It is hard to comprehend all the effort that goes into foster parenting if you have never done it before. Even the seasoned foster parents have to face challenges while raising such kids. More so, the challenge is different for each child because they come from such diverse circumstances and backgrounds. Being prepared is the first thing that you need to do because this is a big responsibility. If you are a first timer, the best approach is to know all that you can expect as you enter this challenging phase. At the same time, you need to be determined enough to see it through and be the best parent to the foster child you bring home. Here are some things that first time foster parents can expect as they take this massive responsibility.
- Connecting with the child will not be easy
To be realistic, never expect a foster child to connect easily with you because, after all, he or she is not biologically yours. As a mature individual, you may be able to overcome this mental block but a young child may not be comfortable with accepting you as a parent. Children who have suffered relational abuse and trauma are even tougher to get acceptance from. The solution lies in being patient and understanding. Do not try to be intrusive and neither try to get connected by pampering the child because it may actually be seen as a negative behavior by them.
- They will need their own time to warm up
Thinking that the child would warm up to you quickly as a result of the loving care you provide will be like expecting too much from them. Of course, they will become comfortable when they exit a neglectful or abusive environment but do not wait for magic to happen. Give them their own time to build trust in you and your family and gradually, you will find them warming up and coming closer to you. Let your actions speak as you try to win them with care and love. Treat them at par with your biological children if you have them.
- What is enough for you may not be enough for them
As a first time foster parent, you may think that you are doing a good job. But what seems enough for you may not actually be enough for them. These children not only yearn for physical comfort but also crave for emotional stability and support. The best thing to do, therefore, would not be only giving them good food and a cozy bed but also providing them unlimited love and support, while playing by parenting rules. Make them feel welcome in your home and ensure that every family member does so. Educate your biological children about the importance of accepting them as their siblings and making them feel comfortable.
- The child may not feel safe in your care
When you take a child in your care, you take the responsibility of their safety in your hands. You know that the child is safe at your home, but this does not mean that the child will also feel the same. Their basic necessities will be well looked after but this does not translate into building their trust as well. To make a child feel secure, you have to understand their fears and challenges and help them to overcome these for good. Moreover, you need to give them enough space so that they can mingle with your family gradually and embrace your culture and lifestyle.
- The child may or may not blend with your family
As a first-timer, you should expect that the chances of the child fitting in your family are as good as not fitting there. This means that you may need to do a lot of work in the latter case as the child will not be able to feel accepted unless they blend well with your lifestyle, values and culture. Even though agencies do their best to find ideal foster homes for children, there are always chances of mismatches. When you do think of adopting a child, be willing to accept the child as he or she is. Learn to be flexible and open to changes for helping the child to adjust in the new setup.
Tips to help you become a good foster parent right from the start
Now that you know what to expect as a first-time foster parent, you will probably realize that it is not going to be really easy. Here are some tips that can help you to become a good parent right from your first initiative with foster parenting.
- Do some research and talk to seasoned foster parents to get a better understanding from people with first-hand experience.
- Try to assess your motivation behind the decision, whether you want to do it for serving the community or for personal satisfaction. Furthermore, this article goes through the steps to explain the monetary aspects of taking it up as a career.
- Ask your questions and clarify your doubts with you caseworker so that you are fully confident about your decision before you actually move ahead with it.
- Be open minded about the challenges and failures because parenting itself is a tough job and foster parenting is even tougher. Learn at every stage and try to improve on the basis of your experiences during the journey.
- Connect with communities and support groups to talk to prospective parents as well as the ones already raising such children. Members can discuss their views and experiences to help each other in coping with difficult situations in a better way.
Foster parenting is a miracle that happens only to the lucky ones. You should feel thankful for this great opportunity because it is a genuine chance to help others, serve the community as a whole and make the world a better place. Being a foster parent may not seem easy when you start but gradually, as you gain your footing, this might become the most rewarding experience of your lifetime.