Blog #4 The Family's Perspective
Blog #4 The Family’s Perspective
Been There Done That – So Can You!
Taking an inside look at the rewards and challenges of foster parenting can be instrumental in making the decision to apply for a foster license. But, is all the research, reading articles and talking to an agency enough? We want you to meet…Amanda!
Amanda has been a foster parent for almost 7 years! She and her husband have welcomed several children in their home over these years.
When taking the first step to foster parenting, Amanda shared that “becoming a foster parent has so many emotions attached. We all feel the excitement of welcoming a new child, scared of the unknown, anxious if we are doing it all right, love beyond belief, and lots of tiredness because let's face it being a parent of any kind is exhausting at times.”
It's true – the journey of parenthood is challenging for anyone. But, when fostering, many new families wonder what they can expect; especially what to expect in terms of the reaction from the child. Families might often think that these children are being “saved” from their terrible circumstances. While separation may have been necessary to keep a child safe; the child will often struggle to adapt or understand why this is necessary.
Amanda shares about those expectations and some of the experiences she observed from children in her home. “The best things that I have learned are expect the unexpected as foster care is not a black and white outline, communication is key, your excitement of welcoming a kiddo in your home is also their grief of loss due to being removed from their parents, set expectations and boundaries, but don't expect a child to be grateful that you've given them a good home (they were just taken from the only life they've know) and use your support system.”
A support system! Yes! You’ve heard it said before that “it takes a village to raise a child." This concept is true for all involved in the system. While foster parents need a support system, consider that the biological parents involved, who have had their children removed, are also in need of that support as well. That is really where foster parents come into play. Foster parenting isn’t about just the child, it is about the family.
Amanda gives some excellent insight into the purpose and role of foster families and helps define what makes a foster parent successful. “Being a foster parent and loving this child as your own is so easy. The hard part that we have to train our minds for is the reunification piece because that means a loss for us and our families. We have been foster parents to 18 families. I say families not just kiddos because we have learned over the years that reunification becomes more of a celebration for us than a loss when we support and engage in reunification. Oftentimes I have heard people say that they could not become a foster parent because they could not let the child go. I am not saying this is easy, but I promise you it's possible. My husband and I have a philosophy we live by. We say that 'we cannot expect our kiddos to love and respect us if we cannot love and respect their birth parent'… We may not like the choices that were made that brought these kiddos into care from abuse and or neglect, but we also want to know that we have done everything in our power to guide and support the birth parents.”
The impact that one foster family can have is powerful and significant. You not only help a child in need, you help a family network. You help a family come together and rise above the barriers that have held them back. You can empower children and their families by choosing to be there while the system partners with you both to provide the treatment and healing processes to take place.
In closing, we challenge you to consider taking that first step, asking questions and seeing if you are ready to be a part of changing lives. If it’s not the right time for you, and we know that will be the case of some reading this now, we certainly challenge you to talk about the need for foster families in your area and encourage them to see if it’s the right time. Either way, you can be a voice for children and families in need. Thank you!
"Taking this journey is a rollercoaster and most likely not the perfect picture that we all have planned when we open our homes as foster families, but I promise you it's so worth it!"