What You Need to Become a Foster Parent
Three Key Attributes
“Preparing to become a foster parent can be a challenge. But know this is a time to truly grow as a person. Make space to assess mentally and emotionally for both yourself and the child entering your home. After all, it will forever change your lives.”
Becoming a Foster Parent
Raising a child can be one of the biggest decisions in your life. The time, commitment, and financial obligations are serious. Becoming a foster parent shouldn’t be taken lightly, which is why you should first step back and truly evaluate if this is the right decision for you.
Each state has different steps for legally fostering a child. There are many requirements and qualifications that go into it. So, depending on the location, you will need to go through training to be licensed and certified.
And while it’s good to speak to an attorney in your state to get sound legal advice, you’ll also want to see if you’re in the right mental state before going through the process. Brushing up on certain skills will help you to be mentally prepared for foster parenting. This blog post will define those skills, so you can be mentally prepared to embark on this journey.
Self-awareness is a core ability for developing a deep understanding of thoughts, feelings, and actions. It can increase learning and develop meaningful relationships. Being a foster parent can put you up against the preconceived notions of yourself. The better you understand yourself, the better you’ll be at foster parenting.
Mental health support is extremely beneficial during this time. Finding a therapist who can help you do self-discovery will help you to navigate some uncomfortable things about yourself. Helping to raise a child requires risk, and self-growth can only come through healthy, managed risk. But only you know how much is suitable for your life and situation.
Throughout the process, you will have many conversations with people assessing and training you. So, it’s important to have a posture of listening while also being able to share your views. Whether it’s with doctors, other foster parents, therapists, or the birth family, you will have many meaningful conversations.
Your foster child will also need love, support, and guidance as they adjust. Some foster children may even test your rules and challenge you. Therefore, it’s important to have clear communication about the structure and discipline of your household.
There are simple communication skills that can make a big difference. Some of the best foster parents communicate effectively by doing these simple things:
- Build relationships with everyone around them.
- Know what they are speaking about to others.
- Provide opportunities to listen as they speak.
- Try to understand the other person’s point of view.
- Look for any non-verbals.
- Identify patterns and inconsistencies to avoid misunderstandings.
- Take ownership of their actions and emotions.
- Open to new ideas.
Depending on your foster child’s prior situation, they may need some time to adapt to a new environment. The best way to help is to start by showing empathy. While you’re going through the foster parent process, this is the time to practice giving others space, responding with kindness, and building a connection through strong relationships.
Try to learn as much as possible about your foster child’s background and experiences. It will help you to naturally build empathy. Communicate these feelings with your foster child. You can grow your relationship and build empathy for their situation by incorporating active listening and understanding.
Preparing to become a foster parent can be a challenge. But know this is a time to truly grow as a person. Make space to assess mentally and emotionally for both yourself and the child entering your home. After all, it will forever change your lives.
The Bair Foundation is committed to teaching, training, and supporting foster parents. You are never alone in the process. If you want more information on how to start the process, fill out our form to request more information.
Of the 23,000 children who age out of foster care each year, 20 percent become homeless.
Join us in our mission to help children in need before it’s too late.Become a Foster parent