You get the first call, and before you know it your first foster placement is in the works. You may be feeling a lot of things- nerves and excitement, but it’s important to make sure you take practical steps in order to best prepare you for the days, weeks and months ahead. While preparing a place to sleep and stocking the pantry is a necessity, there are a few other internal discoveries and growth you must first endure in order to be fully prepared.
Number one, we suggest that you take some time to learn about trauma, and how it affects the brain. This is something that is vitally important to understand as a foster care parent and will help you better parent some of the children that may walk through your door. The nature of these kid’s lives, and the difficult experiences that shaped them cause them to act out differently than many parents are used to. Better understanding the why behind some of these actions can go along way, and help us to meet them where they’re at.
Take the time to further build your relationship with God. Becoming a foster parent will challenge you in a lot of ways, and God is always there to guide you when things get tough. The days you spend with your foster child, whether it be good or bad, will cause you to lean on God in ways you never have before. Be still, and revel in the peace you have in the days before the child arrives. Prepare your heart to be changed, and open to the possibilities in the future.
Start an open flow of communication with your biological children. When it comes to your forever children, it’s important to include them in part of the decision-making process for foster care. While some may be more apprehensive than others, begin explaining to them why this is something that is important. Be honest about things so that they really understand- don’t sugarcoat it. Talk to them about creating boundaries and rules that honor them, in order to ease into the transition and show them that they’re important, and their feelings matter.
Lastly, don’t forget to be honest with yourself and how you’re feeling. If a feeling comes up, acknowledge it and try to find the root. Foster care is challenging, and you’ll be dealing with a lot of different emotions. A little prep work goes a long way. With your first placement, it’s so important to be prepared- having clothes, food, and a bed ready is essential. But checking in with yourself, and preparing your heart, your family and your mind is just as important.