Sadly, sometimes life takes a bad path and children stay without parents at a young age. Some parents take their path and for some other people have to decide the future. In that case children don’t have proper care, and fall into the hands of the system.
That scenario can be very cruel to the children. The orphanage is something that most of the children would avoid. In that case foster parenting comes as the best solution.
Having loving parents are many children’s distant dream. Some of them get lucky so they are in the hands of loving foster parents. They will give them everything that their biological parents could not. If parents are not suitable in any way, children need to grow up in a calmer environment.
Nor for foster parents, nor for children that is an easy task. They have to be both ready for something that they can’t be. They are both afraid and that is normal.
Important is that they give their best, to get the best of the new situation.
Meeting someone new is stressful at any age in human life. Especially if you will have to live with that person you never have seen.
In a foster scenario that involves even more people. Including social protective services as well as psychologists and many more. That can make the situation even more difficult for both parties. In such scenarios it is crucial to show understanding to those children. Usually, they have been through a lot and it will take some time for them to adjust.
Don’t expect they will love you and respect you from day one. It will take sometimes weeks and months that they accept you as part of their lives.
Becoming a foster parent will take some time. It can take up to six months or more to get all the paperwork done. You also have to know that there are a few levels of foster care, and you will have to know which one are you aiming for.
- It has to be a specific child, a relative or someone you already had as a foster child
- Basic foster care, where foster parents can have up to 3 foster children and they don’t have to be relatives in any case
- Level 3. Foster care requires at least one year of experience. Taking care of the children who need more specific care, like pre-teenagers
- Level 4 of foster care requires a least 1 year of experience with children who have been sexually abused. They need in most cases also mental help so a lot of experience in taking care of them.
- Foster homes, for more than 5 children. Years of training and experience with foster parenting and special permits will include.
When you decide to change someone’s life stick to it, try to get involved, and educated as much as you can.
You will most probably become a basic foster parent and you will handle small children. Don’t think that will be an easy task. You will take care of human life, molding and shaping it into a person that will become one day.
It takes a lot of courage for that. Have faith in yourself and remember that you will be equally scared as that child at the moment you will meet.
While you are meeting with a child that has to foster care you have to understand that they are afraid. Usually, they are very confused and they will need more than a nice word. They also need psychological help in overcoming their fears.
Most of those children got abused at some time in their life and they will act like you are going to abuse them too. Don’t think of that as a bad thing.
Children who got put into the system have their guard. They need to be extra cautious, as they don’t know what warm home is. Introduce yourself in your best way. Show them that you are accepting them as they are and their past is not bothering you.
Try to talk with them about general things. Don’t ask them too much about their past, as that might have triggers for bad memories.
Try to have a friendly approach. But also, you have to understand, those children have to grow up quicker than expected. They can act very different comparing to children their age.
If you buy them present at the first meeting they might think and even say that you are trying to buy them. So, approach to them like you would approach the scared animal. And remember that they need love as much as any other child. Even a little more.
As children are usually scared of new situations try to give them the option of how to call you. Usually first name is something that goes well. Don’t try to force upon them anything. Especially not calling you mum or dad. At least as they come into your family. It will take the time to accept you even ass Mr. and Mrs.
You have to know it will take some time and you will have to be there at that time, don’t rush into anything. Time will show if you are the right match.
Preparing for Arrival
When you decide to take a foster child into your family try to make him feel welcome. The important thing is to show also that you are willing to give him some privacy.
That means giving him his room. Explain to him that you will also give him the key to the room if his behavior will be good. Buy him a new bed. That will show him that you care.
When he or she moves in, take him to the shopping for some accessories to the room. some paintings for the wall, a small night table, some lamps, and curtains.
Show that you are willing to give them some space to express themselves in the right manner. And that you are also a rock who can give them the stability they did not have before.
They might show you some resistance, and even blame you that you are trying to buy them. In that case tell them that you are ready when they are. Show them that you have the patience that they are seeking.
As they will show you trust, you have to show them empathy.
Most of those children had to deal with everything on their own. So showing them that you care will be something new to them.
Show them that you can and will listen to their problems. And most that you are there for them in any case. Build a firm trust.
Show interest in things they find interesting. Like music they like to listen. Also try to find some facts about their favorite band. That might impress them.
When they trust you enough take them to a field trip. Tell them some stories that happened to you when you were a child. Don’t push them to tell you some of their traumatic experiences. When the right time comes, they will tell you on their own.
If the child is in contact with his biological parents, show them that you are willing to accept that as well. Take the child to a meeting with the caseworkers and his parent. That will only help you in building the trust you need to take that relationship to another level.
If you have some more children in your family, they should show empathy too. You have to all be there for each other and support each other. As a good example they will see, foster children will adjust.
Show them unity and love. That will make them open up more to you and share the experiences they had in the past.
Foster children can get off the hand sometimes. Due to their past, they can act quite different and they will try to run away or steal from your home. That is a sign they need help and more understanding.
Such children need compassion, so even if you caught him steal, give him a chance to explain why did he do that.
He is in some trouble that you don’t know about. Try to be helpful. Show interest in a child’s life. He has to know that you will be able to help him if something goes wrong. And most importantly, that you won’t judge him.
Don’t ever try to get aggressive towards the child, that will give birth to more aggression. He won’t open up and he will get in more trouble. You have to know that with those children you have to be careful.
Regular grounding won’t do much as they will run away and put themselves in deeper trouble. Instead of yelling at the child, ask him why did he do that.
For every action there has to be a good reason. he is seeking attention. He wants to tell you that he is hurting. In any case, if you talk to the child more, you will find out what is bothering him. If not, you can always ask for help from caseworkers. They know the child longer than you and they will be able to give you some guidance.
It is important not to give up or show any aggressive behavior. That will also trigger some bad memories in the child and he might think that he will get abused again.
They will show aggression towards you. Even in that case you have to stay calm and not fight back. Of course, it depends on the age of the child. Younger they are, they will be more open to adjustments.
Show them that you are an anchor they need in their lives. The reward for that is huge. You will have a grateful young person, looking at you as their role model. He will be proud to have you as a parent.
Changes to such situations can be hard, but that doesn’t mean that it is impossible.
If your family goes to church or hiking every Saturday, involve the foster child as well. It is very important that the child feels loved but as well that he feels unity with your family.
Everything what are you usually doing, now you will have to do with the foster child too. He has to feel like he belongs to your family.
If his family did not go to the church and you do, take him with you. Explain to him what is your religion is about and why it is that important part of your lives. He will surely appreciate the effort you are putting in all that.
Everything that you will do it will maybe be a struggle. But with time child will accept that is your way and he will go along. If he does not accept it at first, try to give him some space and leave him with a member of your family at home. Under the condition he has to go next time. That will make him understand that you are willing to cut him some slack. Also that you will want your way.
What if doesn’t Work out ?
You did all you could, and the child still didn’t accept you as a foster parent. Things like that happen daily. Even though nobody wants to talk about it.
It is part of the life you choose. Maybe that foster child wasn’t ready for your family. he did not like your ways. something else triggered him so he kept on running away.
That does not mean that you should give up on being a foster parent. That is a great and rewarding job. But demanding. So you have to be ready for failure.
So, try to be a better foster parent. Try to help some other child out. Make yourself a better person and a parent. There is nothing wrong with failure.
You have to understand that it sometimes happens despite all the effort we put in. The best way to go is to learn from our mistakes and try to fix them. For us, and for children that will come in our lives.