As a foster mom and foster care recruiter, one of the most common questions (or reservations) I get is, “But what about my children?” This is a question I have helped countless families navigate over the past ten years and even one I wrestled with myself. We first got licensed to foster 17 years ago, when our firstborn was a baby. However, after getting licensed, we worried about how it would affect him and decided not to take any placements. Our first placement came a few years later after our third child was born.
What many people are searching for when they reach out is an answer to whether or not they should foster, being they already have children. Here’s the deal: I can’t make that decision for a family. Some families have children begging them to foster. Others have children get mad when their parents tell them they are going to start the process. No matter what your situation may be, I highly suggest you make your children part of the process from the get-go. Let your children’s voices be heard! Without a doubt, please do not foster if one spouse is not on board. Fostering will likely push you more than anything ever has and if you aren’t unified, it’s not a good idea to move forward.
I recently published a booklet called “Navigating Foster Care with Your Children” to help families navigate foster care with their children.
The booklet is divided into three sections: prior to a placement, during a placement, and after a placement. In each section, there are 10 things to do with your child(ren) to help them through the fostering journey.
If you decide to foster, your children WILL feel the emotional effects of children coming and going. They WILL feel the physical toll and will need to be flexible with their space, time, and expectations. However, I can honestly say that fostering has shaped my family into what it is today. What started with reservations, now has become a part of our family’s DNA. We’ve welcomed over 60 children into our home and it only works because our family is united!
Foster care isn’t for everyone, but I believe many people are interested but hesitant due to having children in the home. I can say with all sincerity that my children have learned more about life through fostering than through anything else. Time and time again, coaches, teachers, and parents comment on how well my children can connect with others, especially those going through hard things. Foster care has grown our children’s empathy and compassion beyond measure. Foster care has changed my children… for the better!