I get asked lots of questions when I connect with someone wanting to become a foster parent. I remember all those questions and feelings which is a big reason why I share about foster parenting online. Because it was hard to find the answers.
So after almost 5 years of fostering I have created a list of what I think are important requirements.
Strong Relationship or Strength in your Singleness
I often get asked if you can foster if you are single. Yes, absoloutly but you have to be strong and stable in your singleness. Waiting and searching for a mate are two different things. If your focus is mainly on finding a relationship then I would say not to start fostering. But if you are happy in your singleness and open to a relationship but not actively searching then I say go for it!
If you are married then it needs to be a strong marriage. These kids need stability. They often come from very broken marriages/relationships and domestic violence. Having any sort of similarity in their foster homes is only going to trigger them. If you are having marriage problems, seek counselling first. Stabalize your relationship. Give these kids a strong stable relationship to look up to.
Emotional and Mental Stability
I think you need to be an overall stable person. If you have had recent grief or a big change in your life it may not be the best time. If you struggle with mental health it may not be the best fit, unless you have a handle on it. These kids need stability more than anything. In the home study process they ask you a lot about this area of your life.
A support system is vital. I get more into this in The Foaster Coaster course. I would highly recommend actively searching out people that will come a long side you. Whether that’s family, friends, church members or aligning yourself with a ministry or program that supports foster parents. Seek out foster parents in your area. We know what kind of support is needed. I have several friends I can rely on for respite, baby sitting etc. I also have friends that will cry with me through the hard times and rejoice with me in the happy times. A support system is vital. I you don’t have one, find one.
Foster parents do get a daily stipend to cover the child’s expenses but often the money runs out before the days in the month do. You will have to prove in your home study that bringing a child into your home will not cause a financial strain on your budget.
A Big Heart
Trust me, foster care is too hard if you don’t have a heart for these kids. Attachment is the point. You need to love without fear. Yes, when they leave it will be hard. You will grieve, but you will move on and life will return to normal. (Or a new normal) These kids have experienced a lot off trauma. They need someone to love them unconditionally. And this isn’t always easy and some kids won’t be as easy to connect with. Your heart does need to be big and willing to love and lose. But the reward of that loss is great. You helped a child in a desperate time of their life, you will give them hope in the future, you will give them safety and they will be better off forever because of the love you will give them.
A Strong Faith or Resolve
Whether you are a person of faith or not you need to have something to cling to in the hard moments. A strength above your own. I don’t know how I have gone through some of the things I. have without God. Having a strong faith or resolve is important.
Things are going to happen along the way and will make you want to give up. A really tough goodbye, an allegation, a crappy judgement, a worker you can’t get along with. Be determined to be a pillar of support for these kids.
A Willingness to Learn
A whole other world has been opened up to me since becoming a foster parent. I have had to learn so much about trauma and the effects on the brain, attachment, the effects of drug and alcohol in children, how to be a support to someone most people won’t give the time of day. Legal stuff, how to work with social workers. Fostering has a huge learning curve and you have to be willing to learn along the way so you can be the best foster parent you can be.