Foster parents and foster kids are all unique- they all come from different backgrounds, and it’s impossible to group them into one category. Their stories and experiences are all so different. The journey of each individual in the world of foster care is not a one size fits all experience. With that being said, here are a few tried and true tips that have proven to be beneficial to almost all foster parents, and from all walks of life. Shared by veteran foster parents, you’re sure to find a tip on this list that resonates with you.
Have a support system. It’s advised that you do this before you begin fostering, as many people wait until they become overwhelmed to start asking for help. Once you’ve been approved to foster, plug into the community. A lot of times there are church groups or individuals that would be more than willing to provide help to foster homes- whether that be providing meals, babysitting or helping run errands. Talk to your friends and family about your upcoming commitment, and see if they’d be willing to help out occasionally. Remember, emotional support is just as important as well. Talk to those you’re close to about your experience and express your feelings- both positive and negative.
Attend the court dates if you can. Even if you’re not allowed to be inside the courtroom, just sitting outside and listening in can help you to learn a lot about your foster child’s case, and get a better understanding of their background and family situation. Not only will this aid you in providing better, more specialized care, but you’re also showing that you’re a committed foster parent. Regularly attending these court dates will also allow you to build relationships with your caseworker, and even your foster child’s family.
Document the memories. Foster care is fleeting after all. These children won’t be around forever, but they were and will forever be a part of your family. Document the time that you do have with them- take pictures and videos- of everyday life and the special moments. Consider keeping a journal for each child, recording funny stories or specific instances. Create picture books filled with photos and memories of your time together. You’ll be happy you have these to look back at later on.
Lastly, be open to change. Foster care is a wild ride- it’s almost guaranteed that your plans will change. God has his own plans! Listen to your heart, and do what you feel is best in the moment.