauma. There is also respite care that will give you a little break if you need some “me” time and support groups with other foster parents so you can get help when you need it. There are many ways for foster care to work for you if you want it to. I encourage you to talk to your local foster care agency to see if you meet the qualifications to begin the foster care process. This is also a great way to talk through some of those doubts you may have. I know I was surprised to learn that I can foster children under 3 years old in my one bedroom apartment. You never know until you ask, so ask!