Being a foster parent is not easy but nothing of true value and importance is ever easy. Kids that come into care have not only gone through the trauma of what has brought them into care but also the trauma of being taken away from all they have ever known. A foster parent works to help kids feel safe, do their best to put pieces together of what is going on with a child based on little information, and, at the same time, supports family reunification efforts while advocating for the child trusted to their care. Here are some things that I have found important in helping with the challenges:
- Give it time. Rarely will a child step into your home and trust you. If they did, I would be concerned since you are a complete stranger. There is going to be an adjustment for the child and for your family; both in your home and out of your home. I have found it takes about 6 weeks to feel like the ground is back under my feet whenever any significant change happens in my life. Adding a child to your home is no different.
- Surround yourself with support. Do not underestimate the importance of having people to love, support, and encourage you as you are going through the transition of becoming a foster parent and, just as important, the ongoing journey of fostering. Being on the foster journey alone is incredibly lonely. I have learned from experience that my army of friends and family are what have helped keep our family healthy and given me time away needed to keep myself healthy.
- Get to know the people that are on your child’s case. The guardian ad litem, case manager, judge, and parent aid (just to name a few) are responsible for your foster child’s case. You are able to assist best when you know them and work with them in providing updates on the kiddo’s care and needs. I have found it helpful to assume the best about them and their motives when problems arise and do my best to be a part of the solution.
- Take advantage of resources available. There are amazing resources for foster parents that teach you how to advocate for your family and your foster child. Check out our resource page for more information: https://fosterarizona.org/resources/
- Find other foster parents you can connect with. It makes a huge difference to be able to talk with other parents dealing with similar issues and get ideas of what others have found to be successful. If you are fostering and are not connected to a community, we would love to give you some ideas of how to connect. Email me at Kim@fosteraz.com and we will help you find a community.
Thank you for your great question! If you have questions, send them to #youaskedfa or Kim@fosteraz.com